Australia trimmed its forecast for beef exports on Tuesday as farmers reduce slaughter rates, with better weather triggering a slow-down in a run of record cullings expected to push the country's herd to a 20-year low.
Beef exports are expected to total 1.19 million tonnes in the year to July 1, 2016, the Australian Bureau of Agriculture, Resource Economics and Rural Sciences (ABARES) said, down from its September forecast of 1.225 million tonnes.
The bureau trimmed slaughter numbers during the 2015/16 season by just over 2 percent from its September estimate to 9 million head of cattle, as farmers reacted to better-than-expected weather in September and the forecast end to an El Nino weather event early in 2016.
The forecast would see cull numbers drop to a three-year low after the worst El Nino in 20 years wilted pasture and dried out dams in Australia's largest cattle producing state of Queensland, pushing slaughter numbers to record highs.
Australia's national herd is still expected to fall to a two-decade low, according to industry body, Meat and Livestock Australia, with the bureau pegging the herd at 26.7 million head of cattle at the end of the 2015/16 season.
The fall in beef exports comes as the United States, Australia's biggest red meat buyer, is expected to slow its demand for imports after rebuilding its herd. The bureau forecast Australian exports to the U.S. during the 2015/16 season of 325,000 tonnes - down from its September estimate of 420,000 tonnes.
Exports to Japan were revised down to 275,000 tonnes during the 2015/16 seaon, from a previous forecast of 315,000 tonnes, as high local prices, drive consumers to eat more pork.
Live cattle exports were seen unchanged at 1.1 million head of cattle, as increased demand from Vietnam offsets reduced exports to Indonesia.
The first shipment of 150 head of cattle was exported to China in October, after a July deal to allow live exports, with small additional orders expected at the end of 2015, ABARES said.
Wheat exports from the world's fourth-largest seller of the grain were pegged at 16.948 million tonnes, down 3.4 percent from a previous estimate of 17.53 million tones.
Australian milk production was seen at 9.75 million litres, ABARES said, down on its September estimate of 9.8 million litres.
Sugar production during the 2015/16 season was seen at 4.8 million tonnes, down from a September estimate of 5 million tonnes.