Fri, 11 Aug 2006

Govt to change meat import policy

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government is drafting new regulations that will allow meat to be imported from some countries that have a history of foot-and-mouth disease.

Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyanto said Thursday in Jakarta that with the issuance of the new regulations, Indonesia could import beef based on intra-country regions, rather than based on entire countries as was the case under the current regulations.

"This means that Indonesia could import from certain areas in a country that has a history of FMD," the minister said after attending talks on the government's import policies with representatives of farmers, the Indonesian Association of Veterinarians and non-governmental organizations.

In May, the European Union and a number of countries, including the U.S., urged the Indonesia government to open up the country's meat market in line with international standards and regulation.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) issued a declaration on Aug. 1, 2006, stating that 61 countries were free of FMD and seven countries, including Argentina, Malaysia and South Africa, had regions that were free of the disease.

But Indonesia currently only imports meat from Australia and New Zealand as meat from other FMD-free countries does not meet government standards, particularly Islamic law (halal) requirements.

According to Agriculture Ministry figures, the country's demand for beef stood at about 499,000 tons in 2005. Indonesia imports 350,000 live cattle and 50,000 tons of frozen meat per year, including innards, from Australia and New Zealand as local suppliers are unable to fulfill the demand.(05)