We read much of the good prices for livestock helping farmers in the drought.
I wonder how the academics, journalists and politicians would react to claims that an 80 per cent reduction in their real salaries is helping them in their lives?
In the 1975-78 cattle depression local calf sales averaged around $60 per head and would buy 400, 15 cent Sydney Morning Heralds (SMH). This autumn, similar calves averaged under $300 and would buy 75, $4 SMHs – an 80 per cent reduction.
This is referred to as “good” when in 1970’s it was a ““bad” and a Depression.
Speakers at Beef 2018 in Rockhampton went further and referred to a cattle boom with “cattlemen spending up in a big way”.
At the time I wondered about the quantity of Queensland rum being consumed at the show.
Things have deteriorated further since and now we have thousands of calves selling for under $100. Anything under 200kgs is not included in the National Livestock Reporting Service or Eastern Young Cattle Indicator and consequently the indicator only shows a 25pc fall in two years.
Southern saleyards are averaging a 50pc fall in per head price on similar times in 2017.
Well finished cattle and lambs are bringing reasonable money but both mostly have consumed a very heavy feed bill and the nett is not pretty. Published stud bull sale prices and clearances are a mystery as they seem to reside in another world to the commercial bloodbath.
Wool is around 30pc of the real price of the Korean War boom of 1950-51. The $1 milk price is a terrible indictment on Government and National Farmers Federation.
There should be a minimum price at retail legislated as the NT Government has done with alcohol.
US feeder calves are averaging $A4.80kg/lw while our figure is $2A.86 kg/lw. It gets worse as the US consumer is paying less than the Australian, their consumption is holding and ours is falling!
Canberra won’t consider our efforts to have a Packers and Stockyard Act, which the US introduced in 1921, and with amendments, now accurately tracks where the share of the consumer dollar lies.
We have a massive problem with the supermarket duopoly.
Producers expecting a surge in price when the drought breaks are likely to be disappointed as the supermarkets will import US Choice beef – as they currently do with subsidised processed pork from Europe and from Canada.
This drought is developing into the worst since the white man arrived. The disaster may be the trigger for a reversal of Canberra’s agriculture policy. It is 50 years overdue.
Their slavish adherence to Washington could see Trump’s America First policy come here with the introduction of real assistance to our farmers in a move to an “Australia First” policy. One lives in hope.
- John Carter