Scene from the Casino Cattle sales.
Scene from the Casino Cattle sales.

High dollar slows beef export

THE HIGH Aussie dollar is making Australian beef too expensive to attract buyers from the United States.

This was just one of the factors making life tougher for beef farmers in Northern NSW, according to Lismore livestock auctioneer Glenn Weir.

“The demand for beef is still there, but it gets back to price,” Mr Weir said.

Since the Australian dollar began climbing the massive US market has begun to turn to cheaper sources of meat on the world wide market.

Mr Weir said the future of the Australian beef industry was hard to predict but he was trying to remain positive.

And while the export market has suffered a dip, things at home have seen some improvement.

The widespread drought which saw the domestic market flooded with beef from farmers destocking has begun to improve.

Recent rain has meant farmers have begun to restock, but without the export dollar there to drive the demand prices have remained low.

At Tuesday’s auction at Lismore Saleyard, with 360 cattle in the yard, the beef price was down five cents per kilo.

Top line vealers made $2.03 per kilo, but most made between $1.88 and $1.98. Good butcher vealers made $1.90 per kilo, small weaner steers sold to $1.90 and the highest price paid for a cow was $1.22, which returned $812.

Mr Weir predicted things may get worse.

The price of cattle had not changed much in 15 years, while the cost of farming had tripled, he said.

However, the industry was far from dead and farmers should not take a doom and gloom view, he said.

Most farmers in Northern NSW, these days, he said, had day jobs and growing beef was a part-time enterprise.

“It used to be a farm would support a whole family, now a whole family is needed to support the farm,” Mr Weir said.

Another obstacle farmers were facing was the cost of land in Northern NSW where competition from a wide range of agricultural enterprises had pushed prices up.

“It’s very hard for a young person trying to get into the industry with the price of land,” Mr Weir said.

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