INDONESIA will increase Australian cattle imports, allowing an additional 25,000 head to be exported over the next three months and with no weight restrictions.
A statement released by Federal Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon this morning said the new regulation released in Indonesia on Thursday allows for the import of additional cattle from Australia through to December 2013.
Further imports for the second three month period will be advised by the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture.
Mr Fitzgibbon said importantly, there was no weight restriction on the cattle to be exported with Indonesia indicating the animals should be ready for slaughter.
Mr Fitzgibbon’s statement said the Australian Government understood Indonesia's desire to stabilise the price of beef during Ramadan and into the future.
The move follows discussions between the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Indonesian President Susilio Bambang Yudhoyono earlier this month.
On July 5 they announced the establishment of an Indonesia-Australia Red Meat and Cattle Forum during the annual Indonesia-Australia Leaders’ Meeting in Jakarta.
At the time, the Prime Minister also announced a $60 million funding package, to be provided over 10 years, for increasing agricultural co-operation and boosting investment in the red meat agribusiness sector in Indonesia.
The increase in cattle numbers has been welcomed by the Australian Livestock Exporters' Council (ALEC).
ALEC CEO Alison Penfold said exporters would now wait for permits to be supplied to enable shipments to be prepared.
"There are important logistical and regulatory processes that must be followed but exporters are eager to assist Indonesia with additional cattle ready for slaughter as soon as possible," Ms Penfold said.
"This will certainly be hearty news for many producers in northern Australia who may have suitable stock available.
"We recognise that the supply situation has become critical in Indonesia and it is vital that we move as quickly as possible to export cattle to the market."
Ms Penfold said animal welfare concerns would continue to be a priority for exporters as additional cattle flow through the export supply chain.
"The directive issued by the Ministry of Trade includes a requirement that cattle must only enter Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) approved supply chains," she said.
"This will ensure that suitable controls are in place to deliver humane treatment and slaughter and the welfare of cattle will continue to be overseen by Animal Welfare Officers in approved facilities.
"Over 2000 Indonesians involved in the care, handling and slaughter of Australian exported cattle have now been trained by Australians and Indonesians in welfare, handling and slaughter practices.
"This has been achieved through a great deal of cooperation and commitment by our Indonesian customers and their staff based on their shared interest in improving animal welfare."