The industry, a decade on.

Host: Anna Plains Station
Written by David Stoate – Owner, Anna Plains Station.

The ten years since we moved from the city life to outback life have been tumultuous from a personal point of view but also from an industry point of view, with more ups and downs than the Grand Old Duke of York.

Back in 2006 the industry and Anna Plains Station were both humming along quite nicely. Prices were firm, input prices were under control, we had just come off a decent wet season and the industry seemed to have the respect of Government. It was certainly downhill after that with just about everything you can think of going wrong.

Our friendly and quiet Brahman cattle intrigued by the Ute. Photo by Sabine Albers.

We’ve since copped it in the neck from all three levels of Government, from all sides of the political spectrum. Local Government imposed exorbitant shire rates while providing no services. The State Government increased our pastoral lease rents by 400% (with the poorest land tenure in Australia) and I am sure everyone knows what the Federal Government did. When we could sell cattle, prices were poor and input prices rocketed.

The entire industry hopes all those dark days are behind us and there is reason to look to the future with some degree of optimism. There is plenty to be positive about when it comes to Australian agriculture such as increased demand from key markets in Asia and rising demand for agricultural products generally.

4-2-copyMustering the cattle, moving them off the turkey nest (above ground dam).

Cattle prices have increased significantly in 2016 thanks to a combination of increased global demand for beef products and restrictions in supply throughout most of Australia. No-one knows how long the decent cattle prices will last for. Everyone expects prices to moderate in the future because that is what traditionally happens when prices rise.

It is possible that the beef industry may have reached a new paradigm with demand from China putting a floor under international prices. A recent report from Bank West suggests that Australian beef exports to China could increase from $1 billion to $4.5 billion over the next 15 years.

Even the heifers are excited for the future! Photo by Sabine Albers.

The industry needs to continue to be vigilant. We are always only one bad media report away from being brought to our knees once again. It is possible to plan for falls in prices or dry seasons. The adverse actions of Governments are much more difficult to plan for. On the Plains, we are not standing still. Apart from our relentless pursuit of lower production costs, we are also attempting to value-add to our herd by introducing some Wagyu genetics.

4-4-copyFantastic double rainbow . . . ever hopeful for the rain!