Burdekin beef producer said Labor's announcement could be catastrophic

Zoe Thomas
By Zoe Thomas
Updated May 10 2022 - 1:14am, first published 1:00am
Burdekin beef producer Geoff Cox of Rocks Farming Company said Labor's announcement could be catastrophic. Photo supplied.

Beef producers fear Labor's plan to ban the live-ex sheep trade could be "just the start" of further industry shut downs.

News of the political party's intention to gradually put an end to the live export of sheep if elected brought fear to many northern producers who are still carrying the scars of the live-ex cattle shut down.

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Burdekin beef producer Geoff Cox of Rocks Farming Company said Labor's announcement could be catastrophic.

The mixed cattle and sugarcane farmer runs between 600 to 1000 mixed steers, which he supplies to the live export market.

"The loss of the sheep trade is just the start," Mr Cox said.

"It is a small step then to the loss of live cattle and that is going to be catastrophic."

Mr Cox said the live export trade market was critical to the northern beef industry and had provided a competitive alternative market to the meatworks.

"At one point in time, we were at the mercy of the meatworks," he said.

"In the north, the live cattle trade has been the only thing that has kept the meatworks at bay.

"Live export came in and put competition into the market and that has been the major reason for beef producers getting enough money to improve their properties, improve their output and get production to where it is now."

Australian Livestock Exporters Council CEO Mark Harvey-Sutton said the council was disappointed that the Labor party had continued their policy through from the 2019 election campaign.

"The sheep export industry has got best ever results, particularly over the last three years, and its performance is excellent," Mr Harvey-Sutton said.

"It is a different industry now."

Geoff Cox said the live export trade market provided a competitive alternative market to the meatworks. Photo supplied.

Mr Harvey-Sutton said despite the outstanding performance of the cattle export industry, uncertainty lingered.

"What it does is set a very concerning precedent and sends a signal that you can do all that is asked of you, and even exceed it, yet we will still shut you down," he said.

"While we are pleased that Labor have indicated that they won't touch cattle, having this precedent occur, undermines any confidence in that statement."

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Mr Cox said the Labor party had walked away from producers of all industries.

"That is from coal miners to sugarcane growers," he said.

"You can run the loss of the sheep trade, the loss of the cattle trade and the cane industry is facing a similar loss.

"All producers are just on the short end of Labor's thinking.

"They have just retreated to the cities.

"I cannot emphasise how catastrophic I think it is going to be."

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Zoe Thomas

Zoe Thomas

Journalist - North Queensland Register/Queensland Country Life

Northern based journalist at North Queensland Register and Queensland Country Life.

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