A survey facilitated by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), has indicated a sense of optimism among Australian beef producers over the next 12 months.

The inaugural beef producers intentions survey (BPIS) is scheduled three times a year, and covers different sectors of the Australian grassfed cattle industry.

The survey covers herd profile (age, sex and breed information), herd intentions, factors influencing on-farm decisions, cull rates, bull purchases, calving rates, sales channels and type of operation.

Conducted throughout November and December 2023, the survey noted improvements in producer sentiment and market conditions.

Towards the end of the year, MLA indicated that Australia experienced a return to more favourable weather conditions after the volatile market in 2023, leading to a brighter outlook for producers in 2024.

Among the 3,767 surveyed producers across Australia, MLA revealed that 38% “expressed optimism” about the beef industry over the next year, while 26% indicated a negative sentiment.

Notably, larger producers exhibited a more positive outlook compared to their smaller counterparts.

Of the 38% that had an optimistic view about the beef industry, MLA explained that 59% expressed a likelihood of retaining more heifers than usual.

The survey revealed that northern producers showed a 62% inclination towards retaining more heifers, with southern closely behind at 58%.

Australian beef sector

Overall, northern producers demonstrated a more positive outlook for the industry compared to southern producers, according to the findings of the survey.

The MLA revealed the southern herd is expected to contract by 1% and the northern herd is expected to grow by 3%.

While the southern herd has reached maturity after four consecutive years of favourable weather conditions in terms of rainfall, the northern herd is anticipated to grow in 2024, according to the MLA findings.

The BPIS revealed that northern producers exhibit greater optimism than southern producers.

MLA said: “Regional variations were observed, with Queensland producers displaying a more positive outlook compared to those in other states, while producers in Western Australia (WA) held a notably less optimistic view.”

The survey revealed that WA producers forecasted a 7% reduction in herd size, while Queensland producers anticipated a 4% increase.