Linden Morris

Our beef is booming: Record NSW beef exports

WHILE the drought in the USA is taking a toll on the American cattle herd, Clarence beef farmers are helping fill the void as NSW records the highest slaughter and export rates in a decade.

The Rural Bank's National Beef Update found NSW frozen beef exports jumped 148% in 2014.

It also found American frozen beef imports were higher than Japanese imports for the first time since 2002.

The report indicated conditions varied across the country, but beef producers in NSW were capitalising on favourable conditions.

Ray Donovan Stock and Station Agents principal Ray Donovan said the record exports had helped the Clarence Valley market's recent high prices.

"The US is going through the driest season for many years," Mr Donovan said.

"Their herd has been reduced dramatically."

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Mr Donovan said the US had always been a large importer, but their herd reduction had pushed US cattle prices so high they needed to import Australian beef to satisfy their demand.

Media reports indicate the average retail price of regular ground beef in the USA has risen 41% in the last three years.

"The Americans are importing beef to satisfy their local market," Mr Donovan said.

"The low Australian dollar and high cattle prices have been a godsend to us.

"I think the market will stay good for a while, but anything can change."

Rural Bank sales general manager Andrew Smith said continued high prices and favourable domestic market conditions are underpinning a sense of confidence within the Australian beef sector.

"These strong market conditions are welcome news for New South Wales beef producers," Mr Smith said.

"The 148 % growth in frozen beef is remarkable, but encouragement can also be derived from the steady growth in fresh beef and hide.

"This optimism is tempered by the drought across northern New South Wales and other states."

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