POLL: Do we want live export to Indonesia?
NORTHERN RIVERS cattle producers have welcomed preliminary negotiations for a live trade industry to Indonesia which could see the Port of Yamba revived as a export hub.
Exploratory trade inquiries, initiated by Australia-Indonesia Business Council executive member Welly Salim, has strong support from Richmond River Beef Producers Association members, who sizzled rendang curry and satay sticks at their Casino Beef Week exhibit on Saturday in honour of the potential Indonesian market.
Mr Salim owns Oceanic Cattle Stations, a 15,800-head Tennant Creek station adjacent to the Packers' property. He also has close business ties with Toowoomba transport tycoons, the Wagner family.
This week he was on a fact-finding mission, collecting data from brahman producers from Coffs Harbour to Tweed Heads.
It was hoped the Northern Rivers market could dovetail with the established Northern Territory live export trade industry, which shuts down over the wet season.
"There are lots of boats available over the summer," Mr Salim said.
However, while cattle ships from Australia's live export capital, Darwin, take four days to reach Jakarta, Yamba vessels would take 12-and-a-half.
The Port of Yamba was a live trade hub in the early 1980s and cattle producers like Richmond River Beef Producers Association deputy chairman Brian Creedy hope for a return to the glory days of international competition.
Do you want a live export trade between the Northern Rivers and Indonesia?
This poll ended on 10 June 2015.
I don't care
I don't know - I need more information.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Mr Salim said the region was lucky Yamba port's harbour master, Captain Simon McEvoy, spoke fluent Indonesian. But Australian beef speaks for itself.
"Indonesia can't get enough of Australian beef. In 2014 Indonesia bought 763,000 head of cattle. We are hoping that 2015 will be the year we crack one million," Mr Salim said.
Richmond River Beef Producers Association treasurer Holgier Zeiler said the potential market would drive up meat prices, which had plateaued since January.
"We welcome the potential for another option. It will drive competition and spread the risk," he said.
While no doubt cattle producers would benefit, the new market might pressure other markets.
Labor MP for the Queensland beef capital of Rockhampton, Bill Byrne, last month expressed concerns live trade export from Rockhampton would likely threaten the viability of processors and value-adding of the local meat-processing industry.
However, Mr Salim said increased competition at the saleyards would have far-reaching benefits.
"There is only one buyer here," he said. "That is no good for business."
Mr Salim first approached the Richmond River Beef Producers Association at their March meeting, where members met to discuss their frustration over levy fees.
The businessman said he was also in the area to explore the potential of exporting sugar products and soybeans from the Yamba port.
"It's all about food security and opening up our options," he said.