Cattle sail from Darwin as Indonesian live export trade resumes

Cattle sail from Darwin as Indonesian live export trade resumes

Australia’s live cattle trade to Indonesia is back on track after Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade issued the first import permits for 2024.

The permits were signed on Friday and by Saturday the Nine Eagle was getting loaded with cattle at Darwin Port and is now on its way to Jakarta.

“There are choppers in the air, trucks on the road, and ships on the water,” Troy Setter, the chief executive of Consolidated Pastoral Company, said.

“I think it’s quite a big relief not just for cattle producers and exporters from Australia, but also importers in Indonesia who were starting to face pressure from customers.”

Mr Setter said Indonesia had issued permits to import around 650,000 head of Australian cattle this year.

ABC Rural has been told import permits were flowing for some other commodities, such as tables grapes, but Australia’s boxed beef trade was understood to be still finalising details.

Costly delay

Mr Setter said the length of the delay in getting import permits this year was unprecedented and had been very costly for many in the live export supply chain.

“I was in Darwin last week and drove past a trucking depot with a lot of trucks not moving, which means a lot of drivers are not getting an income,” he said.

“So in both Indonesia and Australia, there were a lot of people out of work for six or seven weeks who weren’t expecting it.”

He said, during the delay, live exporters had ships anchored near Darwin Harbour for weeks paying demurrage costs of between $30,000 and $76,000 a day plus the cost of cattle waiting in export yards.

He said with Ramadan starting next month, he was expecting the trade with Indonesia to be busy, with strong demand for slaughter-ready cattle.

Feeder steers to Indonesia via the Darwin Port are getting around $3.20 to $3.40 a kilogram, which is up 30 per cent on prices last October.

A truck of cattle is parked next to a large boat, ready to loaded for export

There were no cattle shipped from Darwin Port in January, but the trade is now back on track.(Supplied: Northern Territory Livestock Exporters Association)

Demand for heavy cattle

Queensland livestock agent Liam Kirkwood said cattle were being sourced for a shipment out of Townsville next week.

“There is a preference for heavier cattle, so from 380 kilograms right up to 600 kilograms,” he said.

“Obviously with the delay in getting these permits out, the importers have a deadline with their [religious festivals like Ramadan], so they need cattle in suitable slaughter condition.”

He said live export prices to Indonesia (ex-Charters Towers) were between $3.10 to $3.30 a kilogram for slaughter-ready steers.

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