Author Topic: A reminder about Indonesia - by Geoff Russell, The Punch  (Read 1374 times)

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A reminder about Indonesia - by Geoff Russell, The Punch
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2012, 05:27:25 PM »
All I could think of was my student days studying the history of Germany during the 1930s and the rise of Nazism. The acquiescence that allowed the Holocaust to happen was on display during interviews with Australian cattle producers who were appalled by the slaughter conditions while perfectly happy to bank the money. These human scum, and in particular Meat and Livestock Corporation CEO Cameron Hall, rank among the worst excuses for human beings on the planet.

Rest assured, the remainder of this story will perhaps shock but there will be no graphic descriptions of cruelty.

The live animal export trade has been a major focus of animal welfare and rights groups for decades. Campaigns have usually focused on sheep and the death and suffering during the 2-3 week trip to the Middle East. Typically, annual death tolls are around one per cent. This may not sound high, but it is equivalent to 16 per cent of a farmerís sheep dying in paddocks in the prime of their life in a single year.

Not being a sheep, it is hard to imagine how they feel about being confined on a ship and standing in excrement for three weeks, but many deaths are caused by inanition. Inanition is a tricky technical word meaning they just stop eating and die. It is subtly different from starvation, which would take much longer. No, the shipping conditions rob sheep of the will to live, something that even hunger or mulesing wonít do.

In recent years the campaign focus has broadened with Animals Australia investigators putting themselves in harmís way to take footage of horrific slaughter or handling methods in Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. Each investigation has been greeted with a mixture of mock and genuine outrage and disgust in Government and industry circles.

The offending segment of the trade has sometimes been suspended for a suitably polite period after which everybody picks up where they left off amid grandiose claims that steps have been taken, training initiated, protocols established, reports written and people admonished.

There follows a period of silence until the next investigation which unfathomably but invariably finds more of the same.

The latest cycle of this dark game is underway as a result of Animals Australia footage of cattle handling and slaughter in Indonesia shown last night on Four Corners.

But the implications of the live cattle export to Indonesia are widespread and complex. The savagery spreads out beyond the cattle themselves to forests, orangutans, local cattle, farmers and undernourished children. This industry canít move a sinew without smashing something or somebody.

Some background will help understand what is happening.

Food riots in Indonesia and elsewhere in 2008 captured media attention briefly as grain prices peaked and people went hungry. The Indonesian food system has been fragile for decades. In 1995, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, it produced just 2584 calories per person per day. The latest 2007 data shows a slight reduction as productivity increases fail to cope with 20 per cent more people.

Our food system, for comparison, consistently produces about 3200 calories per person per day. When cyclones send banana prices through the roof, we can easily eat something else. When rice prices go up in Indonesia, people go hungry, seriously hungry. The practical impact of a marginal food supply is that some 30-40 per cent of Indonesian children are stunted. They donít get enough food. Stunting during childhood usually causes a host other physical and mental problems in later life.

Australiaís live cattle exports to Indonesia have mushroomed since the mid 1990s and we are now sending half a million cattle to Indonesia annually. Doesnít that mean more meat for children and less sick kiddies?

Only if the batteries in your bullshit detector are flat.

What do you think happens? People who are having trouble affording rice just duck down to the supermarket and pick up a steak or a bucket of mince to give little Bambang a growth spurt? There are 225 million Indonesians who share about half the quantity of beef consumed by Australiaís 22 million fatties. But guess what tourists and wealthy Indonesians get to eat in Jakarta restaurants and hotels?

What has this large growth in live cattle export done to the Indonesian beef supply? Nothing. Nada. Zip. There has been no increase in the per capita beef supply since 1995. Tick, tick, tick, work it out. Guess what has happened to the indigenous cattle herd? Globalised markets ... survival of the fattest. The local cattle industry has declined by the same amount the import industry has grown.

But wait, thereís more. Thereís not a lot of pasture in Indonesia so almost all the feeder cattle from Australia end up in feedlots for 90 days.

And what drives these feedlots? What do the cattle eat? Remember all those TV programs about palm oil? Remember the bull-dozed tropical forests and dead and orphaned orangutans replaced by palm oil plantations? Palm kernel cake is now the main component of cattle rations in feedlots.

Probably in the very feedlots that produce the beef that TV documentary crews eat at their hotels while making stories about the horrors of palm oil. Palm kernel cake is what you get when you crush palm kernels to make palm kernel oil. Itís a high protein food similar to the soy bean cake left after the oil is extracted from soy beans.

Warning: satire alert.

So can you see the beauty of the system? We have deforested large areas of Australia to run cattle. To run the northern herd for Indonesia, we burn huge areas of the top end every year in massive conflagrations to prevent reforestation and the drawing down of any of that carbon from our coal burning. Hell - we wouldnít want that. All this destruction allows us to produce cattle at bargain prices just ready for fattening.

Then we sell these cheap feeder cattle to Indonesia and they obliterate their tropical forests and orangutans for the final fattening. Deforest one, get one free. But the bonuses just keep coming. Cheap feeder cattle drive the little producers out of business, this means that instead of small local Bali cattle eating rice straw and turning it into useful manure locally, the post-harvest rice straw is sent to feedlots which concentrate manure to maximise its potential for damage.

Then most of the beef is eaten by the rich and when the rich get bowel cancer and heart disease they do what the rich everywhere do ... demand first class medical attention. This consumes resources which might otherwise get frittered away providing clean water to some grotty little village in the back of nowhere.

Isnít it wonderful what can be achieved with a little cooperation and globalised markets?

End of satire!

Exporting cattle to Indonesia does nothing for the poor of Indonesia. But it makes the destruction of tropical forests and indigenous wildlife like orangutans more profitable.

http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/slaughterhouse-live-our-bloody-cattle-exports/