China cattle deal a ‘game changer’ for Aussie beef

MOVING FORWARD: Matthew Canavan says a new agreement relating to trade between China and Australia is fantastic news for Central Queensland producers.
MOVING FORWARD: Matthew Canavan says a new agreement relating to trade between China and Australia is fantastic news for Central Queensland producers. Contributed

A NEW "breakthrough" in Australia's live cattle export trade may be the trigger for hundreds of millions of dollars to be invested into the Fitzroy Food Bowl.

Rockhampton Senator Matt Canavan said the new agreement signed by Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce on Sunday was good news for the $495 million Rookwood and Eden Bann weir projects.

The agreement, which outlines the health conditions for the trade of Australian feeder and slaughter cattle to China, is set to open up a live cattle beef export market between the two nations.

Mr Canavan said they hope the first load of cattle will be exported in the next few months, and expect it will open a market of 50,000 to 60,000 head of cattle to China in the first year.

However, in 10 years China has its sights set on importing one million head annually.

While politicians may be uncertain about whether this is achievable, Mr Canavan said it was a "game changer" for cattle producers across the state.

"It's better to have too many people wanting our product than too few," he said.

"It will generate an enormous boost in demand for live cattle and improve farm-gate returns to farming families."

Mr Canavan also said he was still a strong supporter of opening a live cattle export market out of Port Alma, a proposal which was championed by former Member for Keppel Bruce Young.

Mr Canavan said the government was keen to hear other proposals for infrastructure such as feedlots, dams and irrigation systems.

The agreement was signed by Mr Joyce after being formed by veterinary authorities from both nations, and is now waiting on a signature from Mr Joyce's Chinese counterpart, Minister Zhi Shuping.

Once he signs, the industry will be able to start preparing ESCAS arrangements and supply chains for trade to begin.

However, with significant export already occurring with dairy heifers to China this isn't expected to cause much of a delay.

State Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne has previously stated he is a supporter of live exports, but not out of Port Alma.

He was concerned that expanding the port would threaten jobs at local processors, but Mr Canavan said "you don't strengthen one industry by weakening another".

Attempts to contact Mr Byrne yesterday were unsuccessful, as he was travelling.

China will be the seventh livestock slaughter cattle export market opened under the current government, after Lebanon, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Cambodia and Thailand.

Topics:  beef china exports

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