October 11, 2011
Beef producers in Australia's Victoria thrive on strong markets
Victoria's beef producers are thriving on strong store and prime markets coupled with healthy cash flow and widespread rain across the state.
Although the financial impact of the drought was still huge, Victoria's herd was being rebuilt, Department of Primary Industries beef industry development officer Alison Desmond said.
The state has more than 17,000 beef producers and beef is Victoria's second-largest agricultural industry, behind dairy.
According to Meat and Livestock Australia, 35% of producers run more than 100 cattle, while just 8% run more than 400.
Southeastern Victoria has 28% of the beef businesses and the herd, compared with the northeast, which has 21% of businesses and 20% of the herd.
Cattle numbers in the state were 2.78million in the early 1980s and had jumped to 3.7million last year. But, northern Australia's dominant cattle industry would soon affect Victoria, Ms Desmond said.
"Northern beef producers will challenge our standing in the supermarket trade and feedlots as they get better at improving meat quality," she said.
"Our light domestic (butcher trade) market is stable, while the European Union, medium domestic (supermarket) and restaurant trade are growing.
"There is a massive push by lotfeeder JBS Australia to have producers (EU) accredited."
Ms Desmond said Australia had access to a 20,000-tonne EU beef quota, expected to double in the next 12 to 18 months.
Industry confidence has been reflected in the uptake of the technical and research-driven BetterBeef network in Victoria.
Ms Desmond said more than 1200 producers and 750 associate members had joined in the project's first year.
She said 14 accredited training programs had been delivered across the state, and 14 Better Beef groups established.
"It's a good time to be in the beef industry," she said.