How can we solve Australia’s cattle crisis?

Donating cattle to Indonesia and creating a north Queensland cannery to produce tinned beef products were just two of the ideas thrown into the ring at yesterday's cattle crisis talks.

North-west Queensland cattle workers presented a series of resolutions to federal and state ministers for Agriculture at a cattle crisis meeting in Richmond yesterday.

The aim was to pave a path for getting the industry back on its feet after being struck down with the high Australian dollar, intensifying drought conditions and ongoing issues surrounding live exports.

Two years ago, the federal government banned live exports for several months after footage of animal cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs was aired on ABC's Four Corners program.

The ban was heavily criticised by the cattle industry with farmers arguing their livelihood had been threatened – an argument which gained traction once the Indonesian government cut its intake after the ban was lifted.

Earlier this week, footage of animals being mistreated in Egyptian facilities reignited the debate, with live exports to the area suspended and both the Greens and Independent MP Andrew Wilkie calling for an end to the practice.

Attended by around 500 graziers, yesterydays' crisis summit called for short and long term resolutions that would see the industry restored.

According to SMH, many graziers supported a call to donate 100,000 cattle to Indonesia in an attempt to repair the damaged relationship.

Federal MP, Bob Katter, suggested state and federal governments invest in a north Queensland cannery, using excess stock to process tinned beef and soup products for supermarkets.

Some 29 resolutions were passed by the crowd. These include:

1. That the federal government introduce a form of foreign aid to purchase 100,000 head of cattle from Northern Australia at a farm gate floor price of $1.50 per Kg to reduce the risk of the Northern Australia beef industry collapsing and restore the live export trade including lifting the 350 Kg limit.

2. That the Summit calls for the establishment of a body to negotiate with the Indonesian Ambassador the expansion and further development of the live cattle market that has mutual benefits to Australia and Indonesia.

3. That the Summit call on the federal & state governments to develop a method of emergency financial relief for exceptional circumstances assistance for government charges such as, payment of Rates and outstanding taxes, as well as Land Rent decreased by 20 percent for five years.

4. That the state government reduce the registration on transport vehicles by at least 30 percent and reintroduce rail and road subsidies of 30 percent for the duration of the drought for all drought declared shires or that have IDPs over them.

5. That the Summit calls on Meat and Livestock Australia to suspend the $5 Transaction Levy on all drought declared shires and individually droughted properties.

6. That interest rates are excessive and incompatible with sustainable production in agricultural profitability and international competitiveness. The Summit calls on the federal government to reduce interest rates.

7. The Australian dollar is un-competitively high. The Summit calls on the federal government and the Reserve Bank to put in place methods to compensate Australian industries and reduce the dollar, for example, the central bank reduce interest rates to be internationally comparable.

8. The Summit requests the federal member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, after consultation with relevant experts, to present to the next sitting of Parliament a Bill to bring into existence an "Australian Reconstruction and Development Bank" (ARDB) with the capacity to reconstruct debilitating financial arrangements in agriculture and to provide low-interest long term funds (Patient Capital) for the further development of the agricultural industries and infrastructures of Australia.

9. The Summit call on the federal government to review the Taxation Zonal Allowance to attract and retain the rural workforce.

10. The Summit calls for the establishment of one or more strategically placed meatworks in addition to current abattoir initiatives.

11. That the federal government set up a Ministry of Food to ensure a fair standard of living for farmers while maintaining sustainable production systems and to provide a stable and safe food supply at affordable prices for Australian consumers.

12. That this Summit authorises the Beef Crisis Steering Committee to make representation to the federal & state governments and other relevant parties in relation to the resolutions adopted at the Summit.

A number of resolutions from the floor were also agreed.

13. That the federal government officially apologise to the Australian cattle industry and the Indonesian government and people for the appalling way in which the live export ban was handled and the hardship forced on them. And implores the Indonesians to reopen the trade & raise the weight to 500kg, which would not only lighten the pressure on our local markets but help to alleviate the extent of the impending animal welfare disaster which is looming as none of us have the money to feed them.

14. That this summit calls on the government to abolish stamp duty on buying rural property for drought declared shires at least.

15. That the government halt all monetary aid to Asia & sink that money into helping the cattle industry of Australia

16. That the federal government revisit the problem of insufficient competition in the Australian Banking Sector in relation to the Rural Sector and especially address the situation of the Big Four taking over the smaller banks and take measures to stop this practice.

17. That the state and federal government lobby the Reserve Bank of Australia to lower their Base Interest Rate to a level in line with those of the other Major World Central Banks.

18. That the Queensland government subsidise the freight costs at the same rate as for those on carting hay and water on the following items: Polythene pipe and associated fittings; Tanks, troughs and associated fittings; any associated water pumping equipment. The subsidy is to only apply to costs from the closest usual supplier to the development site/s.

19. That the federal government survey all PIC Holders, the survey being based solely on their herd numbers, to determine whether or not they want the NLIS to remain compulsory and if a clear majority of them do not want it to remain so, act on it.

20. The state government consider a 50 percent rebate the on the cost of transporting drilling rigs for water from A to B (B being the property requiring water).

21. That the Summit call on the federal government to properly model the impact of the “Accumulated Tax Loss Credit – Swap for Debt” Proposal developed by the Gulf Horizons Foundation and provide feedback to the Steering Committee by the 30th June 2013.

22. That crown lands being mainly national parks and forest is open for grazing.

23. That urgent attention is given to restoring the kangaroo meat trade with Russia as they are in plague proportions on the Downs.

24. That Australians be permitted to contract directly with Indonesians and Egyptians to process northern cattle.

25. Minister Ludwig has assured us that he is not against the live export trade. Can Minister Ludwig assure us that the people in his government involved in the decision making process share his passion for re-establishing a strong and vibrant live cattle export trade?

26. That an Avgas Rebate for producers equivalent to the diesel rebate be introduced for a period of time to ease the burden on mustering costs.

27. That the Queensland government remove restrictions on road trains (four decks) delivering meatworks cattle within metropolitan areas.

28. That the federal government put in place a 75 percent wage subsidy for rural sector workers in drought declared areas.

29. That the federal government expedites the signing of the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.


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