AN Agriculture Department report has supported a widespread theory among WA livestock producers of a

15 Nov, 2006 08:45 PM

Of all the major meat markets studied by Mr Burggraf, WA was consistently behind national average prices in nearly all sectors.

Trade steer prices in WA were as much as 31pc below national averages and export lamb prices were 16pc lower during the study period.

In the lucrative heavyweight prime lamb market, prices reached a record high in 2004.

According to the report, the national price reached 498c/kg while WA¹s highest price was 422c/kg during the same period.

Specifications for meeting the export lamb grade were no different between east and west.

The past five years have seen most areas of the eastern seaboard experience exceptionally dry conditions.

Eastern states livestock flocks have consequently declined due to the drought conditions.

Mr Burggraf said the flock decline in the eastern states could have partly driven the higher prices due to limited stock and meat supplier competition.

But some industry members had suggested a lack of export processing capacity in WA had attributed to low prices in the west, he said.

WAFarmers meat section president Mike Norton believed the only real competition in the WA cattle market was between processors trying to set the lowest over-the-hook schedule for cattle.

³What the processors need to stop and think about is their direct consignment schedules are now getting so low, the opportunity to bring several large ships in for live shipment is a real possibility,² Mr Norton said.

He warned of producers walking away from domestic processors to take advantage of the live shipping trade.

Opening rains in Queensland and northern NSW last week were a good sign for the sum-mer rain period on the east coast.

With follow-up rains, graziers will be looking for re-stocker cattle in large numbers because their own herds have been offloaded over the drought period.

The situation could provide another opportunity for WA beef producers to export cattle to the east coast of Australia and take advantage of market opportunities and help retain the domestic herd.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association meat section president Tim D¹Arcy said WA needed to look at marketing its red meat better.

Mr D¹Arcy admitted the sea-sonal conditions did affect supply and quality of meat in WA, which in turn affected abattoir operations.

But he said a price incentive would encourage more produ-cers to feedlot stock and pro-vide consistency throughout the whole year.

³With the reduced prices and high cost of grain at the mom-ent, you can¹t expect producers to carry the extra cost through-out the whole year,² Mr D¹Arcy said.

³I find it difficult to under-stand why we can¹t market our meat so it competes with the eastern states.

³I think it is imperative that the processors lift their game and compete with the eastern states.²



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