The Top End “Cattle Crisis” – Indonesias Self Sufficiency Plan

Many media outlets  are incorrectly reporting that the Top End “Cattle Crisis” is due or partly due to the temporary Live Export ban in 2011. The Cattle Crisis is an over supply of Cattle, with no market to export to, no local abattoirs to process the Cattle (highlighting the need for our own processing requirements for long term stability and security in food production), and a drought in some areas affecting Farmers ability to provide adequate feed.

The Truth is that Indonesia (who accounts for 45% of our Live Exports and is the Top End Live Export Farmers main Market) announced as far back as 2009 their internal Policy to become Self Sufficient in Food Production (including many staple foods such as Rice and Sugar). They have a belief as a Government and a Nation, that they should be producing the food to feed their own citizens, to have food security and to invest in their own employment, manufacturing, farming and food processing.

Indonesia has implemented a number of reforms to its agricultural sector in the past decade aimed at achieving food security, ensuring affordable prices for consumers, raising competitiveness for agricultural products and diversifying away from carbohydrate production towards animal-products. The new Food Law, passed in October last year, aimed to institutionalize self-sufficiency in food production as the overarching food security policy.

This is in line with the country’s intensifying drive for economic nationalism. Article 14 of the law states that ‘sources of food supply are from domestic production and national food reserves’ and only ‘in the case of shortage of food supply from those two sources, food can be fulfilled by importation, as needed.’ Amongst the objectives of the policy is a goal to reach 90 per cent self-sufficiency in beef production by 2014.

This Policy was made public and the Live Export Industry and Australian Government were well aware of their plans to cut all Cattle imports by 2012 (since extended to 2014) inline with their Self Sufficiency plans.

Prior to the temporary ban after the discovery of the reality of the cruel handling and slaughter methods that were happening in Indonesia, the Indonesian Government had REDUCED their Cattle Import Quotas by 700,000 head, so Australian Live Cattle Exports were immediately cut by 1/3rd. The further quota reductions have been in line with this plan, and the Government as never wavered from their Self Sufficiency Policy as mentioned above with the Policy now being Indonesian Law.

Many in the Live Export Industry question Indonesia’s ability to meet this plan, calling it unachievable. This however is ultimately Indonesia’s concern and has no bearing on the position that the Cattle Industry is in, whether we believe the can or will achieve it now or in the short term, the reality very well is – that we have an entire Top End of Cattle Producers reliant on one Customer who has been telling them for 3+ years, that they will be ceasing their trade, entirely.

The only contingency plan we have seen to date, is AaCO announcing the establishment of a Darwin Abattoir to process it’s own Cattle in for Boxed Beef Exports.

Home grown: cattle and beef self sufficiency in Indonesia – 2010 Report: outlining Indonesias Self Sufficiency in Food Production Policy:
They are talking about self-sufficiency in terms of 90pc of their domestic production meeting the demand by 2014, leaving just 10pc of future demand to be filled by imports.

Jakarta Globe Article detailing Government Spending on the Beef Sufficiency Policy

Indonesia announces 2013 Quotas, inline with Self Sufficiency Policy:

Australia Network: Indonesia has embarked on a strategic program to ramp up food production and become self-sufficient in basic commodities like rice and sugar.

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