INDONESIA is likely to cut the number of cattle it sources from Australia despite Canberra's announcement to resume live exports.
The announcement from Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig yesterday that the live trade could resume means Indonesia is now expected to maintain its 2011 import quota of 500,000 head of cattle.
But the director-general of livestock with the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture says his office, which provides advice on the number of import permits to be issued to Indonesian feedlots each quarter, would recommend a hefty cut in live cattle from Australia from next year.
Prabowo Caturroso said he would also be recommending that imports of chilled boxed beef be cut back.
The comments come after Mr Caturroso's office last week delayed issuing the July-September quarter permits for cattle imported from Australia while the suspension was in place.
The recommendations are based on the latest census of cattle available for slaughter in Indonesia, which are not due for official release until October.
They are the first evidence that Indonesia is more advanced than previously thought with its plans to be self-sufficient in beef production by 2014.
They show it has increased its stocks of cattle available for slaughter to about 14.4 million - well in excess of the 14.2 million Jakarta believes is needed for Indonesia to become self-sufficient.
"With this kind of number, it says that we're already self-sufficient," Mr Caturroso said.
"For next year's (quota), we will make it based on the census, because with this significant number, the number of imports will definitely go down."
At present Indonesia relies on Australia for 25 per cent of its beef supply, both from live cattle and boxed beef.
But although Mr Caturroso said imports would still be needed, particularly as the quality of beef produced in Indonesia was lower, he maintained a large cut was likely.
"We could not be free from import, especially for industries like international hotels, international restaurants. These still could not be fulfilled domestically," he said.
"(But) we don't need to import cattle and (boxed) meat in big number.
"We estimate this need would only be five or maximum 10 per cent of national needs."
The plan to cut back on cattle and boxed beef imports will be a blow to the cattle industry in Australia, despite the announcement that $320 million-a-year live trade with Indonesia was set to resume.
But industry representatives believe Jakarta's figures are optimistic, while the five-year plan to reach self-sufficiency is the third such scheme since the policy was first introduced in 1999.
Joni Liano, executive director of the Indonesian Meat Producers and Feedlot Association, said many of the cattle were owned by villagers who preferred to hold on to them as an investment rather than send them for slaughter.
"Most of the cattle farmers in Indonesia are small farmers who raise only one or two cattle for savings purposes. If they don't need the money, they will keep them," he said.
There were also challenges in getting the cattle from the outlying provinces to the big cities where the supply was most needed, he said.