Live cattle plan from Port Alma to Asia within six months

IF ALL goes to plan, cattle producers across Central Queensland could one day be flying their cattle out of the Rockhampton Airport straight to Asia.

But at this stage a new committee has its sights set on creating an export market from Port Alma to China and Vietnam.

The Live Export Steering Committee yesterday had its first meeting to discuss the options available and look at the plan's feasibility.

Keppel MP Bruce Young, who set up the committee with Australian Ag Advisory director Peter Watkins, said they hoped to start exporting in as little as six months.

They are looking at exporting cattle to the key Asian markets, and if all goes well they will also explore getting breeders and dairy cattle involved.

Mr Young said the market would create more avenues for primary producers and enhance the market to improve profitability.

He said they had the support of Gladstone Ports Corporation chief executive officer Craig Doyle, Premier Campbell Newman and Agriculture Minister John McVeigh.

A Gladstone Ports Corporation spokesperson confirmed they had had discussions with the committee.

"GPC does believe that there is a potential opportunity to export cattle through Port Alma and is keen to be involved, and will work with the groups involved to assess the opportunity," the spokesperson said.

Mr Young said it would cost the same amount to ship cattle out of Port Alma as it would to put cattle on a truck to Townsville for export.

At this stage cattle is expected to be sourced from the Callide and Burnett Valley areas, as well as the wider CQ area and possibly from down south.

"If the opportunity makes itself available to bring dairy heifers north to this facility, we'll certainly look at it," he said.

Mr Young said Queensland's export market was about $14.6billion, with 38% of that for beef.

"We want to double that by 2040," he said.

A ramp to load the cattle onto ships and a holding yard will need to be built, but at present three b-double trucks are able to fit on the apron at once.

The committee is made up of representatives of government, AgForce and primary producers.

Topics:  cattle port alma rockhampton airport

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