Australia lifts ban on cattle exports to Indonesia

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SYDNEY (AP) — Australia resumed its $350 million a year live cattle trade with Indonesia on Wednesday following a temporary ban over cruelty concerns.

Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said he was confident that Indonesian slaughterhouses meet Australian animal welfare standards.

The government banned exports to Indonesia last month after an outcry over a video that aired in Australia showing animals screaming and writhing as they were slaughtered.

"The Australian community made it clear it would not support a trade in which these things occurred," Ludwig told reporters on Wednesday. "I want to make it clear the decision to suspend the trade was not an easy decision to make, but it was the right decision."

Under the new system, slaughterhouses will have to prove they meet animal welfare guidelines. Ludwig said tracking and transparency in the cattle supply chain will also be improved.

"The exporter is required to trace the animals from the domestic supply chain into the feedlot, from the feedlot into the abattoir," he said. "The abattoir will be independently audited."

Australia is the world's largest exporter of livestock. Exports of live Australian cattle account for up to 40 percent of the beef eaten in Indonesia.

The government's decision to halt exports was met with outrage by the Australian cattle industry, which blamed the ban for a sharp drop in income. Last month, Australia's best-known Outback cattle ranch, the iconic Bullo River Station in the Northern Territory, was put on the market after its owner said the ban destroyed her livelihood.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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