RIGHT: Brahman cattle bound for Indonesia. Soon they may also be exported to China.
RIGHT: Brahman cattle bound for Indonesia. Soon they may also be exported to China. AAP

Unclear whether Northern Rivers will benefit from China deal

NORTHERN Rivers beef cattle consultant Bill Hoffman has welcomed a pending live cattle deal with China worth up to $1 billion annually.

However, he said the devil was in the detail, with little information on the deal yet released by the Federal Gov-ernment.

"It's early days but as to its likely implications locally, it will depend on what sort of cattle China are looking for," Mr Hoffman said.

"We produce a certain type of animal. The majority of our beef production goes into two markets - the specialist veal market and wealso produce restocking calves.

"Our main problem would be that we have no close access to a port."

Under the deal, up to a million head of cattle a year could be sent to China.

Mr Hoffman, owner of Hoffman Beef Consulting, said locals would compete against regions with established live cattle trading channels.

"The North Queensland cattle industry is already set up for live export," he said.

"But right now we have no idea whether China wants the same breeds they're sending.

"It's early days and it's all politician talk at the moment.

"We need to know if we have any hope of getting anything over to China and what port would we use."

Page MP Kevin Hogan said the deal would benefit Northern Rivers graziers, regardless of the number of cattle exported from the area.

"It would significantly increase demand for our cattle which would improve farm gate prices," he said.

Mr Hogan said cattle would be needed from across Australia to meet demand.

"We export 700,000 to 800,000 cattle a year (to various locations) and we expect to double that number, so cattle will be coming from everywhere," he said.

Cattle from the Northern Rivers would likely be shipped from a Queensland port, Mr Hogan said.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie advocates shutting the live export industry.



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