A beef industry leader says Australia's northern beef industry is in real trouble.
Chairman of the North Australia Beef Research Council, Ralph Shannon, says a 2010 survey of more than 2,000 producers and the QRAA debt survey found there is little money in the industry for the majority of producers.
"Eighty percent of producers had spent more than they earned in the previous six out of seven years."
Mr Shannon says the average beef operation in Queensland has a debt of $1.4 million, meaning close on $100,000 a year is paid in interest.
He says the QRAA study shows an alarming trend when debt is compared to the gross value of production
"In the past three years, beef industry debt has climbed 17 per cent and the value of production has dropped by 5 per cent."
Mr Shannon says beef producers need to diversify and be less dependent on the boxed beef trade and live exports.
"What I am arguing is that we need to be giving producers production system options, that allow them to have products for different markets, so that they have some different strings to their bow."
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