Dear Prime Minister – Mr Kevin Rudd.
I have cattle. I need live animal export markets and I need them now.
Congratulations on your re-appointment as Prime Minister. I hope you will continue to support the live animal export trade.
To cut a long story short my family business has quality cattle to sell and no-where to sell them. I am a producer in the Roper Gulf of the Northern Territory. Our main market is to Indonesia as live animals.
I implore you to give your immediate attention to the opening up of markets for animals in Live Export. We are unable to send any cattle on live export shipments at the current time due to strong competition in a curtailed market, government over-regulation and permit restrictions. We are also unable to send the same cattle to processors in other states due to the current low prices being paid due to oversupply in those markets. Present prices barely cover the freight to get them to a sale destination let alone basic costs of production of our property.
I know of producers affected by drought who have been forced to sell animals due to lack of fodder. They have also been caught up in the current beef crisis due to the markets being flooded with cattle from the north and west. These are cattle that should have sold and on export boats in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The perfect storm is in full catastrophic action and is increasing in intensity. With the added pressure of high debt, I fear many producers will be forced from their properties if something isn’t done immediately to open up markets to allow them to earn income.
We do not have access to overdrafts and it is unlikely that we could borrow further. Currently we have animals to sell yet can’t create cash flow under present circumstances to sustain the debt we have. We quite simply have no-where to sell them. It would be financial suicide to even contemplate further debt load while the market restrictions are so intense and debilitating. With no income to repay debts now, increasing debt is not feasible.
I am not asking for cheap loans, handouts, welfare, or direct monetary assistance, I need markets in which to sell my animals. If you can give me that, I am able to work through most other problems but I must have those markets available to survive.
I implore you to negotiate, trade, barter, even beg to assist other countries with the uptake of ESCAS (Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System) to establish first class animal welfare supply lines, and provide federal funding support to the abattoir attempting to be established in Darwin. Both these options of markets would allow producers like my family to get our businesses back to some form of operational viability.
Please do not underestimate the current beef crisis that has enveloped the whole of the north of Australia, from the West coast of Australia right across to the east coast in Queensland and is also severely impacting every other state. Sheep producers are in a similar situation with the free fall in prices.
Mr Rudd we desperately need a strong leader at the moment to work with the Agricultural industry in general but in particular the livestock production sector needs to regain markets to re-establish their viability and consequently the economic security of many producers. Please help us turn this awful situation around.