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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2008
page 29 C aTTL e COUNCIL OF a USTR a LI a Y ea RBOOK 2008 Cattle slaughterings remained relatively high during 2006- 07 and into the first half of 2007-08 as drought conditions continued. However there was a small fall in the size of the cattle herd to 28.2 million by June 20074. Cattle numbers are forecast to remain around 28.2 million in June 2008. With an improvement in seasonal conditions over the past few months, particularly in Queensland and northern NSW, producers are expected to retain additional stock in order to commence rebuilding their herds. Reflecting an increased retention of female cattle for breeding, total slaughterings are forecast to fall by 2% to 8.6 million tonnes in 2008-09. The gross value of beef slaughterings in 2006-07 was $7 034.7 million up from the 2001-02 figure of $6 616.9 million5. Despite little competition from the United States, exports of australian beef to Japan and Korea are forecast to be down in 2007-08 because of reduced turnoff of grainfed cattle. In the December quarter of 2007-08, the number of cattle on feed in australia fell to 584 000, down from over 900 000 a year earlier6. The decline reflects high australian feeder cattle prices and the eroding effect on export revenues of the appreciation of the australian dollar against the Japanese yen. The demand for imported beef in the United States softened as US cow slaughter increased over the latter half of 2007 in response to dry seasonal conditions and US cow prices fell. With herd liquidation expected to continue during 2008, US demand for imported manufacturing beef is likely to remain low. The weaker US demand, combined with constrained supply as australian producers begin rebuilding herds, is expected to lead to a fall in beef exports to the United States in 2007-08. exports are forecast to fall further in 2008-09 as australian saleyard prices rise and US demand remains relatively weak. Over the past five years, beef production in South america, particularly in Brazil and Uruguay, has increased. However, competition from Brazil and argentina in australia’s main export market has been limited as a result of foot and mouth disease related trade restrictions and export controls in argentina. a projected fall in australian saleyard prices and an assumed depreciation of the australian dollar against the US dollar will assist in making australian beef exports more competitive. 1 Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey, 31 March 2008 2 aBaRe australian Beef 07.2 3 aBaRe australian beef 07.2 4 aBaRe Commodities, vol 15, no 1 march quarter 5 aBaRe commodity statistics 2007 6 aBaRe australia Commodities vol 15 no 1 – march quarter Figure B3