THE live export market suffers another blow, with a Queensland mission to Indonesia being told pre-slaughter cattle stunning won’t be allowed.
The trade mission, led by Agriculture Minister John McVeigh, was told there had been a marked shift against stunning by Indonesians, the Courier Mail reports.
Stun guns – commonly used in Australian abattoirs – are the main hope of exporters wanting Indonesian abattoirs to overcome cruel slaughter conditions.
The northern live cattle market is on its knees due to a decision taken by Indonesia in 2009 to wind back exports to start its own beef industry.
Graziers – some of whom paid enormous prices for stations during a boom in meat prices – have had a horror season after being hit with fires, drought and low prices.
Indonesian ambassador Greg Moriarty told Mr McVeigh no one in Indonesia would override a fatwa on something like stunning.
And despite industry problems, it was unlikely that live trade would return to the 2009 levels of 700,000 head of cattle annually.
Meat and Livestock Australia regional manager John Ackerman said although the ministerial visit to Indonesia was valuable, Australia could not start thumping the table to demand that Indonesia change its quotas.
Mr McVeigh said he was confident the stunning issue could be overcome through education.
“Despite the setbacks, I’m confident of rebuilding trade relations and expanding our beef exports, both live cattle and boxed beef,” he said.
Livecorp chief executive Alison Penfold said main religious groups had backed stunning.
“Stunning rates are around 90 per cent in approved abattoirs, a big improvement on where we were two years ago when it was about 16 per cent,” Ms Penfold said.
Live exports are under pressure from animal rights activists over entrenched cruelty in Indonesia, the Middle East and Turkey.
This has led to strife for the Queensland Government which has allowed cattle to feed in national parks to help graziers, sparking a war with conservationists.