Beef cattle

​​​​​​Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, January 2018

These fact sheets provi​de current information about how the Australian Government is supporting the agriculture, fisheries and water sectors, and are available for download.


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Beef cattle

The beef cattle industry makes an important contribution to the Australian economy. In 2015–16 it accounted for about 23 per cent ($13.1 billion) of the total gross value of farm production and 22 per cent of the total value of farm export income.

Around 57 per cent of all Australian farms carry beef cattle, making this the most common agricultural activity in Australia. Beef cattle farms are an important part of the rural economy in almost all regions of Australia.


Building a stronger beef industry

The Australian Government is driving a more profitable, resilient and sustainable beef sector by:

  • providing $8.3 million to fund the Livestock Global Assurance Program
  • providing more than $4.8 million through the Rural R&D for Profit program to deliver new technologies to improve the accuracy of measuring yield and eating quality of beef, sheep and pork meat
  • providing dollar-for-dollar matching funds of $49.3 million in 2016–17 alongside the funding already invested by the sector through levies—for R&D to advance the cattle, goat, lamb and sheep sector
  • providing $3.3 million to Beef Australia to deliver the 2018 national exposition in Rockhampton, Queensland 6-12 May 2018
  • eliminating beef tariffs with China by 1 January 2024 under the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement, which came into force on 20 December 2015
  • negotiating improved market access arrangements for the live cattle trade to Indonesia
  • supporting Casino Beef Week by providing $1 million to deliver beef week events from 2017 to 2020
  • improving cattle farmer access to seasonal workers by reducing the tax rate to 15% for those on working holidays
  • implementing a comprehensive foreign investment framework for agriculture to improve transparency and give the community and investors confidence in our foreign investment arrangements
  • introducing new country of origin labelling laws making it easier for consumers to see how much of their food is Australian made, grown or produced
  • introducing legislation to establish an ‘effects test’ in national competition law to protect small businesses from the impact of anti-competitive conduct by large, counterparty businesses
  • providing $25.8 million over 4 years to help manage the effects of pest animals and weeds in drought-affected areas, and an additional $50 million for pest animals and weeds across Australia.

Key Facts

  • Beef cattle are produced in every state and territory of Australia.
  • Farms running beef cattle manage more than 75% of the total area of agricultural land in Australia.
  • In 2015–16 and 2016–17 farm cash incomes of Australian beef-producing farms are estimated to have been the highest in over 20 years.
  • In 2016–17 Australia shipped around 290,000 tonnes of beef to Japan, our biggest export market.
  • Australia exported beef to 84 countries in 2016–17.
  • Australia is one of the few countries to have negotiated access for live feeder and slaughter cattle to China.
  • In 2016, Australia exported more than 3 million feeder, slaughter and breeder livestock to the world, including around 1 million feeder and slaughter cattle exported to 16 markets.
  • Australians consumed around 26 kilograms of beef per person in 2016–17.


Export markets for beef and veal 2016-17


Income from beef farming, 1989 to 2017


Further information

General inquiry 1800 900 090
GPO Box 858, Canberra ACT 2601

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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