Australian producers share live cattle export riches

Zach Relph and Cally DupeCountryman
Australian producers are taking home more than $600 million each year from the live cattle trade.
Camera IconAustralian producers are taking home more than $600 million each year from the live cattle trade. Credit: Alex Massey

Australian producers are raking in more than $600 million annually from live cattle exports, with Indonesia remaining a linchpin for demand, a new industry study has found.

The country’s peak live export development body LiveCorp released its latest market report last Thursday, revealing cattle farmers retain about $630 million a year of revenue generated from live trade.

It also showed 2029 people were employed on-farm directly through the live cattle export sector, according to 2012-17 averages, while about 9799 full-time workers are employed indirectly.

In the report, LiveCorp chief executive Sam Brown said Australia’s cattle producers were an important cog in the nation’s live trade supply chain.

“While exporters are constantly taking action to maintain Australia’s competitiveness and sustainability, producers rarely get to see what is happening further along the supply chain,” he said.

“Yet cattle producers are a vital part of the livestock export industry.

“In fact, they capture between 40 and 57 per cent of revenue from the northern live cattle trade.”

One of the earliest mustering seasons in years has begun in the Kimberley, with two live cattle boats loaded with 7600 head leaving the Broome port last Saturday.

Two more boats are expected to leave the Broome Port in the next fortnight, as pastoralists offload cattle after a dry wet season.

Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association chairman David Stoate said pastoralists were eager to turn-off cattle early, while they were still in good condition.

A 90mm rainfall on March 17 boosted Mr Stoate’s morale after no rain fell in February. He plans to start mustering within the next two weeks.

“Most people in the Kimberley will be getting into it pretty quickly,” Mr Stoate said.

“Pastoralists want to get going.

“It has been a pretty bad wet season, this year was very dry and it is still dry for most pastoralists in the Kimberley.”

It was an early start to the season for Pilbara pastoralists when 3600 cattle were exported from Port Hedland on February 11, six months ahead of schedule.

That boat, the Gudali Express, was ordered to fill contract washouts caused by severe flooding in northern Queensland.

Last year, more than 589,000 cattle from northern Australia were exported to Indonesia.

About 202,000 head were exported to Vietnam, China took 108,720 cattle and about 23,500 were shipped from Australian shores to Malaysia.

Japan, Philippines and Thailand are all firming as smaller export markets for Australia-produced beasts.

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