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Survey highlights widespread optimism in beef sector

27 March 2024

Key points:

  • The inaugural BPIS reveals widespread optimism among Australian beef producers.
  • Survey highlights positive sentiment for the industry’s future, with 38% of producers optimistic about the next 12 months.
  • Regional differences noted, with northern producers showing greater optimism, while WA producers expect a decrease in herd size.

The inaugural Beef Producers Intentions Survey (BPIS), facilitated by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), has indicated a sense of optimism among Australian beef producers regarding the  industry over the next 12 months.

The BPIS, scheduled three times a year, covers different sectors of the Australian grassfed cattle industry. encompassing sentiment, herd profile (age, sex and breed information), herd intentions, factors influencing on-farm decisions, cull rates, bull purchases, calving rates, sales channels and type of operation.

Conducted throughout November and December 2023, the survey noted improvements in producer sentiment and market conditions. Towards the end of the year, the country experienced a return to more favourable weather conditions after the volatile market in 2023, leading to a brighter outlook for producers in 2024.

Among the 3,767 surveyed producers across Australia, 38% expressed optimism about the beef industry over the next year, while 26% indicated a negative sentiment. Notably, larger producers exhibited a more positive outlook compared to their smaller counterparts.

Of the 38% that had an optimistic view about the beef industry, 59% expressed a likelihood of retaining more heifers than usual. Northern producers showed a 62% inclination towards retaining more heifers, with southern closely behind at 58%. Overall, northern producers demonstrated a more positive outlook for the industry compared to southern producers.

The southern herd is expected to contract by 1% and the northern herd is expected to grow by 3%. While the southern herd has reached maturity after four consecutive years of favourable weather conditions in terms of rainfall, the northern herd is anticipated to grow in 2024.

The BPIS revealed that northern producers exhibit greater optimism than southern producers. Furthermore, regional variations were observed, with Queensland producers displaying a more positive outlook compared to those in other states, while producers in WA held a notably less optimistic view. WA producers forecasted a 7% reduction in herd size, while Queensland producers anticipated a 4% increase.

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