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Cablegate: Halal: Keep the Knife Sharp and the Prayers Coming

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHJA #1172 1680805
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 160805Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9297
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME//USUNMISSION ROME// 2044

UNCLAS JAKARTA 001172

USDA FOR D/US LAMBERT, D/US TERPSTRA
USDA/FAS/OA YOST, MILLER, JACKSON
FAS/OCRA/CRIKER, HIGGISTON, RADLER
FAS/OGA/CHAUDRY, DWYER
FAS/OCBD/SHEIKH
FAS/OSTA/HAMILTON, KNIGHT
FAS/OFSO/YOUNG
US MISSION ROME FOR AG COUNS HEGWOOD

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD EAGR ID
SUBJECT: Halal: Keep the Knife Sharp and the Prayers Coming

1. (U) Summary. In a twenty-four hour stopover in Jakarta 10-11
June following participation in an APEC Avian Influenza activity in
Bali, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Regulatory and Marketing
Programs Chuck Lambert made a courtesy call on senior Ministry of
Agriculture (MOA) officials, and met with the USG Avian Influenza
assessment team, and Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) officials
involved in halal certification of food products for the Indonesian
market. The meeting with MUI officials revealed that MUI officials
participation in the USDA Cochran Program visit to halal certifying
bodies in the US opened a line of communication that will support
the establishment of a more transparent and workable system for
certification of US food products in Indonesia. End Summary.

Call on Secretary General, MOA
--------------------------------------------- --------

2. A Call on Dr. Hasanuddin Ibrahim, Secretary General, MOA and a
number of senior staff on 10 June provided Dr. Lambert the chance to
highlight the US position regarding issues recently raised in the
FAO Summit, which the Indonesian Minister of Agriculture attended.
These included the US positions on the impact of biofuels production
on food prices, biotechnology and export restrictions for food
products and agricultural commodities. In addition, the recent
agreement by the USG to accede to Japanese food aid grants or sales
of Market Access Rice (MAS) stocks were also discussed. In response
to the Secretary General's request for continued collaboration with
USDA, he was provided with details regarding a 2002 PL 480 Agreement
with the GOI in which the GOI agreed to set aside $US 3 million for
agriculturally-related Fulbright activities. The Ministry of
Finance has earmarked the funds, but to date the MOA has not applied
for their use, nor prepared any proposals for the program.

3. The Secretary General provided little detail as to MOA positions
with respect to these issues, but promised to study them with his
staff. The one issue that he raised was the difficulty in
developing the agricultural potential of Papua, which he stated was
a priority for the MOA.

The Cochran Fellows from MUI, a Window of Opportunity?
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4. On June 11 - the Deputy Under Secretary and emboff met with two
MUI officials, a staffer from the Directorate General for Livestock
Services, MOA, and an official from B-POM, the GOI equivalent of the
US FDA. These officials had recently returned from a USDA Cochran
Fellowship Program to a number of halal certifying bodies in the US
as well as a series of animal product processing establishments.
All sponsored travelers were very positive on the benefits of
learning more about food processing and the halal process in the US.
From the discussion, it appears that the Cochran event exceeded
expectations of the Cochran Fellows and FAS/Jakarta as well. The
unofficial group spokesman, a senior auditor for MUI, noted that one
of his goals now is to move forward with the halal certification
process, in collaboration with certifying bodies in the US, to be
able to provide reasonably priced US beef for consumption by
Indonesia's Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. The team
would like to see the use of a very sharp knife for animal welfare
reasons, continual prayers as animals are slaughtered versus just at
the beginning of a shift, and stunning that does not immediately
kill the animal in question, in the US animal processing
establishments.

Hume

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