Australian Seed Exports Fuel Booming South American Beef Industry

Pasture Genetics new seed warehouse while under construction last month in Virginia, South Australia.

The thriving South American beef industry is helping Australian pasture crops find new roots.

Major forage seed distributor Pasture Genetics is preparing to meet Argentina’s growing cattle feed demand and has built a new warehouse in Virginia, South Australia, to house its export product. The company already sells its commodity varieties to Argentina and is in the process of establishing a market for its improved premium range. Pasture Genetics’ new building is expected to increase capacity by 50 per cent, promoting early storage and eliminating housing fees for suppliers.

International Business Manager Sean Coffey said although the company had success in other markets including the Middle East, the booming beef industry in South America was the next key target.

Pasture Genetics new seed warehouse while under construction last month in Virginia, South Australia.

Pasture Genetics product being readied for shipment.

“We produce high-quality pasture grain and dry matter like legumes, and although some of it is used as cover crop, our real focus is livestock feed,” he said. “Because of our steady growth with exports, we are bursting at the seams and built a purpose-built seed shed to house all our export operations. Argentina has a very big beef industry and as such there is huge demand for pasture seed.”

Pasture Genetics is one of Australia’s largest seed distributors and has supplied forage crops to the local industry since 1997. It specializes in the production of a wide range of proprietary and common seed lines including lucerne (alfalfa), medics, clovers and legumes.

Since 2013, the company has targeted more international markets and doubled its export sales turnover. Its primary export targets are the Middle East, the United States, and Europe. However, Coffey said widespread concern over the stability of the Saudi Arabian dairy industry caused the company to look to new markets.

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Pasture Genetics’ new seed warehouse while under construction last month in Virginia, South Australia.

South America is the world’s largest producer of beef, with about 25 percent of the global market. This market share is expected to grow due to favourable currency rates and increasing exports to China. Argentina has long been a major beef producer and exported about 230,000 tonnes last year. At home, Argentines eat more beef per capita than any other nation. Argentina has almost 52 million cattle and is forced to import a large amount of pasture seed to grow food for its herd.

Coffey said the new warehouse would help Pastor Genetics achieve its export growth goals because it enabled the company to get closer to its source farms, which are typically family-run businesses in rural South Australia. “It’s no fluke that we choose to stay here,” he said. “We have a lot of local growers with quality crops and the reason being is that the climatic conditions of South Australia make it beneficial for producing the seed we need.”

South Australia has a thriving agriculture industry, with about 4 million hectares of planted crops each year, producing about 7 million tonnes per annum. The southeast portion of the state is responsible for about 83 percent of Australia’s total lucerne seed production, encompassing more than 16,000 hectares of irrigated and dryland farms.

Construction of Pasture Genetics’ new warehouse was completed at the end of October, paving the way for the company to ramp up exports of its premium product into Argentina next year.

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