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Truss must act on US beef quota.



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KERRY O’BRIEN LABOR SENATOR FOR TASMANIA SHADOW MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES

21 August 2003

TRUSS MUST ACT ON US BEEF QUOTA

Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss must ensure the value of Australia’s US beef quota is maximised by removing impediments to the transfer of quota from exporters unable to fill their entitlement to those who can.

It appears likely that exports in the current quota year will fall short of the available 378,214 tonnes.

While a range of issues including drought will contribute to the likely shortfall, the Minister’s quota allocation model will compound the problem.

According to the Minister’s departmental website, 116,500 tonnes remain in entitlement accounts just 12 weeks before exporters must get product on the water to reach the US before the end of the quota year.

The Minister’s department will write to quota holders next month and again in October seeking the return of unused quota.

The department will then reallocate any returned quota some time after 1 November, giving processors seeking additional quota very little time to take action get their product away.

Mr Truss must investigate how best to transfer unused quota to maximise the value of this year’s quota to Australian producers and processors.

I understand Meat and Livestock Australia will soon release updated forecasts for next year’s beef exports to the US and expect that forecast will predict exports of around 325,000 tonnes, well short of the available quota.

Mr Truss should bring forward his planned review of the US beef quota arrangements to ensure that the benefit to the Australian beef industry is maximised in 2004.

The Minister’s failure to act on the management of the US quota in 2001 got him into a lot of political trouble and cost a number of exporters a lot of money.

The last thing the Australian beef industry needs is a repeat performance of Mr Truss’ last US beef quota bungle.

For comment: Kerry O’Brien 02 6277 3842 Jack Lake 02 6277 3843 or 0438 773 842

44 Charles Street, P.O. Box 1193, Launceston TAS 7250 Phone (03) 6334 9366 Fax (03) 6334 9369 Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Phone (02) 6277 3842 Fax (02) 6277 3780 Email: senator.obrien@aph.gov.au