AUSTRALIA's largest livestock exporter Wellard Rural Exports has released its 2010 minimum price forward contracts for live export wethers and rams, which guarantee a minimum price for export sheep to February 2011.
The minimum price contracts allow farmers to choose between the forward price and the spot price at delivery, whichever is higher.
"The contracts placed a substantial floor in the live export market last year as well as providing farmers with price and market certainty," Wellard Middle East livestock manager Garry Robinson said.
"Farmers can insure themselves against price falls and capitalise on price rises.
"It gives sheep producers the ability to run sheep in the full knowledge they have a guaranteed minimum price and guaranteed market when they are ready to sell."
The "workability" of two to three year rolling forward contracts suggested earlier this year by Wellards is still being investigated.
"We're still considering that part of it, we'll just see what the uptake is this year with what we've offered at the moment," Mr Robinson said.
"Last year we had a 12-month period then we rolled on straight after that with a different set of circumstances consistent with where the market was going.
"With our current contracts we'll review after January where they are with that then we can potentially offer ones from the end of February onwards."
Wellard extended its forward contracts out to February 2011 to ensure farmers could lock in price and market certainty over the summer months.
Mr Robinson said the 2010 forward contract prices were higher than last year's rates, reflecting supply and demand and Wellard's desire to provide clear price signals to encourage producers to produce the quality sheep desired by Middle Eastern importers.
The contracts are weighted towards heavier sheep which remain the overwhelming preference of international customers.
Mr Robinson said sheep farmers should work with their agent or Wellard buyer to establish which category of minimum price contract would suit their production systems.
"Based on the current market prices, the forward contract prices offered by Wellard are extremely competitive and we believe it is a great option for producers to focus their sheep production on," he said.