SYDNEY, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Australia raised its forecast for beef production during the 2017/18 season by more than 6 percent on Tuesday as dry weather forces graziers to increase slaughters.
Beef production from the world's fourth largest exporter will total 2.244 million tonnes this season, the Australian Bureau of Agriculture, Resource Economics and Rural Sciences (ABARES) said, up from its previous estimate in June of 2.114 million tonnes.
The increased production comes as dry weather across Australia's largest cattle rearing region wilts grain supplies and drains water reserves, leaving graziers little choice but to sell animals for slaughter.
The increased production is a boost to Australian exporters, such as Cargill. They had been forced to idle processing plants over the last two years as farmers sought to rebuild herds after the end of the strongest El Nino in nearly 20 years in 2014, which drove slaughterings to a record high.
With increased supplies, Australian exporters will be able to better compete with South American nations, in particular Brazil, which are looking to expand shipments to key markets such as China.
The dry weather will also curb sugar production, ABARES said. It trimmed its forecast for sugar production during the 2017/18 season to 4.8 million tonnes, down from its previous estimate in June of 4.82 million tonnes.
ABARES left its forecast for milk production during the 2017/18 season unchanged at 9.25 billion litres. (Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Susan Fenton)