Help us off Aussie beef: Indonesia

WHEN Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he wanted the Australian cattle industry to help Indonesia wean itself off Aussie imports, it raised eyebrows.

Indonesia has been cutting the amount of beef allowed in from Australia to ease the nation's reliance on a cattle industry no longer willing to supply live-exports.

In Darwin this week, Mr Yudhoyono said with his country's middle-class growing demand for beef, Australia should be keen to help.

"For the medium to long term, we could consider co-operation in the field of investment ... which will no doubt bring real benefit for both our countries," he said.

The reductions are already starting to bite the northern Australian cattle industry, but even with no word on relaxing the rules, the Cattle Council of Australia is not tossing out the Yudhoyono message.

Chief executive David Inall said it was in Australia's best interest to be part of Indonesia's food security solution.

"The Indonesian President was very clear in his message that Australian companies must investigate opportunities for investment in additional components of the supply chain, including processing and marketing," Mr Inall said.

"It is critically important Australia remains constructively engaged as Indonesia locks in its food security needs, in particular their preferred suppliers."

"It is important for both countries to better understand how both breeder and feeder cattle exports to Indonesia work together for the betterment of both countries."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who spoke at a press conference with the Indonesian President, said Australia would continue to support Indonesia's food security through exports and support.

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