• Rikki Lambert

Your farmgate data for the week ending 9 April 2021

FlowNews24 collates farmgate data from various commodities each week to share on flownews24.com.au and on the FlowFM Morning Show from 11am on Fridays.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published a comprehensive bulletin recently and AAP reports, there's generally good news for food producers across the globe:

World food prices rose for a 10th consecutive month in March, hitting their highest level since June 2014, led by jumps in vegetable oils, meat and dairy indices, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.
The Food and Agriculture Organization's food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 118.5 points last month versus a slightly revised 116.1 in February.
The February figure was previously given as 116.0.
The Rome-based FAO also said in a statement that worldwide cereal harvests remained on course to hit an annual record in 2020, adding that early indications pointed to a further increase in production this year.
FAO's cereal price index fell 1.7% month on month in March, ending eight months of consecutive gains, but still 26.5% higher than the same period last month.
Among major cereals, wheat export prices dropped the most, declining 2.4% on the month, reflecting good supplies and encouraging production prospects for the 2021 crops, FAO said.
FAO's vegetable oil price index surged 8.0% on the month to reach its highest level since June 2011, lifted by higher prices for palm, soy, rape and sunflower oils.
Dairy prices rose for a 10th month running, registering a 3.9% increase. FAO said one of the drivers in the sector was milk powder, which was boosted by a surge in imports in Asia, especially China, due to concerns over short-term supplies.
The meat index climbed 2.3%, but unlike all the other indices, it was still slightly down on a year-on-year basis. FAO said poultry and pig meat quotations increased, underpinned by a fast pace of imports by Asian countries, mainly China.
Sugar prices dropped 4.0% month on month, but was still up 30% on the year. March's decline was fuelled by prospects of large exports from India, FAO said.
FAO raised its forecast for the 2020 cereal season to 2.765 billion tonnes from a previous estimate of 2.761 billion, pointing to a 2.0% increase year on year.
Looking ahead, FAO said it expected global cereal production to increase for a third consecutive year in 2021.
Global wheat production was seen hitting a new high of 785 million tonnes this year, up 1.4% from 2020 levels, driven by an anticipated sharp rebound across most of Europe and expectations of a record harvest in India, FAO said.
Above-average outputs were also expected for maize, with a record harvest forecast for Brazil and a multi-year high predicted for South Africa.
For the current 2020/21 marketing season, global cereal utilisation was forecast at 2.777 billion tonnes, 2.4% up on the previous year, driven largely by higher estimates of feed use of wheat and barley in China, where the livestock sector is recovering from African swine fever.


At the time of writing, the latest available data from Australian Wool Innovation indicated that wool auction prices were 1 per cent higher in the reporting week, particularly in the super fine Merino type 18.5 micron and finer categories.

The Eastern Market Indicator closed week 40 at 1300ac clean/kg, a 15ac gain.

The latest Elders Wool report from before Easter described the mood as a happy one:

"Exporters have mostly weathered the shipping storm, for now. Hopefully the recess will allow the dumping facilities and shipping lines to clear some of the backlog and re-establish some of their normal efficiency. The market appears to have almost reset as it was earlier in the year with superfine types gaining the most attention, medium merino wandering along in an upward direction, and a few crossbred orders keeping that sector moving along as well. Overall the market closed 15 cents higher (12 US cents and 19 Euro cents higher) and everyone around the globe is very comfortable with that outcome. South Africa has already closed for their Easter recess, and in South American growers have pretty much sold everything they harvested by now, except those who intend to store it until the rules or the government changes again.
"Those growers in the Northern Hemisphere are only just beginning to see some sunny days and allow their sheep out of the sheds after a rather long cold winter, so for them shearing is still a couple of months away yet.
"So as usual in April, Australia is the only source of fresh merino wool, and with India stepping up to the crease to provide an alternative market it will be difficult to see much downside to the current price level in the coming two months."


MLA noted on Thursday that the cattle slaughter numbers are on track to hit a 20-year low this year:

"If the first quarter of the year is anything to go by, 2021 is on track to see a historically low slaughter record. The NLRS eastern states report has slaughter at 1,206,404 head for the March quarter, the lowest in over 20 years.
"Continued rainfall and an abundance of feed in many cattle producing regions has ensured tightening domestic supply of finished cattle."

There was no Eastern Young Cattle Indicator data to compare this week as many yards took a spell due to Easter. The latest indicator stands at 876.65c, up 14c on 4 weeks ago.


Thursday's MLA national indicators showed Victorian feeder yearling steer prices were the poorest in the available reporting states at 436.1c/kg, while medium cows (296.2c) were second only to WA prices (298.6c) in the reporting states.

On Wednesday the yardings at Warrnambool fell further to 788 year, down 126, with quality reported to be mainly plain to average.


South Australia's cattle prices are significantly below prices available for other states, except for medium steers which are the nation's second-highest at 402.2c, compared with NSW on 420.4c.

On Wednesday, Mount Gambier yardings rose 10% but were still low at 551 head, while on Tuesday, Naracoorte's yardings remained very low at 261 head, down 92.


New South Wales is enjoying strong cattle prices across the board, leading the nation in vealer steers (526.1c), processor yearling steers (467.3c), medium steers (420.4c) and heavy steers (384.4c).

Southern NSW prices only lead the districts in medium cows (304.8c) but are the lowest or second-lowest compared with the northern, central-west and Hunter districts.


MLA reports that an influx of high-quality heavy lambs is driving down prices, falling 17c this week.

On Thursday, MLA reported that some farmers are left with little choice but to yard the lambs:

"Rainfall across key supply areas over the past fortnight has not eased heavy lamb yardings, as the seasonal conditions and approaching winter cropping program force producers to turn off lambs before planting begins.
"As producers with mixed farming operations continue to focus on their cropping programs, expect yardings to continue to lift in the short-term to ensure most lambs are turned off before the planting season begins. Lamb yarding volumes may then return to average seasonal numbers into the Autumn period."

Western Australian sheep prices are generally much poorer than the five other states - for instance, light lambs at 718c compared with the next lowest, 882c in SA - so are excluded from references in comparing prices between states.


Victoria has the highest available merino lamb prices at 821c, and the second highest heavy lamb price at 808c, with NSW slightly ahead on 813c.

On Wednesday, Horsham traded 1,831 more sheep, up to 11,931 compared with a fortnight ago.


South Australian restocker lamb prices (1,025c) are the highest in the nation but otherwise, prices are in the low-to-mid-range compared with other reporting states.

On Tuesday, Naracoorte numbers remained steady at 5,050 with 4,573 lambs and 477 sheep yarded, with a greater volume of lambs compared with a week earlier.

However, also on Tuesday, trade at Dublin's SA Livestock Exchange halved compared to a week earlier, attributed to the Easter break while quality was rated as fair to good.

On Wednesday, Mount Gambier traded slightly more sheep, but still trading in small numbers yarded overall at 2,509.


Heavy lamb prices for New South Wales are the best in the nation at 813c, while restocker lamb prices (1,022c) are just behind SA (1,025c) as the second-highest in the nation.

Southern NSW sheep prices are generally the highest compared with northern or central-west regions, particularly in light lambs (956c, compared with northern 837c and central west 813c).

Wagga Wagga yardings rose slightly on Thursday by 1,000 (compared with a fortnight earlier) due to 3,500 more sheep coming in but 2,500 less lambs. MLA reports:

"Numbers lifted after the Easter holiday break. Trade weight lambs 21kg to 24kg cwt were well supplied and quality was fair with longer wool types dragging prices back. Heavy and extra heavy lamb categories presented with plenty of finish, most grain assisted. A full field of export buyers were in attendance and all were operating. Domestic buyer competition often faded throughout the market causing prices to fluctuate. Local restockers were operating along with a bigger group of feedlot buyers


AWB reports that wheat prices were down 0.7 per cent to $293 per tonne (H2), easing due to thinner trading.

Barley was also down 0.9 per cent to $223 per tonne for feed grade, losing momentum as the northern hemisphere harvest approaches, bringing cheap European barley into competition.

In South Australia, Collette Wheadon reports for AWB:

"The past two months have seen the ports a hive of activity and domestic consumers back in the market, with grain moving rapidly by road and rail into these customers and ports. The extra road freight requirement of South Australian ports combined with an above average grape harvest has meant that road freight quickly disappeared, leading to delays in deliveries for both the trade and growers.
"... increased risks and costs to exports have had an effect on grain prices and as a result we have seen Port Adelaide wheat and barley values fall $20/mt through March to currently sit around $285 port for APW and $228 for BAR1. These local freight hurdles have however created the opportunities for prompt premiums into delivered homes for those able to provide their own transport. This demand for on farm grain creating opportunistic rallies of up to $20- $30/mt for SFW, with bids up to $320- $330 delivered into the Adelaide zone.


Water prices in the Southern Murray-Darling Basin continue to fall, approaching 4-year lows with almost 91 gigalitres traded in the most recently reported trading week, and prices down to $75 a megalitre.