October 1, 2003

Further Drop In Australian Beef Output


Beef production in Australia, a major global exporter, slipped further in August from July, extending a slump that began late in 2002, the government's Bureau of Statistics reported Wednesday.


Australian beef production fell 2.2% in August to a seasonally adjusted 153,791 metric tons from 157,267 tons in July, it said. National beef output in August was down 11% from 173,465 tons in August 2002.


Australia exports about two-thirds of its beef, mostly to the U.S. and Japan, with actual exports closely tied to production levels. The bureau reported the total number of cattle slaughtered in August, excluding calves, fell to 614,100 beasts from 628,900 in July and was down from 675,600 in August 2002.


In trend data terms, which further smoothes seasonally adjusted figures, the number of cattle slaughtered in August fell to 623,800 beasts, the ninth monthly consecutive decline, it said in a statement.


The decline in slaughter numbers in August reflects parts of New South Wales and Victoria receiving their best falls of rain since a savage drought began early in 2002, it said.


Australian beef production rose sharply in 2002 as cattle producers sold their beasts in the face of the savage drought, which withered pastures.


With the breaking of the drought in eastern Australia, many producers now mostly are holding beasts on properties to take advantage of rejuvenated pastures.