September 3, 2003

 

 

Pig Prices in Australia Are Seen to Rise 

 

Heavy rain, falling grain prices and rising pork prices have brightened the outlook for southern Australian pig producers.

 

Many producers in the nation's sheep-wheat belt have struggled with water shortages and high grain prices, forcing them to cull their sows and cut livestock numbers.

 

Herd rebuilding is now the priority along with increased plantings of feed grain.

 

As the largest pork-producing state, NSW had 100,000 sows and 815 producers before the drought.

 

But about 5 per cent of producers have either left the industry or shut their piggeries for the year.

 

NSW Farmers Association pork committee chairman Peter Roberson said widespread rain had improved the outlook.

 

Mr Roberson said producers were also buoyed by stronger exports to Japan and Singapore. "Prices have risen 20c/kg in the past month from a low of 180c/kg and look like going further," he said. "Any producer who has lived through this cost squeeze will be in the industry for quite a few years."

 

A recent phone survey by NSW Agriculture has revealed a net loss of 5000-6000 sows in NSW and gains in Western Australia and South Australia.

 

NSW Agriculture livestock officer (pigs) Chris Brewster said the drought had given the industry a huge shake-up with several large breeding units of 500 sows or more closing.

 

Mr Brewster said rain, coupled with a $100/tonne fall in grain prices and average bacon prices of 210c/kg, had renewed producer confidence.

 

South East Riverina Pork Producers committee member Rick Clancy said the drought had accelerated the industry fall-out rate among small producers.

 

Mr Clancy said about 40 per cent of the region's sows had been lost with the closure of five piggeries. But he said the remaining producers would concentrate on rebuilding numbers. "The rain has improved the spirits of the district and we are going into spring with renewed enthusiasm," Mr Clancy said. "Pig prices are starting to move up and we are confident they will keep rising towards Christmas."