Livestock producers forked out $234 million for pasture seed last season

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As pasture seed breeders claim they have consistently delivered 0.5 to 1.0% per annum increases in forage yields and quality while building in pest and disease resistance

It cost livestock producers $234 million for pasture seed last season but that investment returned $2.98 billion in farmgate value according to a seed sellers report

In an Australian-first, data released by pasture seed industry breeders claim they deliver $3 billion of value each year through improving their product efficiency.

Mr Osman Mewett, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Seed Federation (ASF), the peak national association for Australia’s seed for sowing sector said, “Australian seed companies supply 40,000 to 45,000 tonnes of pasture seed annually to livestock industries (dairy, beef, sheep meat and wool).

“In terms of farmgate value creation, this annually sown pasture seed delivers a total of $2.98 billion or 8% of the $35.3 billion farm gate value from the major livestock industries each year.

“The value-add of this seed highlights its critical contribution to the red meat, dairy and wool industries in Australia,” Osman Mewett added.

The research, undertaken by ASF, was conducted to better understand the size and value of the pasture seed industry, and to raise awareness of its contribution to local agriculture’s goal of becoming a $100 billion industry by 2030.

Osman Mewett continued, “This volume of annual pasture seed sales creates a further $5 billion of downstream value in the processing, logistics and retail sales of beef, sheep meat and milk.”

Sheep lapped up the quality pasture according to the report and resulted in $628M or 12% of the annual farm gate value for sheep meat, and 759M or 21% of the farm gate value for wool

While those sown pastures will also require fertiliser, agricultural chemical, machinery and labour inputs (all providing additional multiplier input effects), the farmgate production of the pasture seed sown annually delivers:

•          1 billion litres or 11% of Australia’s milk production;

•          260KT or 11% of Australia’s beef production;

•          147KT or 12% of Australia’s sheep meat production; and

•          59.6KT or 21% of Australia’s wool production.

In terms of farm gate value, the annual seed sown delivers:

•          $554M or 14% of the farm gate value for milk,

•          $1,042M or 6% of the annual farm gate value for beef,

•          $628M or 12% of the annual farm gate value for sheep meat, and

•          $759M or 21% of the farm gate value for wool.

The total value of improved pastures to our livestock industry was beyond the scope of this study but is likely to be much greater than the value creation resulting from just the annual pasture seed planted last year.

Pasture breeding has consistently delivered 0.5 to 1.0% per annum increase in forage yields, plus improvements in forage quality, pest and disease resistance.

“In the past five-years the use of improved proprietary seed has increased from 61% to 68%. This highlights the recognition by livestock producers and their advisors of the extra value they can receive from planting innovative and improved varieties,” Osman Mewett concluded.

For the past 2020/21 financial year, 41,500 tonnes of pasture seed sales resulted in some 2.4 million hectares of pastures and forage crops being sown.

Of this area, approximately 800,000ha was sown as temperate perennial pastures, 200,000ha of sub-tropical perennial pastures, 500,000ha of annual pastures, 300,000ha of winter forage crops and 600,000ha of summer forage crops.

This volume of pasture seed was worth $234 million to seed companies in 2020/21.