IN a joint statement released on Saturday, New Zealand's Meat Industry Association and Beef + Lamb NZ welcomed China's formal application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
News of China's decision to join CPTPP emerged last Thursday with a formal application submitted to New Zealand, the repository nation for the agreement.
The Asia-Pacific trade pact was successfully concluded as an 11-nation deal after the US, under President Donald Trump, pulled out of the deal in 2017. China is the second country seeking to join the deal after the UK sought membership earlier this year.
President Joe Biden's administration has so far shown no interest in re-joining.
Despite Australia and China being at a low point in political and trade relationships, China used a parliamentary inquiry to lobby Canberra to support the application.
Calm before the storms
LESS than one month into spring the daytime temperatures in central western Queensland are already ratcheting up and windy, blustery days are combining to take a toll on the feed that has to last until the first of the storms get new-season grass under way.
Winton agent Tom Brodie said the common thing now is that people are saying they haven't got quite as much feed as they thought.
North of Corfield towards Hughenden is not too bad but towards McKinlay and Boulia is very ordinary in places. Patches around Winton are also heading the same way while south towards Blackall is hit and miss with some good areas but a lot starting to look pretty bare.
With no sign of storms yet the hope is for something in October.
Activity wise, things are tapering off.
Tom thought most would be getting close to finishing their preg testing for the year as the numbers are just not there.
Some people would be as low as 30-40 per cent of what might be regarded normal carrying capacity and in the more fortunate areas he estimated there would not be a lot even at 60-70pc.
As well as low cattle numbers, the earlier onset of hot weather in recent years has led to an earlier pattern of mustering and cattle movement.
COVID has also played a part in this trend.
With restrictions on interstate and overseas travel and fewer events to attend, that time instead has allowed the mustering calendar to be brought forward.
All told there will not be much happening into October this year.
Tom said, "We always used to say go at the end of October but there are no longer the lines of cattle we used to see several years ago."
Noticeably there are few meatworks cattle to speak of.
Even at 10-12pc empties, the low breeder numbers on individual properties are going to yield no more than a couple of decks of fats.
But that said, there has been some stock movement with cattle returning to the district from agistment.
Movement of cattle from the Winton region down onto agistment in northern NSW got under way after the drought-breaking rains in the south in late January, 2020.
As well, there was strong enquiry from the south to buy cattle out of the Winton region and a number became repeat customers for cattle that could be turned over in relatively short-term trades on the back of the quality of the feed and exceptional weight gains.
The rising market made those trades failsafe but it also had an impact on just how many agistment cattle would return home.
Some opted in favour of building numbers at home while others saw the extreme rates as too good to refuse.
Tom said in turn these decisions to sell had lessened the demand for agistment.
The sentiment, it seems, is that money in the bank is easier to manage than cattle in a faraway paddock, especially when access is cut off by state border movement restrictions.
It is also the case that a number of people are modifying their attitude towards how they run their cattle enterprises in light of their experience in recent years with drought, changing weather patterns, agistment and the like.
He sees more people now that would have been an all-breeding operation in the past turning towards trading as part of their strategy.
The sentiment, it seems, is that with fewer breeders they may be able to withstand the droughts a bit better by being in a position to sell earlier.
In the meantime, as always at this time of year, it is more about the onset of the storms and whether they will be the prelude to a big, soaking, summer break.
Southerners press north for cattle
AT the coalface, competition for the limited number of slaughter cattle has intensified, with the latest report from one major Queensland processor of southern operators now as far north as Charters Towers weighing and dipping Brahman bullocks to take back to Victoria.
While there have been times when Victorian processors have gone well up into the Northern Territory for cows to process, this may well be a first for north Qld.
Veteran Charters Towers agent Jim Geaney had not heard of Victorians coming this far north before but mentioned that NSW operators with buyers based in central Qld have been active in the north for a number of months.
The southerners will likely remain in Qld markets until the season down there gets properly under way and the numbers start to flow.
Grid rates meanwhile in southern Qld remain mostly unchanged on the increased rates of two weeks ago.
Four-tooth ox are still attracting 760c/kg from the majors while heavy cow has adjusted to 700-720c.
Noticeably one central-coast NSW operator has four-tooth Jap ox and heavy cow on the same rung at 700c.
Overseas, imported lean beef prices in the US were quoted by Steiner as steady to higher.
Indicator Australian/NZ 90CL blended cow was 1cent/lb dearer at US282c/lb FOB East Coast.