Decline in livestock production forecast for Australia

By Georgi Gyton

- Last updated on GMT

Higher export prices are expected for sheepmeat and beef
Higher export prices are expected for sheepmeat and beef

Related tags Meat United states Australia China Beef Lamb Livestock Pork

Australian livestock production is forecast to decrease by 2.1% in 2014-15, according to the latest Agricultural Commodities report from the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture (ABARES).

The number of beef cattle is expected to drop to 24.2 million head (-2%) over the 12 months to 30 June 2015, "reflecting relatively high cattle slaughter and strong demand for live exports".

Higher export prices are also expected for beef and sheepmeat, said the report, however export earnings from overall livestock and livestock production is to fall by 1.1% to AUS$18.1bn, following an increase of 22.6% in the previous year.

A 20% fall in export earnings is expected for mutton, while earnings from lamb are forecast to rise by 2%, live feeder/slaughter by 7%, and live sheep by 24%. The country exported a record amount of lamb in 2013-14 (226,000 tonnes), as business to China, the Middle East and the United States, increased.

According to the report, Australian beef and veal exports were worth AUS$6.3bn in 2013-14 - a 29% increase on the previous year, with exports volumes to the United States, China, Republic of Korea, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia growing strongly. It added that Australia was likely to exporting live cattle to Cambodia for the first time in 2014-15.

It is anticipated that pig prices will fall by 1% in 2014-15, due to higher domestic production, while exports are expected to increase. In 2013-14 the total value of Australian pig meat exports increased by 5% to AUS$85m, with supplies increasing to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong.

Total farm production is forecast to decline 5.3%, while crop production is estimated to see a 7.9% fall.

Jammie Penm, chief community analyst, ABARES, said the decline would see agricultural production levels return to those seen in 2012-13.

"Alongside the expected decline in farm production volumes, there is also a forecast decline in the prices received for Australian exports in 2014-15.

"These factors are contributing to an expected decline of 7.7 per cent in farm export earnings in 2014-15, to around $37.9 billion,"​ he said, adding that even with the decline the figure was still 7% above the 10 year average to 2012-13.

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