June 9, 2011


Indonesia to replace Australian beef with New Zealand beef



Indonesia said on Wednesday (June 8) that it could buy more beef from New Zealand after Australia suspended live cattle exports due to concerns over animal cruelty.


Agriculture ministry livestock department chief, Prabowo Respatiyo Caturroso, said the Indonesian government was unsatisfied that a video showing brutal abuse of Australian cattle in Indonesian slaughterhouses was real. But, he said the government was determined to improve butchering practices wherever cruelty was discovered.


"We have to respect the Australian government's decision to stop its live cattle exports to Indonesia," Caturroso said. "We're fully aware that we have to improve animal welfare in our abattoirs. Our investigators are still checking the accuracy of the video on cruel treatment of livestock here," he said.


Australia earlier suspended all live cattle exports to Indonesia for up to six months after a public outcry when shocking images of mistreatment in slaughterhouses were broadcast on state television.


Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said the trade, worth AUD318 million a year (US$336 million), would not start again until safeguards were in place to ensure animal welfare in Indonesia.


The footage broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation included kicking, hitting, gouging of eyes and breaking of tails of some animals as Indonesian workers attempted to force them into slaughter boxes.


Australian cattle account for about a fifth of Indonesia's rising beef consumption, or around 500,000 head a year.


Indonesia has enough cattle of its own to make up the difference but they are not in commercially viable herds, Caturroso said. The export ban will spur local graziers to lift their game, he added.


"Surely, if Australia stops the export, New Zealand is ready to export more beef to Indonesia," he said, adding this would mean frozen beef as New Zealand does not export cattle for slaughter. "I hope it will not give a significant impact as our population's beef consumption is relatively low. It is only 2.4 kg per capita annually."


Indonesia's parliament passed a law on livestock welfare in 2009 but it has not been implemented and no sanctions are in place for abattoirs that mistreat animals, despite the mainly Muslim's country's concerns about halal butchering.

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