NSW Farmers' Association, beef producers keep watch on export freeze to China

CLOSE WATCH: Michael and James Millner from Rosedale Charolais near Blayney.
CLOSE WATCH: Michael and James Millner from Rosedale Charolais near Blayney.

Producers in Orange and its surrounding region are keeping a close eye on a beef export ban to China with at least one grazier supplying cattle to one of the four affected Australian abattoirs.

China announced this week it was suspending sales on beef from three abattoirs in Queensland and one in NSW, the Northern Cooperative Meat Company at Casino, due to labelling and health certificate requirements.

Rosedale Charolais owner Michael Millner said while he is not directly affected, he sells his cattle to a feedlot in Moree that sends them to the abattoir in Casino.

"We do produce cattle that are exported, quite a few of our cattle go there," Mr Millner said.

He said "quite a few cattle" from the Central West go to feedlots and then go on to the four affected meatworks, Kilcoy Pastoral Company, Beef City near Toowoomba and Dinmore near Brisbane, which are both owned by JBS, as well as the abattoir at Casino.

"There will be other markets, Japan and Korea will all handle a similar beef as what goes into China," Mr Millner said.

However, he said the trade suspension could create price pressure at a time when sheep and cattle prices is good.

"I think the government has got to be careful," Mr Millner said.

"We are watching with interest, we are feeling a bit helpless but we cannot do much about it."

However, he said Rosedale was not solely reliant on export with the stud also making money from breeding and bull sales, and Mr Millner's youngest son, Robert, raises grass-fed cattle at Geurie, although that was affected by the drought in recent years.

NSW Farmers Association Orange branch member Bruce Reynolds said the suspension affects between 30 and 40 per cent of beef exports to China.

"Trade is still open and 60 per cent of our trade is still going on at this time," Mr Reynolds said.

However, with China also proposing to increase tariffs on Australian barley to 80 per cent, beef producers, grain growers and wineries from across the Central West are watching with interest.

"We won't find out until next week if they will impose a tariff, it nearly doubles the price of barley for Chinese producers," Mr Reynolds said.

He said most of the exported barley comes from Western Australia it could affect planting decisions by farmers in the Central West.

Mr Reynolds said wine exports were not currently affected but the issues with beef and barley have put wine producers on alert.

"Producers are watching very carefully what's happening with both of these, certainly we are hoping for positive outcomes on both trades," he said.

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