STRONG cattle prices will be a mixed blessing for Queensland producers and bad news all round for consumers.
That was the upshot of reaction yesterday from the grazing and marketing sectors of the industry.
And the higher prices bear out the pre-Christmas predictions from Gympie processing and exporting company, Nolan Meats.
Prices would be higher as weather improved and farmers sought to re-stock, combined with growing Asian demand.
But Mr Nolan said the company would be in better shape than many to cope with reduced stock availability, because of its strong relationships with several suppliers.
Auctioneer Dan Sullivan's first sale of the new year demonstrated the predicted higher prices.
Mr Sullivan reported plenty of interest, a lot of people and strong demand.
He said a lot of the interest came from graziers recovering from drought, after heavy rain to Gympie's near north and west.
"The best cows with calves were selling at $2025 a unit (a cow with calf)," he said.
Quality heifers sold to a top of $3.91 and the best feeder stores fetched $3.38 a kg.
Speaking at his Long Flat property on the Mary Valley Hwy yesterday, stud breeder Stephen Duff, of Duff Red Brangus, said good news was overdue for farmers.
But how much benefit they would get from higher prices was debatable, given that many of them had few cattle left, after years of drought in western and northern Queensland.
"There are good prospects for continuing strong cattle prices in 2016 with strong overseas demand, a low Australian dollar and a forecast easing of current El Nino conditions in the coming months," he said.
"The recent improved prices are long overdue."
But he said many Queensland cattle producers would not have been receiving much of a return on their investment in recent years.
"Even with the improved prices many producers would be still struggling.
"Droughts mean breeder deaths, lower calvings, later calves and cattle being sold at lighter weights.
"It will take a long time, even on these prices, for many producers to recover."