Australian bushfires could hit global meat and sheep market


Jonathan Riley, Farmers Weekly (UK)  

09 January 2020


Australia’s wildfire crisis will hit global dairy and sheepmeat markets, according to analysis produced by the AHDB and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).


With the scale and tragedy of the crisis still unfolding, the MLA has made an initial assessment of likely losses in the worst-hit areas.


An MLA spokesman urged caution with any forecast because the extent of the full impact to livestock was “unknown and would take time to understand”.


However, he said: “We do know that there are close to 80,000 farm property identification codes in the main affected regions.


“Our latest information is that 9% of the national cattle herd live in regions that have been significantly impacted and a further 11% in regions partially impacted.”


The spokesman added: “For sheep, 13% of the national flock live in regions that have been significantly impacted and a further 17% in regions partially impacted.”


AHDB analyst Kat Jack said areas with significant fires could have supported more than 10 million cattle and sheep, although that is not to say this many animals have been lost.


Ms Jack added that pasture and forage stored on farms had also been lost during the fires, leaving farmers with limited feed alternatives.


“The Australian dairy industry has been struggling for some time with an extended drought, which has driven declines in dairy production across this season and last.


“The multi-year drought and tight feed supplies pushing up costs have pushed down the national herd size and production.”


Production volumes in decline ...