July 12, 2011


Australia's Agriculture Minister predicts WA cattle industry's full recovery



Australia's Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig is confident Western Australia's (WA) cattle industry will make a full recovery despite a month-long ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia.


"What I'm confident of is that this industry does have long term prospects," he said.

"It's important if we're going to continue to have a live export industry that we address animal welfare outcomes."


The minister and his WA counterpart Terry Redman met producers in Broome to give a group of 30 pastoralists an update on the export situation.


Before the meeting, producers told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation they are worried the cattle trade has been irreparably damaged despite the ban being lifted last week, and even though Indonesia has subsequently issued export permits for 180,000 head of cattle, the country has lost its fundamental trust in the trade.


Ludwig dismissed the concerns.


Yeeda Station's Jack Burton says having the chance to see the Federal Minister in person gave many producers an opportunity to express how they felt.


"I don't think we could ever be satisfied," he said. "There was obviously everything from people resigning themselves to the inevitable right through to people who were seriously angry."


Ludwig said he wanted to hear producers' views.


"I think it's important that we do get an opportunity to have a dialogue around this issue," Ludwig said. "It's an important issue in WA, clearly it's an important issue for Broome and the pastoralists, and that's why I'm here in person."


The Federal Government is offering AUD33 million (US$34.9 million) in compensation to the cattle industry.


Australia's Commonwealth Service Delivery Agency said 39 people have received the AUD5,000 (US$5,287) business assistance payment across Australia, while fewer than 20 have applied for a share of the AUD3 million (US$3.17 million) income subsidy package.


The WA Men's Health Initiative's Julian Kreig said while most cattlemen are probably too embarrassed to ask for help, it is important they do.


"Aussie attitude or pride as an Australian battler stops a lot of people from applying," he said. "It might not be much money but it does need to be indicated to Canberra that the damage that's been done by the live cattle export has injured a whole lot of people in our community. So the more people that apply, the better the message; if no-one applies, there can be a misread message that this ban didn't actually hurt anybody."

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