The world’s growing appetite for meat has created a boom for Aussie beef producers. With the national herd approaching a 20-year low, the challenge will be keeping up with demand.

Story By Nathan Dyer

On a cloudy morning in Dalby, Qld, Russell Jorgensen’s voice echoes through the small town’s saleyards. Perched above a pen of steers, the young auctioneer reels off prices like a machine gun, his voice rising above the din of 2000 yarded animals. Trade is brisk and when the selling is done, lightweight yearling steers will have averaged 354 cents per kilogram, 35 percent up on the same time last year.

Taking a break at the saleyard canteen, Russell says strong prices and scattered summer rains have brought cautious optimism to a region that 12 months ago was offloading cattle because of feed shortages. “At the moment it’s very good,” says the 28-year-old GDL Rural auctioneer based out of Meandarra, 150 kilometres to the west. “People are wanting to sell cattle because of the way prices are, not because they have to sell cattle to pay bank interest or bills.”

Record saleyard prices, expanding markets and a low Aussie dollar have created a bonanza for many in the Australian beef industry. The country’s leading price index, the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI), topped 600c/kg earlier this year and live export prices delivered to Darwin cracked the 380c/kg mark in February. Record beef exports have created a farm-gate boom for producers with cattle to sell. Rural communities across the nation are buzzing with talk of beef.

This story excerpt is from Issue #106

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2016