Cattle numbers set to plummet
NATIONAL cattle numbers are expected to drop to just 26 million head next year, according to MLA's Ben Thomas.
Speaking at Friday's Young Beef Producers' Forum, Mr Thomas said demand for quality cattle was outstripping the supply available.
"There's been a big sell off over the last two years and we've seen a significant drop of three million head in just 24 months," he said.
Mr Thomas said the quality of Australian beef was the driving factor behind global demand and any interruption to the quality assurance cycle would be devastating.
"Our quality assurance systems from paddock to plate put Australian beef in the box seat," he said.
"Imagine the market downfall if diseases such as FMO got into our herd - it would completely derail the market.
"Controlling disease is critical for the Australian beef industry in terms of holding onto overseas demand."
Mr Thomas said kill numbers for export (an estimated 7.5 million head next year) would remain stable while the domestic market may bear the brunt of decreasing Australian stock levels.