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  • Rikki Lambert

Your farmgate data for the week ending 14 May 2021

While canola has had its share of the limelight in recent weeks, Australian wheat began to lift off the back of rising corn prices and concerns about the northern cropping season.

The Australian dollar rose 1 per cent this week, correcting the previous week's fall, now standing at 78 US cents.

Murray-Darling Basin water prices have continued their slow upward climb, hitting $100 for the first time since March across the Southern Basin but still well down on previous years. SA Murray prices are at that $100 level, Murrumbidgee NSW prices have started climbing but are still low at $75, NSW and Vic Murray both at $95.


Today's indicators see only modest upward movements across the last week in all prices except yearling steers, with medium steers rising the most albeit with very few traded. Nationwide Vealer Steers are performing strongest in the last week, up 1.5 per cent to 520.3c, heavy steers falling heaviest albeit only 8.6 cents to 382.4c.

National slaughter numbers continue to fall away to significant lows - especially in Victoria - compared to the previous two years, perhaps reflecting recent news that Australian domestic meat consumption is at its lowest level since the 1990s.


The processor yearling steer (469.1c, up 22.4c) and medium cow (312.5c, up 11.9c) are now marginally standing ahead of the national pricing pack thanks to those gains, while other prices are generally mid-to-low range compared with other states. Processor yearling steers rose 22.4c to 469.1c, while heavy steers fell most heavily across the categories, down 33.8c to 393.8c.

Wednesday's Warrnambool sales bounced back on last week, up 263 head to 773 traded, with very good quality compared with the mainly plain offering the previous week.

South Australia

The best medium steer prices in the nation were in SA this week, 430c (up a whopping 43.9c) just ahead of WA on 428.2c and after best riding the spike in vealer steer prices. South Australian yards are also fetching the top vealer steer price this side of the Nullarbor on 536.6c, up 48.3c. Feeder yearling steers were the biggest mover, up 97c to 459c, roaring back into the front group of the eastern seaboard prices pack.

On Wednesday Mount Gambier yardings shed the previous fortnight's steady gains, down 59 head to 551. Quality lifted this week including a much improved offering of grown steers and bullocks - but pricing results were still mixed.

The numbers at Dublin were even lower on Tuesday, down 250 head to 150 traded with extremely mixed quality amid fair to good competition in the buying group.

Naracoorte yardings picked up 323 head to 934 this week, selling to a competitive field of the usual buyers.

New South Wales

Heavy steers were the biggest price mover, up 20.9c to 397.2c, taking the best price billing in the nation this week. NSW also had the nation's best price for restocker yearling steers (574.5c, despite falling 10.9c), with southern NSW leading the charge at 585.1c, well ahead of the other districts below 490c. Southern NSW's processor yearling steer prices are the strongest at 487c.

NSW has the best eastern seaboard prices for feeder yearling steers at 460.6c (up 2.2c) and just pipped by South Australia (536.6c) top vealer steers pricing at 532.8c (up 3.5c).

Wagga Wagga moved up the rankings this week in terms of its contribution to the national EYCI, the second-largest volume traded at 1,341 head and an EYCI rating continuing to climb steeply since January, now sitting at a high of 953.81. Yardings fell over 10 per cent to 2,650 head despite the local dry conditions. A reported common trend was the lack of finished trade and heavy export stock.


Global dairy prices have begun to stagnate in the solids market, with the latest available prices showing who milk power relatively unchanged on last week at USD$4,115 per tonne and skim up 2 per cent to $3,433. Cheddar cheese fell 4 per cent and anhydrous milk fat down 5 per cent this week.


The latest MLA data from Thursday shows significant volumes traded but prices moving little yesterday and up fractionally since the last week. Over 68,000 heavy lambs were traded nationwide but nonetheless their price rose 15 cents to 785c, while restocker lambs were the only category to fall across the week, down 12 cents to 852c.

Despite a recent rally, sheep slaughter numbers (91,000 this week) are now on their annual downward trajectory into winter, still ahead of 2020 numbers (81,000) but well down on the big 144,000 pre-winter spike in 2019.


MLA warned in their Thursday report that the quality of lambs hitting the market will be an important consideration for restockers and processors to watch as cooler conditions hit Victoria in the coming months and will drive lighter carcase weights.

The best merino lamb prices continue to be on offer in Victoria, up 14c this week to 788c. Victorian mutton is also just fetching the best national price at 669c (+16c). Conversely, Victorian restocker lamb prices are the worst in the east, at 855c (down 33c this week). Nonetheless, MLA reported an overall positive sales week in Victoria, as follows:

At Bendigo on Monday, Merinos dominated the lamb yarding, accounting for 25% of the offering, or 3,295 head. Processors continue to value lighter Merino carcase weights comparative to the crossbred offering, with the price of these lifting 30¢ week-on-week to average 775¢/kg carcase weight (cwt), or $188/head. Merino lambs averaged 23kg cwt, which ensured competition remained strong for processors and restockers, with both keen on purchasing lighter animals.
For the Tuesday CVLX sale at Ballarat, feeders were highly sought after, lifting 40¢ week-on-week to average 914¢/kg cwt, an increase of 4.6%. Cooler temperatures are leading to greater turn-off in Ballarat, while cheap grain and a strong medium-term market outlook are encouraging feeders, driving competition and lifting the price week-on-week.
Processors were the key buyers at Horsham on Wednesday, accounting for 49% of the yarding, or 4,481 head. These lambs averaged 25.7kg at 797¢/kg cwt, or $206/head. The increase of 1,638 head week-on-week in this category did not deter buyers, as processors continue to value quality stock in the heavy trade weight category. The restocker lamb portion of the yarding declined by 83¢ week-on-week to average 749¢/kg cwt, or $130/head. Cooler temperatures were the catalyst to easing prices and subdued competition, as producers considered how these would affect lamb growth.

Horsham's 22.1-22.4kg lamb indicator price has begun to rise from mid-March lows, now standing at a healthy 820.9c., whereas Bendigo's indicator price has just climbed up above Horsham to 832.1c.

Western Victorian prices remain well ahead of central west Victorian prices in all categories, with no data reported from the Gippsland region.

On Thursday, Swan Hill traded 5700 head (up 300) this week with mixed quality, ranging from some exceptionally heavy crossbreds down to light pens of Dorpers. Swan Hill's 22.1-22.4kg lamb indicator price sits below Bendigo and Horsham, at 777.8c.

South Australia

Trade lambs (746c) and merino lambs (718c) are among the lowest prices nationwide at the moment, while restocker lamb prices fell away a heavy 130c loss - after last week's top ranking - to 863c, now the second-worst in the east. The early positive signs for light lambs last week took off this week, the price rising 67 cents to 837c.

On Tuesday Naracoorte shed their gains in yarding numbers - and then some - dropping 3,782 head to 6,168. Quality was very mixed although lambs sold at improved rates.

Also on Tuesday the SA Livestock Exchange had a similar fall on the previous week's trade, down 4,500 head to 9,500 with merino lambs a big percentage of the market, likely contributing to their poor national price ranking. The Livestock Exchange's 22.1-22.4kg lamb indicator price continues to track downwards from a 23 February high, now standing at 698.1c.

New South Wales

Restocker lamb prices (908c) are the best price on the Australian mainland (despite falling 10 cents this week), with Tasmania just ahead in the nation on 911c.

NSW led the national slaughter numbers, down slightly but still at 37,865 head.

Southern NSW boasts the best restocker lamb prices at 920, light lamb prices at 834c, merino lamb prices at 754c and mutton (671c).

There was a stampede back to the Wagga Wagga saleyards continued this week, Thursday's trade jumping 9,500 head to 45,000 on the back of an expectation of better prices. However, quality was mixed, the field of buyers smaller and feedlot and restocker competition operating selectively. Wagga's 22.1-22.4kg lamb indicator price is slipping away slowly from highs in mid-February, now standing at 781.9c.

On Monday Corowa yarded 1,070 fewer sheep to 12,910, with all weights and grades on offer. Quality was plainer this week but the market remained firm, reportedly $10 dearer in places. The Corowa 22.1-22.4kg lamb indicator price has hovered in the 815c region now for a couple of months.


AWI reports on Friday that the Eastern Market Indicator fell 0.99 per cent to 1,306 ac/Kg. This comes on top of earlier falls in Eastern and Western Market Indicators fell, 2 and 1 per cent respectively, to 1,319c/kg clean on Thursday in the east and 1,355 in the west. The Southern region auction sales reported a fall in the latest indicator to 1,271 from 1,292 the week before.

AWI reports:

Australian wool auctions prices faltered at points throughout this week, but held on remarkably well despite some potentially negative influences. Whilst it is never good to see any loss in wool values, many trade participants from both sides had commentary centred on the resilience of the price amidst the seemingly tougher demand scenarios currently at play.

As recently observed in the farmgate report, despite tariffs on Australian wine, barley and coal, Chinese demand for Australian wool (and iron ore) remains strong, as AWI reports this week:

In a week that saw wool prices defying expectations again, it was Chinese interests that continued to provide demand. Chinese top makers, processors and traders were all active. Limited competition came from Italy for the few better superfine clips and some stronger European top maker purchasing was evident. Small pockets of Indian buying was also observed.

Nationwide prices now stand at roughly where they were when the COVID-19 pandemic began, still much lower than the prices above 1,800 seen at the same time in 2019.

The NSW DPI reports that on the latest data wool was down 1.3 per cent with a nearly doubled pass-in rate.

Elders' latest report confirms that every sector recorded losses with 5.3 per cent of the last offering withdrawn prior to sale, and 47,558 bales on sale, barely more than the previous week.


National pig slaughter numbers have reached nationwide highs compared to 2019 and 2021, with Victoria and South Australia up while New South Wales numbers are only marginally higher at this time than previous years.

ABARES reports that the latest available data shows pigs fetching 1 per cent lower prices at $353 per kilogram cwt.

Grains and Oilseeds

Canola continues to be the rockstar in the pricing data for cropping farms across the Flow Family, but wheat and barley prices also turned around in a more positive direction this week.


AWB reported on Tuesday a fascinating data set with rising ethanol production spiking corn prices and bringing wheat demand onto the feed table :

The last month has seen an extraordinary run across all major global agricultural commodities with severe weather concerns and strong demand dominating the headlines.
A rising tide lifts all boats, and as such, wheat markets have managed to climb 130USc/bu or $60 AUD/t in the space of a month. With corn rallying on the Safrinha weather, it has created a feed hole which should see more wheat added to the feed ration.

Domestic milling and feed wheat prices continue their steady upward climb, up 2 per cent each to $383 and $381 per tonne respectively at Port Adelaide. ABARES' comparison world indicator turned around this week, also up 2 per cent after recent falls to USD$313 per tonne. The NSW DPI reports that surging corn prices are expected to support demand for Australian wheat.

GrainCentral reported on Thursday that there's some logistical calculations to be made by the sector going forward:

The wheat bids have started to scramble for spot loads for next week as the logistical nightmare continues. System grain continues to leak out across the country on wheat and barley, with the unknown factor being how much grain remains on -farm. With a late break through parts of South Australia and Victoria, and limited precipitation on the outlook for central and southern New South Wales, we may start to see this supply tighten and stocks remain on farm.


Feed barley prices slowed down after last week's bigger gains, up 3 per cent to $316 per tonne. NSW DPI reports that barley prices remain well supported due to significant Saudi, Thai and Japanese demand. These help to offset the loss of the Chinese market due to punitive tariffs.


ABARES reports that the world indicator price for canola (Rapeseed, Canada fob Vancouver) jumped a huge 18 per cent to US$705/tonne, now almost double what it was a year ago.

This is due in no small part to Canada's poor season meaning for a moment it had to switch from net exporter to importer of canola, according to AWB on Tuesday. Canada reached out to the Ukraine to fill its domestic hunger recently.

GrainCentral reported on Thursday that Australian canola is on a good run:

Local new-crop canola rebounded from its prior down day to be back up AU$10-$15/t. We continue to see that strength flow into markets today, with more gains through the offshore boards on Winnipeg and MATIF contracts of up to AU$20-25/t on the Nov contracts.

The NSW DPI reports that Western Australia planted a record 1.492m hectares for their winter crop.


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