Report explores ways to cut northern livestock transport costs

Beef Central, 09/03/2014


AUSTRALIA’S northern livestock industry can be beefed-up by potential reductions in transport costs, according to new research from the CSIRO.

Federal minister for infrastructure and regional development Warren Truss launched the findings, including a suite of tools to analyse the costs and benefits of infrastructure investments in the northern livestock industry, in Canberra last week.

Mr Truss said the study highlighted some inexpensive opportunities that were good for a quick fix, as well as opportunities for longer term savings.

“While infrastructure investments will typically reduce producers’ costs, there has been no simple way to evaluate the whole supply chain to ensure investments maximise whole-of-industry productivity,” Mr Truss said.

The study, which was jointly funded by the Australian, Queensland, WA and NT governments, addresses this critical information gap.

“Even a minor change like co-locating spelling yards with roadhouses so cattle and drivers can rest at the same time, are relatively simple but can significantly reduce travel times and overall costs,” Mr Truss said.

In one investment scenario, the cost of transporting livestock across northern Australia for processing was reduced by more than $15 million a year. It found that upgrading 500km of the Carnarvon/Gregory highway between Clermont and Roma to allow large road trains to use this inland route, and removing tick-clearing restrictions, could have saved the industry almost $80 million over five years.

Queensland agriculture minister John McVeigh said the project comprised the most comprehensive mapping and analysis of northern transport routes and beef industry infrastructure ever undertaken, capturing data from more than 50,000 properties and 1.5 million vehicle movements.

“Transport cost makes up a large proportion of the market price for beef, with Northern Territory cattle often travelling 1000km or more to an abattoir or port in Queensland,” Mr McVeigh said.

“This is important work and gives producers and governments the tools to evaluate the transport system and identify beneficial infrastructure investments, while planning for the future.”

The project tools could be used to assess a wide range of options, from small changes in the system through to major investments in new transport and processing infrastructure.

Western Australian minister for agriculture and food Ken Baston said the work could support a planned WA review of priority infrastructure for the northern beef industry.

“The implementation of land transport standards for livestock and our desire to boost our pastoral beef businesses underpins the need for infrastructure to keep pace,” Mr Baston said.

“Western Australia is positioning itself to meet the rising demand for beef from our Asian neighbours, and transport logistics are an integral part of a modern and efficient beef industry.

“The CSIRO tools will also assist any review and planning by providing scenario testing that takes into account actual cattle flows to various markets and ports and, I look forward to their use.”

NT primary industry  minister Willem Westra van Holthe said the new tools could be used to show the value of major new infrastructure investments.

“A new abattoir in Darwin, for example, could reduce transport costs across NT producers by as much as $13.2 million a year,” he said.




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