CQ cattle baron Graeme Acton says an oversupply of cattle has sent the entire beef industry into dire straits.
CQ cattle baron Graeme Acton says an oversupply of cattle has sent the entire beef industry into dire straits. Sharyn O'Neill

Beef industry in dire straits - CQ cattle baron Graeme Acton

SEVERE drought in Western Queensland and a serious oversupply of cattle have thrown the entire beef industry into dire straits, which could be as bad as, if not worse than, the beef depression of the 1970s, according to CQ cattle baron Graeme Acton.

There is a cattle industry summit in Richmond today to address the huge drop in prices brought on by oversupply caused by the ban of live cattle exports to Indonesia and the drought, and the repercussions are being felt throughout the country, Mr Acton said.

He owns two properties in Western Queensland - Millungera Station, north of Julia Creek and Barkley Downs Station, west of Mt Isa.

"We've been very fortunate out there because we had good rain before Christmas and... we've got enough feed to take us through until the storms come through next year," he said.

"We're not in as serious a position as some. It is in very dire straits in North Western Australia because of the banning of live exports by the Federal Agriculture Minister.

"It's one of the great disasters that this has happened and it's got ramifications all over Australia. It's terrible a lot of people are going to go broke through no fault of their own.

"The relationship (with Indonesia) has been damaged and the permits to export are about a third of what they were before, less than a third."

He said this combined with the drought and the high Australian dollar had pushed prices down to figures he hadn't seen since the 1970s, and it was happening in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

"We need the federal government to react immediately to bring about some relief for cattle producers all over Australia, but particularly in areas that can only export to Indonesia," he said.

David Francis from RF Duncan and Co said prices at CQLX had dropped considerably in the last three months.
"Prime cattle have dropped off by possibly 30% in value and weaner cattle both steers and heifers have come back by at least 25%," he said.

"There are so many cattle coming on the market and just putting pressure on prices.

"We are getting some here from places like Richmond and Julia Creek but only a small amount. They're trying to put their cattle where the grass is.

"Longreach had a pretty difficult sale last week... they're having difficulty selling the very poor cattle."