Imports a risk too high?

Imports a risk too high?


Beef News
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Howard Smith from the Cattle Council of Australia, who is a new columnist with The Land, asks the question, how prepared is Australia for beef imports?

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Cattle Council of Australia president, Howard Smith.

Cattle Council of Australia president, Howard Smith.

In December, 2016 the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) launched a review into the import of fresh (uncooked, chilled or frozen) beef and beef products from Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United States and Vanuatu. 

The review prompted an in-depth consultation process between the Australian Government and industry. Peak industry council, the Cattle Council of Australia (CCA), has been engaged in this process for the past year. 

But the questions on everyone’s mind is how prepared is the Australian Government for the increased food safety and biosecurity pressures the importation of beef could potentially lead to, and are Australian consumers willing to compromise on Australian fresh produce and what is the potential financial burden to producers?  

CCA, through its submissions to the Australian Government, focused on the need for any country wishing to export into Australia, having in place equivalent integrity systems. These integrity systems must ensure that products entering Australia come from supply chains that have food safety and quality testing protocols that are equivalent to those that are applied to Australian product for both domestic and export markets.

Australia’s integrity systems have been world leading for both domestic and export markets and have allowed for continued market opportunities for our domestic beef producers.

Australia’s beef industry relies on integrity system to ensure we can continue to supply over 73 per cent of our domestic production to export markets, however it’s our domestic market which remains our largest customer. 

This review was an opportunity for industry to highlight the importance of maintaining strong biosecurity and health protocols.

In August this year the Australian Government announced the final review of the risk assessment for imported beef.

The in-depth consultation process continues to allow government to engage directly with industry to ensure the correct interpretation of industry programs and how they will be impacted by any future beef imports. 

Australia’s beef industry relies on integrity system to ensure we can continue to supply over 73 per cent of our domestic production to export markets, however it’s our domestic market which remains our largest customer. - Howard Smith

But how will consumers react when presented with an alternative, imported product to Australian home-grown beef?

Market research conducted indicates that consumers are less willing to buy imported product, signalling that consumers have a clear preference of locally sourced produce when purchasing fresh product.

It is, however, important to note that price per kg plays an important role when consumers purchase beef within the retail sector. 

CCA continues to advocate strongly to ensure that the Australian Government has in place programs that will adequately oversee the importation of beef to our domestic market. 

  • Howard Smith, who is the Cattle Council of Australia president, is the last of The Land’s new columnists talking all things livestock. Veterinarian Scott Parry from NorthWest Vets - Coonamble, Walgett, Lightning Ridge – who kicked off Pasture Pickings will be back next week in the cycle of columnists.
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