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The Value Of Beef

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

25 JUNE 2008 - Today's farming environment may be throwing up challenges for New Zealand's beef farmers, but it's not all doom and gloom.

The long-term future of the beef industry looks very positive for New Zealand pasture-fed beef according to Meat & Wool New Zealand Economic Service.

Predictions remain that the US, New Zealand's biggest beef market, will continue to demand beef at its current record high level, fuelled by a domestic policy that has caused an ethanol boom and subsequent food price inflation.

There are also positive implications in New Zealand's Free Trade Agreement with China, which is now importing a growing amount of our beef.

The world price of food rose 10 per cent in 2006, driven mainly by surging prices of corn, wheat and soybean oil and New Zealand Shorthorn Association president Judy Austin believes this will have a positive long-term effect on beef demand, which is good news for New Zealand farmers.

Bull sales were up at the recent New Zealand Beef Expo, and Mrs Austin said that demonstrates confidence in the future of the industry.

Mrs Austin said these results suggest farmers are looking beyond the current downturn. "Despite the current environment, it's clear farmers are still investing, with an eye to positioning themselves with the type of stock that will be able to deliver when farmers need it most.

Interest in Shorthorn cattle was keen in the recent national sales. The Shorthorn sale netted $79,000, around $7000 up on last year, a very credible feat given low returns across the sheep and beef industries over the last year. The top Shorthorn bull Austin Legacy, owned by the Austin family, reaching a very pleasing $18,000, with the average price $6583. She puts the renewed interest in the Shorthorn breed down to the benefits of cross-breeding, and the breed's overall versatility. New Zealand cattle farmers are exploiting the Shorthorn's hybrid vigour, in a cross bred either with Angus, or a three way cross with Angus/Hereford.

"The beauty of this is that the hybrid vigour, combined with the breed's natural ability to grow out well, produce good slaughter weights at 18 months, something we now know from our survey that farmers appreciate."

The boost in Beef Expo sales backs up results from a survey conducted by the New Zealand Shorthorn Association, which showed Shorthorn are specifically adding profitability to cattle farmers by their early maturing and good growth rates. Feedback suggests they are easy to fatten, there is good calf survivability and the breed are very good at cleaning up pasture.

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