NORTHERN cattle producers were too heavily reliant on live export prior to the 2011 suspension, a respected rural land valuer says.
Agribusiness Valuations Australia boss Sam Paton, who has valued rural properties for decades and rang the alarm yield projections made by managed investment scheme companies were unrealistic, said Northern Territory farms had been too dependent on Indonesia's live cattle trade.
"(Agriculture minister Joe) Ludwig's decision didn't come at a very appropriate time, but ... Indonesians controlled the bank balance of these people long before Ludwig intervened."
The fact Indonenesia could refuse any animals heavier than 350kg added to risk in the industry, he said.
A 2009 Meat and Livestock Australia report found average debt per unit of livestock had doubled in a decade and returns on assets had crashed to less than 2 per cent, he said.
Senator Ludwig said he was working to "actively investigate and open new trade markets".
"Australian beef exports to emerging markets have increased in recent years," Senator Ludwig said.
They accounted for "around 31 per cent of total Australian beef exports in 2010-11, compared with only around 8 per cent in 2004-05," he said.