Bright outlook for Australian livestock industries

8 March 2017

It’s been a big year for Australia’s livestock industries, with relief from the drought, high prices and solid farm income growth providing significant opportunities for cattle and sheep producers.

Acting ABARES Chief Commodity Analyst, Trish Gleeson, said that following exceptional returns in 2015–16, strong results were expected to continue in the coming year.

“In 2016-17, cattle and sheep farms are forecast to see the best farm cash income results in many years,” Ms Gleeson said.

“In 2014-15, with the highest beef cattle turn-off in 36 years, average farm cash incomes increased by around 70 per cent. And they increased by a further 70 per cent in 2015-16, even though slaughter was coming down.

“In 2016-17 incomes are projected to increase again slightly, to average $163,000 a farm.

“Overall, beef farm cash incomes in southern Australia over the past two years have also been the highest recorded in the past 40 years.

“Cash income for sheep farms is expected to increase to an average of $133,000 per farm in 2016-17, which is around 70 per cent above the average over the past 10 years.”

Over the medium term, the volume of beef and sheep meat production and exports are expected to improve.

The volume of beef and sheep meat exported is projected to rise from 1.36 million tonnes to 1.52 million tonnes between 2016-17 and 2012-22.

“Improved market access has supported Australian agriculture, but looking forward, continued effort is needed,” Ms Gleeson said.

“Australia’s export outlook—particularly for beef—is likely to be affected by increasing competition from regions such as South America.

“So productivity growth and infrastructure improvement will be key to securing future opportunities for the Australian livestock industry.”

Ms Gleeson said innovation across livestock industries was strong and increasing adoption will contribute to productivity growth.

The analysis was presented at ABARES Outlook 2017, being held in Canberra on Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8 March. Australia’s leading forum for public and private decision-makers in agriculture, Outlook marks its 47th annual conference this year with expert analysis of innovation in agriculture.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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