Hope for a good season

24 Apr, 2015 02:00 AM

THINGS are looking up for northern pastoralists after recent rains have combined with high cattle prices and boosted Indonesian export quotas.

South East Asian Livestock Services (SEALS) manager Dean Ryan, Minnie Creek station, said 2015 is looking to be a good season for cattle producers.

"At the moment in the pastoral industry, things are looking positive," Mr Ryan said.

"Prices are at historic highs, especially in WA, they are higher than the Eastern States and have been for a while.

"Seasonally, except for the Pilbara, all the North West is looking good.

"In my opinion, it hasn't looked this good for a long time."

Rainfall in the Gascoyne and Kimberly has given pastoralists a confidence boost.

"We are very happy with what we got in terms of rainfall," Mr Ryan said.

"We are enjoying the greenery for the first time in a long time.

"The Kimberley is full swing into mustering, but I think the Pilbara may slow down because of the front coming in.

"It will be nice for those guys to get some rainfall – I think it's their turn."

Mark Bettini, De Grey station, Port Hedland, is one of the stations waiting for the forecasted rain to come over the Pilbara region.

"The rain looks like it's coming, and it's just in time," Mr Bettini said.

"We would be mustering if it had rained earlier.

"We had an inch in the past few days, but apart from that it has been patchy.

"There is some green around, so the rain will kick it along.

"After this front comes through we will have to wait to muster, because De Grey is very flat we don't get a lot of water run off.

"It makes it difficult – but the rain will be timely."

Further north, it has been a busy start for WA pastoralist Haydn Sale, who runs Yougawalla Pastoral Company's Bulka and Margaret River stations.

"It's been a handy wet season," he said.

"It was wet early in December and January. Not much in February, but we had a little bit of rain in March which has tapered off.

"It has worked out okay."

Mr Sale said he is mustering 1000 feeder bulls and 600 females at Margaret River station and one of its leased properties to send to Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia.

"There is plenty of demand for cattle and the prices are good," Mr Sale said.

"We can't complain."

The Indonesian government has approved cattle imports of 250,000 head over the next three months, a big boost from the first quarter of 130,000 head, and he said it has a solid price.

"If it had been a low quota, it would have seen a big drop in the price," Mr Sale said.

"Prices have always dropped between May and August as the big supply surge comes on, but I think it will remain pretty strong this year."

Mr Ryan said the industry should seize the opportunity of the expanded live export quota.

"The 250,000 cattle to be delivered into Indonesia, if shipping is available, is great news," he said.

"It couldn't come at a better time for northern pastoralists.

"Anyone who sits and waits for the next quarter is a little optimistic.

"When the opportunity is there it should be seized upon, because we don't know what will happen."

Mr Ryan said the industry has been lobbying the Department of Trade and Agriculture in Jakarta to work with it and Indonesians authorities to issue permits on a yearly basis, so it could can plan ahead.

"It is almost impossible for the production sector and shipping sector to plan on a three monthly basis," he said.

"You lose two weeks at the start and end of the quarter, where timing is so critical to meet the deadlines.

"Industry is trying to push for Indonesia to have a bit more planning liaison on both sides so we have more certainty in the trade for importer, exporters, ship owners and producers."



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