PRODUCERS are counting their pennies, tightening their belts and are being much more selective when purchasing cattle.
Yesterday's Nettle Creek Invitational Commercial Female Sale was a perfect example of the effects of the widespread drought.
While the sale went "as expected", there were several promising results.
George and Fuhrmann's auctioneer Darren Perkins said cattle passing through the South Grafton saleyards yesterday were in good condition considering the dry weather.
"In saying that, people are being more selective, which means the cattle in lesser condition met lesser competition."
"The prolonging of the drought all over Australia has got people wanting to focus on what they've already got; they're not buying new cattle to bring in," he said.
Mr Perkins said the lack of summer rains was taking its toll on the short-term confidence of the beef industry.
"There's a lot of uncertainty because of the season," he said.
"But the long-term scheme of the beef industry looks very good."
Mr Perkins said the invitational sale presented a great opportunity for farmers to buy heifers to replace their old cows.
There were some strong prices scattered throughout the sale.
"PTIC (pregnancy-tested, in-calf) heifers made over $1000," Mr Perkins said.
About 20% of the cattle that went through the ring were passed in, but Mr Perkins said a number of sales were negotiated soon after.
"About half of those cattle that were passed in were under offer straight after the sale ended," he said.
Mr Perkins said there were no buyers from Queensland or Western NSW because of the drought.
"The competition was less because there wasn't the influence of those buyers who we normally have at this sale," he said.
"I think people realise what the markets are doing at the moment and we've just got to keep doing what we do best," he said.
"We just have to keep producing good beef."