Cattle industry pain has ripple effect – rural communities at risk
29 July 2011
Almost a month after the live export ban was lifted, no Australian cattle has left for Indonesia and the cattle industry is doing it tough, with some producers reporting mounting losses of in excess of $350,000 per month according to agribusiness lawyer, Trent Thorne, from McCullough Robertson.
Thorne says that unless increased compensation is rapidly provided and the process for receiving government support is fast-tracked, the ripple effect of financial loss could devastate whole communities.
'Hundreds of jobs have already been lost and from what we’re hearing from our clients, hundreds more are at risk,' Thorne says.
'The Federal Government’s $30 million assistance package won’t come near the losses the industry is already carrying and the individual grants of $5000 to $20,000 are just a drop in the bucket.'
'These grants are notoriously slow to come through and it’s rare for any one affected individual to be awarded the full amount, which still wouldn’t be enough given that some of our clients have already lost $700,000.'
'The industry needs a rapid injection of funds now to support them through the wait - it could still be weeks before individual abattoirs (to which Australian producers were previously exporting) are independently audited and cleared to receive our cattle.'
Thorne said with many farmers and other operators along the supply chain, including transport companies, feed suppliers and veterinarians caught up in the consequences of the ban, it won’t be long before local communities are affected.
'Some might think this is a problem for just a few farmers, but if cattle producers start defaulting on loans, it will become an economic problem for Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.'
'There’s a ripple effect to be felt from the massive job losses which will have a negative impact on the Australian economy. This is a $850 million a year industry and hundreds of people in rural communities, many of them contractors and casual workers, rely on the work that comes through each year at export time.'
'If even a handful of farmers are forced from the land because of the way this issue has been handled, whole communities could be devastated.'
Thorne says the Federal Government’s assistance package must be increased to provide real compensation and the process for application and payment fast-tracked to support those in need and local communities.