Stanley Vale Merino Stud - News & Views

MLA Strategic Plan 2025: The sheep perspective

Consultation with industry is a critical component in the development of MLA’s five-year Strategic Plan. Throughout our strategy development, we have been using different models to ensure we capture the voice of our stakeholders.

In early March, MLA brought together representatives from across the sheep industry supply chain in a workshop to explore their priorities for the next five years, within the context of MLA’s strategic planning co-design framework.

Here is an overview of what they told us were some of their key issues. During the workshop, each of these issues was examined to better understand the problem the sector was trying to solve.

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Impact of Covid-19 – China in focus

The impact of Covid-19 on each country’s red meat market will be shaped by many factors. This  includes underlying ones, such as the degree of dependence on imports and the prominence of red meat in consumer diets, and more immediate ones, such as how virus-spread control measures are implemented and ability of the healthcare system to deal with serious cases.  

Covid-19’s impact in China was compounded by the crisis coinciding with Lunar New Year, typically the peak season for red meat purchases and consumption and when many businesses shut down for 1-2 weeks holiday. Hence, labour shortages across the supply chain due to quarantining, illness and travel bans were compounded by the national holiday.

While the epicentre of Wuhan responded with the deepest and longest shutdown, our insights below refer mostly to the rest of the country, particularly coastal Tier 1 and 2 cities where the vast majority of Australian red meat arrives, is stored, distributed, further processed and consumed.

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Recovering from natural disasters – practical help for livestock producers

Recovery information sessions are being held throughout bushfire and drought-impacted regions to help livestock producers get ‘Back to Business’ following natural disasters.

Focusing on recovery, experts will be on hand to offer practical advice, tools and information on livestock nutrition, water access and quality, mental health support services and accessing financial and government assistance.

Recovery information sessions in NSW are being hosted by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), its subsidiary Integrity Systems Company, NSW Department of Primary Industries and NSW Local Land Services with support from industry partners including Dairy Australia, Australian Wool Innovation, and NSW Farmers.

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Sheep and lamb market red hot

Mutton

Despite uncertainty in Australia’s largest mutton export market – China – the impact of dwindling supply, accelerated by the recent rain event, has propelled mutton prices to record levels.

Mutton prices typically peak at the beginning of winter before entering a period of decline in late July, albeit the indicator is often influenced by intermittent rainfall in any given year. Therefore, the recent price increase is perhaps unsurprising. However, the rise comes on the back of already elevated mutton prices, with the indicator on Tuesday 18 February reported at 672¢/kg carcase weight (cwt), a remarkable 255¢ above year-ago levels. The strength of the current market will provide some comfort to producers who opted to retain breeding ewes and supplementary feed in the past year.

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Bushfire emergency - Jason Strong, Managing Director, Meat & Livestock Australia

It has been a devastating start to 2020 for many red meat and livestock producers.

We have witnessed catastrophic bushfires roar through millions of hectares of rural and regional Australia, much of it farm land. The number of people and animals affected, plus the amount of infrastructure and vegetation destroyed is unprecedented.

The thoughts of everyone at MLA - some of who have been directly impacted - are with those who have lost loved ones, property, land and livestock.  

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The year that was

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A personalised online dashboard that provides news, weather, events and R&D tools relevant to you.

Customised market information and analysis.

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Saleyard survey state-by-state

The results are in from MLA’s annual saleyard survey, which identifies total number of cattle and sheep consigned to Australia’s saleyards over the course of a financial year.

View the full cattle saleyard survey report.

New South Wales

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Young cattle prices in the west outperform east

Young cattle prices in WA continue to trend above their eastern counterparts, with the west trading at an average premium of 41¢/kg cwt since the start of 2019.  For the week ending 21 November, the Western Young Cattle Indicator (WYCI) averaged 551c/kg, 7% above the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) which was trading at 512.75c/kg.

With no reprieve from dry conditions, restocker confidence in the east remains subdued despite cattle being pulled forward in strong numbers across NSW and Queensland. A failed autumn unsurprisingly maintained elevated yardings over winter for northern centres however high throughput of young cattle has continued into spring, maintaining downwards pressure on the EYCI. Feeder buyers, and more recently processors, have provided some support for store cattle prices, with processors purchasing younger cattle due to strong export returns.

While the EYCI lifted above 500¢/kg in October, following a brief dip in September, the WYCI has been consistently strong, remaining above 500¢/kg since May. For the week ending 21 November, cattle moving through the saleyards in the west surged to near peak levels as the rise in WYCI attracted bigger yardings. While the west has also experienced below average rainfall across 2019, a slightly better autumn rainfall and some restocker activity provided support to the market.

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Telling the true story about red meat

Australia’s red meat industry is operating in an increasingly challenging global environment, not only experiencing tough seasonal conditions in many regions, but also facing significant attention around the sustainability of the red meat and livestock sectors and the place of red meat in a healthy diet.

More than ever before, consumers – particularly in developed markets – are interested in the ‘what, how and who’ behind the products, goods and services they consume. Producers can be proud of what they do and how the outcome of the hard work is nourishing the community. However, with so much information available to consumers, and often with contradictory messages, they can be overwhelmed and confused about the credentials of red meat.

Here, MLA Managing Director, Jason Strong, shares how MLA is working to inform consumers about the health, welfare and environmental credentials of red meat and drive continued demand and consumption domestically and overseas.

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Over-the-hook cattle indicators strengthen

Slaughter

Eastern states cattle slaughter bounced back this week – albeit as a result of the reduced processor throughput for the previous week ending 11 October due to public holiday - with 151,000 head slaughtered last week, according to the National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS).

Adult slaughter was reported 12% above the same week in 2018, despite an expectation for supplies to have tightened at this stage. However, with no spring reprieve and sustained dry conditions, cattle have continued to be pulled forward in strong numbers.

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