Events that shaped ag in 2019

2019: The year in review


Ken Wilcock looks back at the major events of 2019.



CPTPP entered into force on December 30 and ChAFTA on January 1. Disappointing rainfall brings rush of bookings causing opening rates in southern Queensland to drop by 10c to 535c/kg for 4-tooth ox and 460c for heavy cows. Townsville's Stuart plant opens in January for the first time.

The first live cattle shipment from Rockhampton's Port Alma leaves for China. The Australian dollar hits three-year low dropping below US70c for the first time since 2016. Pork products seized at Australian borders contain live ASF virus. Further price falls bring ox to 525c and cow to 445c.


The biggest January beef exports since 2014. North Queensland is inundated after 10 days of relentless rain and losses mount as floodwaters spread across north-west Queensland. The remainder of the state is locked in drought but the Channel Country benefits from northern flooding.

Female cattle slaughter rises sharply and prices drop to 515c for ox and 435c for cow. Korean retail giant Lotte buys Sandalwood feedlot. Green paper options are released for red meat industry reform. MLA appoints Jason Strong as MD. Inaugural NTCA president Grant Heaslip dies.


Successive price falls take ox to 475c and cows to 380c. Patchy rain in NSW and Cyclone Trevor in central and far west Queensland arrest the slide and resets the ox price to 500c and cow to 400c. Trade deals are signed with Indonesia and Hong Kong.

The US faces a tariff hike to 50 per cent on frozen beef to Japan. Japan meat importer S Foods buys NSW processor Monbeef. MSA resets hump height.


Widespread rain in NSW and Queensland sparks a 40c price hike taking ox to 535c and cow to 440c. China mounts a major pork import program due to the ASF impact.

An EAT-Lancet campaign to promote plant-based diets at the expense of meat and dairy meets strong opposition. John Dee sells stake in Yarranbrook feedlot to Stone Axe Pastoral. ABRI founder Arthur Rickards dies aged 77. BTEC stalwart John Stewart dies aged 86.


Kill soars to 2015 level as works bookings stretch out causing cow price to drop to 420c. Cattle on feed hit a 1.145 million head record. Manildra Group puts Cootamundra abattoir on the market. Japan lifts the age restriction on US beef.

A class action is initiated against US processors for conspiring to depress cattle prices. ACMA finds the ABC in breach of impartiality rules in a beef story. South Australia's Mayura is awarded 2019 grand champion Wagyu brand. Bridget McKenzie is appointed agriculture minister.


ABARES estimates North Queensland flood losses at 600,000 head. The high proportion of females in kill continues. Teys applies a grid premium for HGP-free cattle. TFI to rebuild on new site after 2018 fire. Woodward Foods sells minority shareholding to a Chinese investor. NF Foods launches Nature's Fresh brand in Queensland. China bans Canadian meat after ractopamine detection. Mauro Balzarini ceases as Wellard CEO. Margo Andrae resigns as CEO from CCA. David Crombie retires from AA Co board.


Patchy rain and slower bookings push ox price to 560c and cow to 460c. The hide market plunges. EU/Mercosur trade deal is agreed. Indonesia stop/start on Indian buffalo meat imports. NSW enacts heavy fines for farm invasion. Wellard shares trading halt. Howard Yelland Beef Industry Award goes to Jon Condon and James Nason. ALPA CEO Andy Madigan retires. Pastoral giant Peter Sherwin dies aged 88


China beef safeguard triggers lifting of tariff on Australian product to 12pc. Indonesia opens market to Brazilian beef. ASF pig losses reach 5 million. There is a record 1.147m head on feed. Casino's Three Rivers Farms veal wins a major national food industry award. The Bondfield and Millner families win RNA Paddock to Palate. Ross Peatling wins NABRC medal. Elanco buys Bayer Animal Health. Ruralco Landmark merger is approved by ACCC. Woolworths' Pat McEntee becomes MD of Hilton Foods Australia.


ASF reaches East Timor. A China cattle shipment is halted due to protocol breaches. There is frustration over long delays in live-ex independent observer reports. China and Australia meat bodies sign a partnership MoU. Harmony Agriculture and Food goes into liquidation. John Dee abattoir and feedlot expansion is announced. Woolworths Queensland moves to case ready. Richard Brimblecombe is the new CEO for NAPCO. Elders chairman Michael Carroll stands down. Droughtmaster Society appoints Simon Gleeson as new GM. Inverell agent Peter Baldwin to head ALPA.

A CSIRO/Hungry Jacks partnership launched plant-based burger in October.

A CSIRO/Hungry Jacks partnership launched plant-based burger in October.


US wins major beef tariff concession from Japan in limited trade deal. Korean safeguard is set to trigger. Tighter supply sees successive price increases to 600c for ox and 500c for cow. Borthwicks Mackay trials frozen beef shipments out of Townsville. A CSIRO/Hungry Jacks partnership launches plant-based burger. New rapid test for bluetongue virus is developed. Lotfeeder Mort & Co wins Premier of Queensland Export Award. Troy Setter is the new chairman of LiveCorp. Andrew Cox is the new MLA general manager international markets. Agribusiness lawyer Bill Loughnan dies aged 66.


Record high prices for lean grinding beef and a supply shortage sees grid price for cows momentarily hit 520c. A sudden surge in supply covers processor requirements to end of year and prices ease. Japan parliament approves US trade deal ready to commence January 1. Indonesia imposes a 5pc breeder rule on live cattle imports. Tourist visas are cancelled over biosecurity breaches at the Australian border. Queensland government approves lay pregnancy testing of cattle. Hilton/Woolworths retail-ready facility opens at Heathwood Brisbane. Roly Nieper is named Lifetime Achiever and inducted into Livex Hall of Fame. Brahman breed stalwart and Beef Expo founder Ken Coombe dies aged 87.


Grids ease with late rush of cattle to end the season at 580c for ox and 480c for cow. China surges past Japan with November import tonnage of 34,000 to be Australia's biggest beef customer. The EU parliament votes in favour of allocating 80pc of its 45,000t high-quality GF beef quota to the US. Federal agriculture and environment departments merge in major portfolio reshuffle. Gary Hardwick is the new chairman of AMIC.


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