AUSTRALIA - A Queensland meat processor predicts the price of beef could fall by as much as 30 per cent if the US starts exporting beef to Australia again.
"US beef is traditionally more expensive than local meat, and therefore American exporters don't think it is worth selling in Australia."
Australia has not accepted imports of beef products from the US since 2001, following outbreaks of mad cow disease around the world.
However, the Federal Government is currently assessing the biosecurity risk of uncooked beef imports, and trade could resume by as early as July if it is deemed to be safe.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand recently assessed the mad cow risk of US beef was very low.
"It is not assured US beef will come to Australia but it is highly likely in the back half of the year," said Terry Nolan from Nolan Meats at Gympie near the Sunshine Coast.
US beef is traditionally more expensive than local meat, and therefore American exporters don't think it is worth selling in Australia.
However, a shortage of cattle in Australia means local prices are higher than usual, providing an incentive for US exporters.
Mr Nolan said if beef imports from the US resume, beef prices in Australia would fall.
"Australia has a depleted herd and we're seeing record cattle prices, whereas the US has large inventories of cold stored beef," he said.
"They have an increasing herd and a decreasing price of their live cattle, so I think it is almost inevitable we will see US beef come to Australia.
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