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Good times ahead

Monday, 7th March, 2011

GOOD SIGNS: Green grass on Cymbric Vale Station is a sign of good times ahead. GOOD SIGNS: Green grass on Cymbric Vale Station is a sign of good times ahead.

Sheep, wool and beef prices set to rise 

by Gina Wilson

Along with rain and the prospect of rising prices, local pastoralists have something else they've not had in decades - certainty.

With the drought now broken and wet weather set to continue, the region's sheep and cattle growers were buoyed by this weeks' ABARE predictions of increasing prices.

The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) has forecast that agricultural commodities on the whole were positive with local interests sheep, wool and beef, all set to rise in price.

The vice-president of the Pastoralists' Association of West Darling, the body representing local growers, said they could now look to the future with certainty - something they have not been able to do for years.

"As far as being positive this is the best people have been feeling for 10 years at least," Michael Anderson said.

"You can really plan ahead with confidence and know you have a good chance of achieving your goals.

"It's a big relief more than anything."

ABARE's quarterly Australian Commodities report showed that to 2011/12 lamb prices would rise 11 per cent, wool prices would rise by 20 per cent with the beef saleyard price also to rise - by 16 per cent.

Mr Anderson said the forecast rise in wool, in particular, was welcomed.

"For wool, this is the best outlook for 20 years," he said.

"Any price rise in wool, because it's struggled so much in the last 10 years, will be well received.

"Cattle prices have been reasonable but forecast gains are well received."

ABARE said prices were being pushed up by strong export demand for meat and wool and by producers restocking after many years of drought.

While stock numbers in the western region have been very low over the past decade, with some properties having none, local growers were turning that around, Mr Anderson said.

"With the current good season people are working as hard as they can to rebuild their flocks and herd numbers and in line with that any price rise at the sale years or on the auction floor for wool will be a great help."

Meanwhile ABARE said conditions remained favourable for cotton over the next few years.

Tandou is the region's only cotton grower. This year it will strip 4,000 hectares of cotton, with the Mildura-based farmer already preparing to plant a further 6,500 hectares of cotton later this year.

Cotton has jumped 79 per cent from the 2009/10 year thanks to strong demand and low world stocks. ABARE said prices would remain relatively high but a bumper Australian crop will ease prices into 2011/12.

Tandou's chief executive officer Guy Kingwill said despite extended bad seasons, agriculture producers believed in the western area.

"We wouldn't live where we live and do what we do if we didn't believe in the average," he said.

"It's good for agriculture in the future. The big picture for agriculture is very positive."

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