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Australia cuts sugar harvest outlook after Cyclone Debbie destroys crops

By Colin Packham

CANBERRA, June 20 (Reuters) - Australia on Tuesday trimmed
its forecast for sugar production during the 2017/18 season by 7
percent after a destructive cyclone destroyed crops in a major
producing region.

Sugar production in the world's third-biggest raw sweetener
exporter will total 4.8 million tonnes in the 2017/18 season,
the Australian Bureau of Agriculture, Resource Economics and
Rural Sciences (ABARES) said, down from its previous estimate of
5.16 million tonnes in March.

ABARES said Cyclone Debbie - a powerful cyclone that brought
destructive winds and heavy rainfall across Australia's north
east coast in March - was responsible for the production
decline.

Lower Australian raw sugar production will aid global
benchmark prices, which hit a 16-month low last week on
ample global supplies.

Although Cyclone Debbie was unfavourable for Australian
sugar production, the heavy rains across Australia's east coast
will aid the country's dairy sector, ABARES said.

Milk production during the 2017/18 season may reach 9.25
billion litres, up nearly 3 percent from the 8.9 billion litres
forecast in March.

The larger Australian milk production is a welcomed boost
for Murray Goulburn, country's largest dairy processor,
which has been hamstrung by lower supplies.

Cyclone Debbie also aided Australian beef exports, ABARES
said, as heavy rains across the country's largest cattle
producing regions stimulated pasture growth.

Beef exports from the world's No. 4 exporter during 2017/18
may climb to 1.035 million tonnes, ABARES said, up 3.5 percent
from its March forecast of 1 million tonnes.

ABARES said the increased supply of pasture will produce, on
average, heavier cattle that will increase the amount of beef
produced.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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