• Rikki Lambert

Your farmgate data for 26 March - 1 April

A 1 per cent fall in the Australian dollar, albeit up 25 per cent on a year ago, has boosted farm exports, particularly in wool, which was one of the only prices to rise on the previous week compared to wheat, corn, canola, cotton and sugar which all fell slightly.

Wheat

AWB reports that recent rains will put a spring in the step of wheat farmers:

"A week can be a long time in grain markets and the week just passed was no exception. With over eight inches of soaking rain received in parts of Southern and Central New South Wales cropping belts since Thursday last week, agriculturalists will look back fondly.
"With year to date totals now comfortably exceeding total rainfall received in most parts for the 2018 and 2019 cropping season, the stage is once again set for another thumping East Coast crop."

Cattle

Eastern Young Cattle Indicator fell to 877.5c on Thursday from 883.5c on Wednesday.

Vealers are holding at higher prices, with Vealer heifers rising yet again, up 84.49c this week. but vealer steers slipped in recent days from a Tuesday high of 985.75c down to 948.5c. MLA has warned the EYCI may fluctuate due to higher rainfall and lower yardings.

Vealer steer (508.3c), Processor Yearling steers (448.8c), Medium steers (406.8c) and heavy steers (383.8c) were the categories to rise slightly this week, with all other categories falling slightly.

Total cattle yardings fell from 28,491 nationwide by 7,000 to 21,546. Queensland yardings overtook Wagga Wagga's second placing last week, with strong activity at Gracemere, Roma and Dalby. MLA noted last Thursday's nationwide cattle yardings are down 31.2 per cent for the week, due to the logistical issues caused by recent record rainfall in eastern Australia, so this week's further 32 per cent fall highlights that those issues are persisting.

Cattle slaughter numbers remain well down on previous years at 55,141 head overall in the week ending 26 March

Victoria

Victorian prices shot up this week across the board, particularly in vealer steers (491.8c, +51.4c) and medium steers (45.42, +65.9c). Prices now stand at 20-30 per cent better than the same time last year across the board.

Victoria also has the nation’s best current medium cow prices, at 291c compared with 289.2c in NSW.

South Australia

Medium steer prices jumped more than 10 per cent this week, up 45.4c to 412.4c, placing them 82.4c up overall on the same time last year.

New South Wales

Wagga Wagga was again high in the cattle saleyard rankings, contributing 14 per cent overall. Monday’s weekly numbers were nonetheless down 400 head on the week before, a little surprising with the looming Easter break.

NSW tops the vealer steer prices in the east, at 509.8c, beaten only in the west by WA on 522.6c. Southern NSW’s restocker yearling steer prices continue to sit well above other NSW districts at 583c, while feeder yearling steers and medium cows in southern NSW are also best priced at 476.8c and 308.3c respectively.

Sheep

Sheep prices remain fairly steady with minor movements across the week, with restocker lambs standing at 917c (+16c on the week before), mutton 677c (+32c) and merino lambs 773c (+9c) the positive movers across the week.

Sheep slaughter numbers continue to fall, but are at similar levels to 2020 compared with far higher rates at the same time in 2019.

Total yardings were 166,582 head, with Ballarat (38,162) and Bendigo (21,000) leading the sales activity.

Victoria

Victoria’s mutton prices are the best in the nation at 700c, with NSW the next best at 672c.

South Australia

SA’s restocker lamb prices picked up from last week, up 49c to 971c, while mutton lifted 33c to 642c.

SA Livestock Exchange numbers jumped by a third, 3,000 head to a total 9,000 yarded. MLA reports that quality was fair to average. However, a sizeable draft of Dorper and Dorper cross lambs were yarded from the north east pastoral area, mostly 2 score ewe lambs, meeting solid restocker competition.

Naracoorte sales fell significantly by 1,950 to 4,956 compared with a week ago. MLA states:

Quality was mixed from store lambs lacking condition up to large heavy weight lambs coming off irrigation and feed with the pricing starting brightly before fading to end up with slightly cheaper rates of $3 to $5/head than the week before.

New South Wales

NSW has the best restocker lamb prices at 998c.

Corowa yardings spiked, more than doubling – up 7,270 to 15,070 comprising an increase in lambs, with a fall in sheep yarded. MLA reports larger yardings occurred due to this being the final sale before the Easter break, with mixed quality and despite a full buying consortium, prices were still $15 lower than the strong market last week.

Wool

Elders reports that the Australian wool market was assisted by a lower Australian dollar in the recent week, with prices rising about 8 cents:

In local currency terms the Fine and Superfine merino fleece shrugged off the negative trend of the past couple of weeks and rose by 30 cents or so. Medium merino fleece increases were less enthusiastic, but still finished in positive territory. Skirtings without too much fault followed a similar path and rose by up to 20 cents, but those lines containing jowls and shanks were largely ignored by the finicky trade. Crossbreds did not move a lot but maintained a positive tone, and the carding wools generally rose perhaps indicating a late season run for these wools is in the offing.

Elders also noted the Suez Canal crisis reported by FlowNews24 early when the Ever Green vessel wedged in the Canal was playing havoc with the market:

Europe is clearly the missing link at present, for normally at this time of year Chinese topmakers and spinners would be selling and shipping container loads of product in their direction.
It is exceedingly difficult to find space on a vessel heading to Europe, and assuming the Suez Canal will be unblocked soon, the cost of that freight is currently 3 times more expensive than it was 6 months ago.
So, until Europe gets their collective act together, stops arguing about who is not sharing enough doses of vaccine and actually start to jab their population so that businesses can get back to work, the market will continue to miss this important link.

Elders also projects happy days ahead for wool sellers in the higher end of the range:

A 850- 1050 cents premium for the 17 to the 21MPG price difference has been near the upper range since the modern merino market developed in the early 1980s. This premium reached 900 cents in early 2021 and has since eased slightly. Given the rainfall in NSW the supply of fine merino wool will not increase in 2021 which will help maintain high premiums.

Pigs

Pig slaughter numbers are slightly up on previous years, at 92,188 for the week ending 26 March.

ABARES reports that at last count, eastern seaboard pig prices were down on 2020 prices at just under 350c in the 60-75kg range, as an average of buyers and sellers, but still better than 2019 prices.