Mad cows bring new market to Kimberley

KIMBERLEY beef producers are looking to capitalise on the sudden escalation of the mad cow scare after Australian authorities banned the importation of beef products from Europe.

WA Pastoralists and Graziers Association executive director Edgar Richardson told Business News yesterday that in a positive backlash from the crisis, beef producers in Australia, particularly in the Pilbara and Kimberley regions, could look forward to a good patch this year.

He was responding to the weekend’s order to remove beef products from 30 Europeans countries from Australian supermarket shelves.

Australian authorities followed a ban on all imports of European beef by Japan last month.

Australia has outlawed all imported British beef since 1996. Since the scare over the variant Creutzfeld Jakob Disease (vCJD), which can be fatal to humans, first hit the headlines in the UK in the 1980s it has resulted in the slaughter of tens of thousands of British beef cattle.

But, while the latest ban on imported beef products such as stock cubes, soups and pates will make little difference to Aussie farmers, Mr Richardson said there is no doubt this mad cow scare will boost Australian beef producers.

“It appears it is going to flow on in the form of increased live beef exports from Australia generally and because we are seen to have clean and green sources,” he said

Mr. Richardson’s optimistic comments for the industry come hard on the heels of record NewYear figures released by the Port of Broome showing a total of 84,097 head of live cattle worth $42 million were shipped from the port during last year. Growth over the past three years has almost tripled with live cattle now responsible for 38 per cent of the port’s total annual turnover.

An increase of 15 per cent in shipments from Broome during 2001 is expected.

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