Improving roads for the transport of cattle in Northern Australia will be the hot topic discussed in the Kimberley Region on Monday.

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CSIRO researchers will join Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss, State, Territory, local government and beef industry representatives at Kununurra on the eastern edge of the Kimberley.

The roundtable, hosted by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, will identify road investment priorities under the Northern Australia Beef Roads Programme.

The Australian Government’s $100 million Northern Australia Beef Roads Programme is focused on improving the Northern Australia cattle supply chains, with CSIRO modelling and the beef community providing assistance for the identification of investment priorities.

"The great thing about meeting with people from the beef and transport community is they know their local roads and they know what is needed," Andrew Higgins from CSIRO’s Land and Water said.

"Roads are vast in Northern Australia and during the wet season it can be difficult to move cattle around.

"The beef industry is working closely with CSIRO to improve transport infrastructure in the region."

The TRAnsport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TRANSIT), developed by CSIRO, helps inform the decision making around the selection of submissions for funding under the Beef Roads Programme.

TRANSIT identifies ways to reduce travel distance and time, saving fuel costs, cutting down on wear and tear and minimising stress for both truck drivers and cattle.

The state-of-the-art logistics tool provides the most comprehensive mapping and optimisation of the cattle supply chain in Australia.

It accounts for 20 million cattle transport movements in a given year between over 100,000 enterprises across Australia.

The first roundtable discussion was held in Rockhampton during October, with the subsequent roundtable to be held in Kununurra, Western Australia on Monday (Nov 16).

Following these meetings, CSIRO will analyse and model the benefits of proposed improvements to Northern Australia Beef road corridors, identify those with the highest benefits for the beef industry and provide estimates of savings in transport costs.

"The potential use of TRANSIT is more far-reaching than beef," Dr Higgins said.

"Each year, over 50 million tonnes of agriculture are transported to storage, processing and export facilities."

As one of the initiatives of the Australian Government’s Agriculture Competitiveness White Paper, CSIRO is currently extending TRANSIT to over 95 per cent of agriculture transport.

This will include supply chains between production and port or domestic markets for various grains, dairy, sugar, cotton, pigs, rice, sheep, poultry, grapes and a wide range of horticulture and fruit and vegetables.

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  • Cattle in feedlot.

    About 20 million cattle are transported across Australia in an average year with a large proportion using Northern Australian roads.

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