Meat & Livestock News

Wet Summer Puts Brakes on Aussie Slaughter Train


  • Unexpected wet summer conditions in Australia have slowed down the anticipated high slaughter rates due to earlier drought predictions, offering relief to New Zealand sheep farmers.
  • Australian agriculture is on an upward trajectory, with the sector’s value expected to reach A$100 billion in the next five years, driven by significant growth in crop and livestock production.
  • Despite a better year ahead, challenges remain in maintaining low agricultural carbon emissions, with Australia aiming to improve its sustainability credentials.

In a turn of events that has brought some solace to New Zealand sheep farmers, Australia’s agricultural sector has experienced an unexpected slowdown in livestock slaughter rates. This development comes after a period of intense offloading in anticipation of El Niño-induced drought conditions, which, contrary to expectations, gave way to a wetter summer across most regions, excluding Western Australia.

Dr. Jared Greenville, Director of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), shared an optimistic outlook for Australian agriculture at the agency’s annual Outlook conference in Canberra.

He highlighted the sector’s resilience in the face of early drought fears, noting that the actual wetter conditions have helped stabilise supply and moderate slaughter rates. This shift is particularly relevant for sheep, where slaughter rates had surged by 12.5% over the previous year, impacting international prices.

The Australian agricultural sector is witnessing a period of significant growth, with its value projected to approach A$100 billion within five years, a notable increase from the steady A$60 billion annual value anticipated by many.

This growth is attributed to remarkable responses in the cropping sector and advancements in livestock productivity, including beef and dairy. The expansion of cotton production and horticultural outputs, such as fruits, nuts, and vegetables, further underscores the sector’s dynamic nature.

Looking ahead, Australian farmers are expected to see improved financial outcomes, with average broadacre properties moving from losses to profits. This positive shift reflects the sector’s journey from heavy subsidies to a more self-sustained model, with productivity gains playing a crucial role.

However, the challenge of maintaining low agricultural carbon emissions remains. Australia prides itself on being among the world’s leaders in low emissions intensity in agriculture, yet there is a pressing need for further efforts to sustain and enhance its sustainability credentials. As the sector continues to grow, its contribution to total emissions is expected to increase, underscoring the importance of ongoing environmental stewardship.

This nuanced scenario presents both opportunities and challenges for Australian agriculture, as it navigates the delicate balance between productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability.