Agriculture Minister Causes Serious Beef

State Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Deb Frecklington says she is astonished by the new State Minister for Agriculture, Mr Bill Byrne’s statements about his opposition to the live cattle trade industry.

Deb Frecklington MPMrs Frecklington says it is concerning that the new State Minister for Agriculture is opposed to the live cattle industry, given the disastrous results of the former Federal Labor Government’s live-trade ban and the massive negative impact it had on our beef industry.

“Unfortunately, for farmers in Australia farm gate prices are generally lower than prices received in third world economies such as Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil. When compared with the USA and Canada, our producers receive about half,” says Mrs Frecklington.

“For this reason, our producers need competition at the farm gate. By his statement opposing live cattle trade, I question what Mr Byrne is trying to do to the farm gate price?”

“And while I understand graziers are currently experiencing a rising farm gate price, at a time of potential prosperity, it seems Mr Byrne can only think of negative ideas,”

“Live cattle trade provides another important market for our primary producers. It works alongside other markets such as meatworks and feedlots. The live trade is a professional, regulated industry,”

“Competition makes an industry stronger, not weaker. I firmly disagree with Mr Byrne’s opinion that the live cattle trade threatens the viability of the region’s meat processors. This is not the case, with live-trade being an important and complementary industry for our State’s cattle producers,” she says.

Mrs Frecklington says that right now, our producers don’t need the processing and live export sectors to be pitted against each other. She believes the statement has been made to keep Mr Byrne’s union bosses happy, with little thought for the ramifications if may cause to an entire industry.

“Live cattle trade provides choice for producers to market their cattle. Without it, we all know what happens. Primary producers unable to offload stock. Families driven to the wall. Families who are already suffering the effects of droughts, floods and now cyclones,” she says.

“The LNP remains committed to enhancing the live cattle export trade and is committed to recognising that the industry’s associated jobs and development opportunities are vital to a balanced industry. We cannot afford Queensland to go backwards because of Labor’s indecision, inexperience and lack of commitment to this vital industry,” she says.

State Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne has since released a statement reiterating his support for Queensland’s live cattle export industry and says his previous comments have been taken out of context.  

Bill Byrne“Last week I was asked to comment about a proposal by the former Member for Keppel, Bruce Young, to export live cattle from Port Alma,” he says.

“Unfortunately media reports have not given a clear representation of my views.

“The facts are that I have been a long-time supporter of the live cattle industry and I fully recognise its value to the beef sector.

“Queensland is a world leader in cattle and beef production, with live cattle exports from Queensland ports reaching almost 200,000 head in 2013/14.

“I support diversity in the cattle sector and as Minister I will work with both exporters of live cattle and meat processors to maximise economic opportunities for all.

“In response to questions from a journalist in Rockhampton I commented that on the balance of information I have received, and on the evidence presented to me by meat processors in Rockhampton, I cannot support the establishment of live cattle export via Port Alma.

“I am not satisfied it is a viable economic proposition.

“I again make it clear that I strongly support live exports and that my views on the Port Alma proposal do not diminish my support for the live exports industry for Queensland producers and graziers in any way.

“Up to 2,400 jobs in my electorate of Rockhampton are dependent on the meat processing sector and I can’t support any proposal that might place those jobs in jeopardy.”

“The facts are that I have been a long-time supporter of the live cattle industry and I fully recognise its value to the beef sector.

“Queensland is a world leader in cattle and beef production, with live cattle exports from Queensland ports reaching almost 200,000 head in 2013/14.

“I support diversity in the cattle sector and as Minister I will work with both exporters of live cattle and meat processors to maximise economic opportunities for all,” says Minister Bryne.

Agforce State Councillor Matt Bennetto shares the State’s Shadow Minister for Agriculture’s concerns, saying, the current ALP government lacks rural and regional experience.