From Hilltops Council – Tony Flanery

Written by: Councillor Tony Flanery

Tony Flanery

2023 was a tough year for many, both internationally and domestically.Domestically, the year started with floods and interest rate rises and ended in pretty much the same fashion.

Interest rates have remained stable for a few months now, but a lot of damage has been done as a result of the Reserve Bank declaring that they wouldn’t rise until 2024.

Last winter and spring, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) had forecasted an El Niño with an extremely hot and dry summer, which the media soon called a “Super El Niño”. As a consequence, farmers sold record numbers of livestock and the markets for both sheep and lambs plummeted. Lambs fell to levels not seen since the mid 1980’s. The Federal Government is now putting supermarkets under the spotlight for not reducing meat prices to reflect the decrease.

I believe the BOM should also be subjected to a similar review. By my estimation, around $8 billion dollars was wiped off the value of livestock nationally following last year’s sell off. This has a huge flow-on effect on the equity levels of farmers and can cause banks to panic over the debt levels, particularly when there has been a sharp rise in interest rates.

Many sold livestock last spring at prices 50-60% less than they received only months beforehand. This flows onto the retail sector in small country towns such as Harden, Boorowa and Young as spending drops in response to budgetary constraints. Fortunately, we have had good rain through December and into January, which has seen livestock prices rise although they are still below this time last year.

According to the BOM we are still in the grip of El Niño, but they are now stating that it does not always mean drier conditions. Perhaps they should have said as much last spring.

Even more regrettable is that next time they put out such dire warnings many will not take any notice and will hold onto stock when they should be selling.

We are still very lucky to live in Australia and not Ukraine. It is just unbelievable that our Federal Government is scrapping and burying our grounded Taipan helicopters rather than giving them to a country in such desperate need. It is little wonder our government agencies are so out of touch when they get recommendations such as this so wrong. Regards

Tony Flanery

Picton Bros

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