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The impact of Australian wildfires on the cattle industry

The combination of widespread and prolonged drought and wildfires in Australia is forcing cattle liquidation and pushing total cattle numbers in that country to 30-year lows. 

Oklahoma State University ag economist Derrell Peel says their ability to maintain production and export levels will be compromised for several years.  “The USDA’s latest projections for global beef markets for major exporting countries forecast for 2020 the US to export more beef than Australia – I think – for the first time ever,” he says. 

He tells Brownfield with the shortage in beef coming out of Australia, and China becoming the major driver in global beef markets, there are increasing opportunities for the US beef sector.  “If you combine a trade deal that begins to unwind some of the tariff limitations that we face, combined with the growing demand for beef in China anyway,” he says.  “And then add to that, the overall protein deficit in China – all of that suggests tremendous opportunities.”

Peel says Australia is expected to drop to fourth place in the global beef export race, falling behind Brazil, India, and the US.  Additional herd liquidation is likely if conditions do not improve. 

AUDIO: Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University

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