News World Beef company becomes sixth Australian supplier cut off by China

Beef company becomes sixth Australian supplier cut off by China

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A sixth meat supplier is in the firing line of Canberra’s beef with Beijing, with products from a Queensland-based abattoir stopped from entering China.

The Chinese government has confirmed the suspension of Meramist Pty Ltd products but by Tuesday morning it had not explained the decision.

Beijing had previously banned five other abattoirs in the first half of this year, citing issues with labelling and health certificates.

It has also imposed tariffs of up to 212 per cent on Australian barley and wine, stopped lobsters from being unloaded in China and caused delays on the arrival of coal.

China’s General Administration of Customs said on Monday night that China stopped receiving applications and registration for beef exports from the Meramist plant from December 7.

The New Daily has contacted Meramist for comment.

Meramist has previously made headlines after being at the centre of an animal cruelty scandal exposed by the ABC’s 7.30 program.

Earlier this year, Biosecurity Queensland charged three men connected to the company after footage emerged of former racehorses being kicked and hit before they were slaughtered at Meramist’s Caboolture facility.

The men pleaded guilty in court in July. 

Winemakers fear retailers will

Meanwhile, Australian wine industry advocates have revealed the toll new Chinese tariffs are having on small wineries.

Many independent Australian growers took a hit this year from the summer’s bushfires and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Beijing’s tariff hike of up to 212 per cent could be the final nail in the coffin.

A survey of 65 independent wineries in South Australia, released Monday night, found almost half were worried about the future of their business. Last year the results were 25 per cent.

First it was drought, then floods, then fires. Then winemakers faced COVID-19 and China. Photo: Getty

“2020 has been the most disruptive year in recent history for South Australia’s wine industry,” chief executive of the South Australian Wine Industry Association Brian Smedley said.

“COVID-19 and China investigations into anti-dumping have followed a series of environmental set-backs, generating uncertainty and making planning for the future more difficult.”

Western Australian winemaker Byron & Harold has been devastated by the tariffs, and now faces laying off staff in the middle of a pandemic and economic downturn.

“The Chinese Government’s decision to pre-emptively impose crippling tariffs on Australian wineries has knocked our business for six,” owner Ralph Dunning told AAP.

“Practically overnight, we have lost at least 50 per cent of our turnover.”

The timing of the tariffs just before Christmas makes a dire situation even worse, Rosenthal winemaker Coby Ladwig said.

There are fears major retailers will take advantage of the situation and barter down contracts.

Growers are calling on Australians to buy local straight from the source this summer and on the industry to ban together to “stop the squeeze” on independent winemakers.

-with AAP