A big issue facing Australia’s dairy farmers is the competition from cheaper Chinese imports.
While Australian producers of beef and pork are also struggling to stay competitive, Australia’s producers of poultry are competing directly with China for customers.
Now, Australian beef producers are being told to look elsewhere.
The new rules mean the government is forcing Australian beef farmers to look overseas for markets.
It comes after a decade of increasing demand from China, where domestic demand for chicken has been strong for years.
But it also comes after the government, after years of warnings, announced a major dairy policy.
The changes, which go into effect next month, include the import of more imported species such as pork, turkey, sheep, sheep’s milk and goats’ milk.
But some producers have questioned the need for that, given Australia’s record of high demand for meat.
A big problem facing Australian beef growers is the rising demand for pork from China.
Photo: Andrew Meares The government said the import restriction was part of a wider plan to boost the country’s pork supply, but that was met with opposition from producers.
Some dairy farmers said they would be forced to import cheaper imports, or face closure.
“It’s a lot more expensive than we’ve been used to and it’s just going to be more expensive to do,” Paul Goss, of the Australia Meat and Dairy Farmers Federation, said.
“So it’s going to make us a lot less competitive.”
The Government said it wanted to provide greater certainty to Australian farmers.
It said there were “unprecedented” supply shortages for the beef sector, but said the rules would not affect the availability of imported species.
It also said the new restrictions would not apply to Australian dairy farmers, as the rules do not apply directly to them.
A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture said that “Australian producers of livestock are encouraged to import other imported species to meet increasing demand, but this is not the case with beef”.
But the new rules are being met with widespread opposition.
“Australian farmers have been told they have to import more pork, and I don’t think that’s going down well,” Andrew Schreiber, who farms a cattle ranch near the border with New South Wales, said on ABC Radio National.
“This is a great opportunity for Australian cattle to compete directly with Chinese meat producers.”
The rules are not the first time China has been forced to respond to the increasing demand for its products.
Last year, the Chinese government banned the importation of all beef from Australia, with the aim of increasing supply.
China has a large beef industry, and has an estimated 1.3 million cattle per hectare (3 million animals per hectore) at the time of the ban.
The restrictions will have a far-reaching impact on Australian cattle, because they compete directly for Australian customers.
The rules were also criticised by a number of Australian meat producers, including beef farmers, who argued the restrictions were unnecessary and would lead to higher prices.
“What this means is that our beef farmers will have to compete against Chinese meat farmers for the same market,” said Gary Stroud, of Beef Market Queensland.
“We are losing out on $US30 million a year, which is not a lot of money for a country of 200 million people.”