Outlook still positive

June 28, 2017

ABARES says higher global demand should see world dairy prices improve in 2017-18.

The value of agriculture has hit a new high but it’s not likely to last for long, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences Agricultural Commodities Report.

The report, released last week, said the gross value of agricultural production was estimated to increase by 8.1 per cent in 2016-17 to a ‘‘record-breaking return’’ of $62.8billion.

The significant jump was put down to record winter crop production, particularly for wheat and barley, and ongoing high prices for livestock and livestock products.

The forecast for the 2017-18 season is that production will fall by 4.6 per cent on 2016-17 figures, but will still be well above the five-year average.

‘‘Despite the forecast decline, the outlook for this year is positive, up almost $5billion compared with the five-year average,’’ ABARES acting executive director Peter Gooday said.

The value of farm exports is estimated to reach $48billion in 2016-17, a figure that is likely to remain relatively unchanged in 2017-18.

‘‘In Australian dollar terms, export prices of wool, wine, lamb, barley, cheese and mutton are forecast to increase in 2017-18,’’ Mr Gooday said.

‘‘Export prices for beef and veal, sugar, canola, live feeder/slaughter cattle, chickpeas and rock lobster are forecast to fall, with export prices for wheat and cotton forecast to remain relatively unchanged.’’

The report also said world dairy prices were expected to be higher in 2017-18 due to greater global demand, with butter increasing the most, by 13.5 per cent, followed by whole milk powder (11.3 per cent), cheese (10.7 per cent) and skim milk powder (6.5 per cent).

The increases in butter and whole milk powder were revised from the last commodities report in March, due to adverse weather conditions reducing expected production in New Zealand, the world’s largest exporter of those commodities.

With favourable input prices and improved milk prices, the report also expected Australian milk production to rise by four per cent to 9.25billion litres in 2017-18.

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