Beef prices are set to skyrocket in coming months as the drought, and now floods, continue to squeeze domestic markets.
They say when it rains it pours, and for many eastern seaboard farmers the irony of that statement has become devastatingly real.
While the rest of us continue to toil through the worst drought in history, our neighbours in north Queensland have been thrown out of the frying pan and into the fire, with huge swathes of land going underwater last week.
Tamworth Association of Agents president Chris Paterson said the latest news was that at least 300,000 head of cattle had been lost in the flood, with the impact of that loss certain to hit local markets in coming months.
“It has been shocking – to come out of this drought and into a flood that severe is heartbreaking for those north Queensland producers,” he said.
“With the numbers around locally it won’t do much to the market at the moment, but it will in the future.
“When the drought breaks beef is going to get dearer and dearer as farmers look to restock against the abattoirs who won’t be able to source as much stock.”
On Monday another “sharp increase” saw 3500 cattle go to market in Tamworth, including some herd dispersals as local producers continue to offload core stock.
“Farmers just won’t carry numbers through winter because of the dry – it is just not economical to feed anymore,” Mr Paterson said.
“The market is just holding together, although numbers are way down – we only have 30-40 per cent of the local cattle numbers that we would normally have.”
Gunnedah is also recording a similar trend, with almost 4000 cattle set to go under the hammer on Tuesday according to local Landmark agent Scott Cooper.
Meanwhile lamb and sheep prices have remained reasonably strong, with top lambs attracting around $210 on Monday afternoon.
“Sheep has been the shining light – the market has been pretty good,” Mr Paterson said.
“There is not as many good fat lambs, although anyone who can afford the feed, or who have got some of the rain, are getting good prices.”