FOLLOWING on from last week's article about Argentina being close to resuming partial beef exports in combination with a priority quota plan for domestic beef supply, confirmation has now come by way of a government announcement reported in the Buenos Aires Times that the 30-day suspension imposed in May will be lifted under certain conditions.
Productive Development Minister Matias Kulfas together with Livestock and Fisheries Minister Luis Basterra announced last Tuesday that exports would be allowed to recommence but only up to 50 per cent of last year's average on a monthly basis.
The arrangement will be valid until August 31 when it will be reviewed and a decision taken as to its continuation.
Eleven beef products including seven cuts are prohibited from export until the end of the year but it is understood that the restrictions do not apply to export quota markets such as the EU high-quality Hilton quota.
Translation from Spanish suggests the excluded cuts include short ribs, flank, knuckle, brisket, and rib-cap roast with these being prioritised for the domestic market due to their popularity for traditional Argentine barbecue style of cooking.
Mr Kulfas estimates that the domestic priority measures could see between 20,000-30,000 additional tonnes of beef per month destined for the local market.
He emphasised the government's priority in implementing these arrangements is to ensure there is no lack of meat on Argentine tables.
In comparison to 'average food', the price of meat has doubled in recent months and it is the government's belief that the adopted measures will help stabilise prices.
But halving of beef exports will also halve the revenues earned by the sector which are vital to the country's economy.
The Argentine government's answer to this is to increase the size of the pie so that export levels can be maintained in tandem with domestic market protection measures.
In a written statement, the Productive Development Ministry said it would launch a 'Livestock Plan' in the next 30 days.
This will supposedly incentivise producers to increase beef production in the longer term from three million to five million tonnes per year.
New cattle market for Callide/Dawson
AGENCY firm Sheppard Rural has plans to bring back a regular local market for the Callide/Dawson valley and surrounding regions.
Principal John Sheppard said this week the intention initially is to have the new auction platform running on a monthly basis and with producer support progressively move to fortnightly sales.
"This should result in a strong, competitive regional sale, give purchasers access to cattle at the farm gate and producers the certainty of knowing the price they will receive before the cattle are loaded," he said.
John is no stranger to the Callide/Dawson region.
He started in Biloela in 1988 with Primac and subsequently Elders and was auctioneer there for many years.
He started Sheppard Rural in 2008 and while continuing with cattle sales also conducted a lot of clearing-sale auctions online.
It was through the process of refining the online system for clearing sales that John developed his ideas for how to improve the online cattle auction concept while retaining all the benefits.
The first step was to make the whole process more user-friendly.
In that regard John has embraced greater use of video, a sequential auction format, capacity to place bids against individual lots before the actual auction and ability to bid on-site or online.
The pre-bid arrangement should get prices up around the money and in combination with sequential selling of lots should mean a quick and efficient sale process on auction day without people having to sit around for lengthy periods of time.
Also for simplicity all bidding will be in dollars per head.
To help facilitate this, all cattle will have a dry curfew before being weighed on property. The vendor will sign a statutory declaration that the cattle have been off feed and water for whatever the actual period of time.
During the process of the sale, the computer will then calculate a guidance liveweight equivalent cents/kg rate to the dollar per head amount.
This will eliminate the need to stop at saleyard or weighbridge scales and result in a more streamlined property to property movement.
Assessment will entail the usual descriptive format plus video and vendor/assessor commentary. Cattle will also be treated for movement to a clearing dip.
As cattle are assessed they will be put up on the system.
Close off for listings is three days before the auction when pre-sale bidding can start.
As an added feature, the video taken at the time of assessment will be shown as the cattle are being sold.
Since Moura and Biloela cattle sales fell away, John sees benefit for re-establishment of a regular local market in central Queensland.
The first sale will be July 30 at 9am.
US imported lean cheaper
THE dynamics of the US beef complex showed some counter-intuitive trends last week.
On one hand the barometer of the domestic wholesale market, the Choice Cutout, recorded an US18.7c/lb drop indicating a very considerable weakening in price of certain cuts.
However domestic lean grinding beef continued its upward trajectory with 90CL boneless recording a gain of almost US3c/lb to US278c/lb.
This is in contrast to the imported beef market which continues to lose ground.
Indicator 90CL Aust/NZ blended cow was quoted at US2c/lb off at US279c/lb FOB East Coast which means the usual premium spread between imported frozen lean and domestic fresh lean has disappeared.
It is possible that the reason lies with increased competition from other markets particularly in view of developments in Argentina and likely continuing short supply from key sources such as Australia.
US end users may therefore be looking more to their domestic market to cover forward positions.
Meanwhile any change in grid rates here was limited to an extra 10c/kg on ox in places.
In south-east Qld, 4-tooth ox range from 655/690c/kg while heavy cows remain at 610/625c/kg.