Strong livestock prices provide relief for drought-affected farmers, says NSW Farmers Association

By Country News

Resilient beef and sheep prices have provided a dose of relief for many farming enterprises amidst a severe drought across most of eastern Australia.

NSW Farmers president James Jackson said most droughts had traditionally been accompanied by a drastic fall in farm gate prices for grazing operations.

‘‘The strong livestock prices through this drought have not come about by chance, they have been built through the tireless work of the Australian livestock industry, with government support, to build our export markets for both live animals and processed meat,’’ Mr Jackson said.

‘‘The ability of drought-affected farmers to realise strong prices for their stock over recent dry years is directly attributable to Australia’s strong export links, including our live export trade.

‘‘Without export options, such as live export, Australian sheep markets would risk a domestic glut, further adding to the financial woes of farmers struggling in drought.’’

He said one of the best ways to build resilience to drought was through accessing lucrative markets and building financial reserves in more favourable times.

Mr Jackson said the past eight live export voyages of sheep to the Middle East, between November 2018 and April 2019, recorded mortality rates of well under 0.5 per cent.

‘‘These low mortality rates demonstrate the trade’s commitment to animal welfare and the success of recent reforms,’’ he said.

‘‘This drought has reinforced the critical role that strong export markets play in underpinning farm and industry resilience.’’