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Graziers gather at 'Steakholders' forum in Mount Isa to form beef industry survival strategy

By Jesse Dorsett, Nance Haxton and Kate Stephens, Wednesday July 24, 2013 - 06:57 EST

The cattle industry is meeting in Queensland's north-west to discuss the toughest conditions they have faced in a generation.

Forty per cent of Queensland is in drought and producers have suffered under a high Australian dollar.

The extensive drought combined with a beef glut are crushing Queensland graziers and industry representatives and politicians are gathering to reflect on the crisis.

The 'Steakholders' forum began in Mount Isa this morning, with federal and state agriculture ministers also attending.



Jed Matz from the Cattle Council of Australia has told ABC Radio's AM program that the industry is also recovering from the suspension of live cattle exports nearly two years ago.

"I think we've turned that corner, we're showing that we can ensure good animal welfare up there now - we just need to try and get the Indonesians demanding more cattle again," he said.

Mr Matz says the forum could provide an opportunity.

"If we can get more access to more markets around the world then the demand for beef goes up and that brings up the price," he said.

Rural lobby group AgForce spokesman Charles Burke says it is a slow process.

"It will take a significant amount of time and patience for this to rectify before people are back into a situation where they will feel comfortable," he said.

He says consumers are not benefiting from the farmers' plight.

"We receive less for our product but the consumer pays more," he said.

Mount Isa grazier Marcus Curr, who is also attending the forum, says graziers struggling with low cattle prices need to see a change in the market quickly.

"I don't think anyone can be expected to wait too long," he said.

"Prices are probably comparable to what they were 30 years ago and costs are going through the roof. I don't think anyone can be expected to wait too long."

Mr Curr is hoping to hear long-term solutions to the current cattle crisis.

"The free trade with Korea and China and the live export - to make sure it continues," he said.

"I would like to think of the positives to the beef industry in the future, not just a quick fix and the handouts.

"I like to think we can work on a future for it, a better future and not just a quick fix."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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