Rocky Marshall tends to his field at sunset at Palmers Channel.
Rocky Marshall tends to his field at sunset at Palmers Channel. Adam Hourigan

A good time to be livin' and a-workin' on the land

IN THE 50 or more years that Robert Sutherland has been in the cattle industry, he can't remember seeing the market as strong as it is now, and with the cane harvest looking to exceed tonnage expectations, farmers are looking to make the most of the favourable conditions.

At last week's store cattle sale, Farrell McCrohon stock agent David Farrell said it was one of the dearest sales he has witnessed, with strong demand for cattle off the back of rain in central Queensland and large parts of NSW pushing the market up.

"The market is very strong at the moment, it hasn't dropped off," he said.

"There have been a lot of out of town buyers who are paying good prices for local cattle and that's keeping the market very strong."

Mr Sutherland said the strong cattle market and good weather conditions have combined to give cattle producers something to smile about.

"It's a good time to be in the industry for once," he said.

"In the Clarence Valley there's a lot of good rye grass around, so everything looks to be going pretty good. It's been a fairly mild winter in most of the valley, which is good because it hasn't knocked the pasture around, and it's been just about right with the moisture.

"You can't get carried away though. The thing about it now is that with the good prices the cattle is fetching, the whole area is reaping the benefits because we've got money to spend on machinery and fertilisers, which hasn't been around cattle sometimes."

Cane farmers have also been enjoying some favourable growing conditions, and farmer Rocky Marshall said he is expecting an above average tonnage from his crop this year.

"The past 12 months have been above average growing conditions, and we've been able to take advantage of that," he said.

"I'm very happy with the results so far."

NSW Cane Growers' Association Clarence Valley executive officer Pat Battersby said it's "happy days" after about two months of the cane harvest.

"We are currently harvesting at estimate or above, the sugar levels are about one unit above our budget, so everything is going good," he said.

"Prices are good, and the indications are that those prices will stay up there for a while yet, so the future looks bright. Returns and yields are good, so all we can see are happy days,"