Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said on Saturday that Indonesia’s ban on US beef imports was “just a knee-jerk reaction” and viewed possibilities to import beef and live cattle from other countries, such as India, Brazil and Canada.
Speaking during a conference in St. Gallen, Switzerland, Gita, who is also the chairman of the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board, said that the government was in talks with a number of countries to diversify beef imports.
“We are shackled, from a regulatory viewpoint, to only being able to import beef from Australia and New Zealand. We’re in the process of making this a little more broad-minded,” Gita said, as quoted by Bloomberg News.
- jerk – to make a short, sudden movement, or to cause someone or something to move in this way
- diversify – to become varied or different, or to make something varied or different
- shackled – one of a pair of metal rings connected by a chain and fastened to a person’s wrists or the bottoms of the legs to prevent the person from escaping
The Indonesian Meat Producers and Feedlot Association (Apfindo) executive director Joni Liano welcomed the initiative. However, he stated that the idea might be hindered by Animal Husbandry and Health Law No. 18/2009.
“The law stipulates that we are only allowed to import cows from disease-free countries. The law is implemented as a country-based rule, not region-based, so it is impossible to buy calves from India and Brazil, since some of their regions still have cases of foot and mouth disease,” Joni explained in a telephone interview on Saturday.
- hinder – to limit the ability of someone to do something, or to limit the development of something
- calf – a young cow, or the young of various other large mammals, including elephants and whales; the curved part of the back of the human leg below the knee
Besides import diversification, Indonesia tried to reduce the imported beef supply over the last two years with the goal of supporting local breeders and reaching meat self-sufficiency by 2014.
- diversification – to become varied or different, or to make something varied or different
- breed – a particular type of animal or plant; A breed is also a type of person or thing
Agriculture Minister Suswono officially halted frozen meat and live cattle imports from the United States last week due to the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), widely known as mad cow disease, in California.
- halt – to stop something, or to bring something to a stop
“We have instructed the quarantine agency chief to reject US beef that was shipped as of April 24,” the minister said during a press conference at the Agriculture Ministry office in Jakarta.
Based on Agriculture Ministry Instruction No. 2/Inst/PD./4/2012, Indonesia suspends imports of bone meal, innards, boned meat and gelatin until US government proves that its beef exports will not put Indonesia at risk.
- suspend – to stop doing an activity; A person who is suspended from a job, school, or an activity is not allowed to be involved in it, usually as a punishment
Minister Suswono said that there was no plan to increase beef imports despite the ban, saying that US beef only accounted for 7 percent of Indonesia’s total imported beef.
Indonesia’s per capita meat consumption is 1.87 kilograms. In total, the country will need 484,000 tons of beef this year. Confident that local breeders can supply 3 million live cattle, the government will only allow the import of 85,000 tons of beef this year, or 17.5 percent of the total beef demand.
The government set the import quota at 283,000 live cattle (about 50,000 tons) and 34,000 tons of frozen meat this year, down from last year’s 600,000 live cattle and 90,000 tons of beef. These imports mainly come from Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
When it comes to imported live cattle, Indonesia is highly dependent on Australia, a dominant exporter. Australian 2-month-old calves are shipped to local feedlots, where they need 60 days to gain weight, growing from 300 kilograms to 450 kilograms, before they are ready for slaughter.
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