AUSTRALIA has lost its live cattle trade to Indonesia for up to 12 months - and possibly forever.
And farmers have lost any remaining confidence they may have had in federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig.
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Current live export permits for cattle to be shipped from Australia to Indonesia expire tomorrow and new ones, for the next quarter, have not been issued amid reports Indonesian importers are looking elsewhere for cattle.
The Federal Government this month banned live cattle exports to Indonesia.
NT Cattlemen's Association chief executive Luke Bowen said the decision effectively locked Australian producers out of the live trade to Indonesia for 12 months and threatened the future of northern pastoral businesses.
He labelled Senator Ludwig an "embarrassment" and "ill- informed".
"The next wet season is fast approaching and time is critical. If we get to October and are still looking for entry into that market, it will be too late," Mr Bowen said.
"Ships that cart the cattle are waiting, some at a cost of $100,000 per day. That can't last."
If a deal wasn't made soon, Indonesian importers would find beef to replace the Australian imports.
Senator Ludwig refused to be drawn on when live exports to Indonesia might resume.