Sheep industry shines as incomes fall for Australian farmers


FARM cash incomes are expected to fall for about half of Australia’s broadacre farms in 2017-18 with lower grain crops and beef cattle prices – but they’ll still be above average.

And the sheep industry would remain “a shining light”.

“This year, farm cash incomes are expected to average $170,000 per farm,” ABARES chief commodity analyst Peter Gooday said.

“This is the highest we’ve seen on sheep farms in at least 20 years in real terms and is driven by solid prices for wool and lamb and greater production of sheep meat and wool.”

The projection comes off the back of the 2016-17 farm cash income average of $212,600 a farm, the highest farm cash income recorded in the past 20 years after record winter grain production and high prices for beef cattle.

Mr Gooday told the ABARES Outlook 2018 conference in Canberra yesterday that farm cash income for broadacre farms was on average $191,000 a farm in 2017-18.

This year’s result would still be the second highest farm cash income recorded nationally at 32 per cent above the average for the previous decade.

“For beef farms, average incomes in 2017-18 are expected to decline from $150,000 per farm last year to $132, 000 in 2017-18,” Mr Gooday said.

“Beef prices fell globally but remain well above average.

“The dairy industry has also seen a big turnaround in farm cash income, up from $89, 600 last year to $137,000 in 2017-18, mainly as a result of improved milk prices.”

In the grains industry, farm cash incomes were expected to fall in some regions, particularly on Eyre and Yorke peninsulas, after bad weather led to lower grain production.

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