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Cotton Collective Industry Forum addresses latest developments

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Cotton

A TWO-DAY Cotton Collective Industry Forum covering a huge range of topics — from research and development, connected agriculture and technology, to positioning Australian cotton in the world fibre market — was held this week for the first time in Griffith, Southern New South Wales. More than 500 cotton growers from across Queensland and New South Wales travelled to Griffith to discuss issues of importance facing the industry and catch-up on the latest developments in farming. Cotton Australia CEO, Adam Kay, says the organisation convenes the event every two years, with this year’s Collective gathering an impressive line-up of expert speakers. “The 2017 Cotton Collective brought together the whole industry to discuss the most important issues facing growers,” he said. “It was also an extremely valuable forum for those in the industry to learn about the latest technology, which is crucial to maintain the industry’s high standards for productivity.” “This year’s program and speaker line-up was extremely diverse, giving attendees a broad variety of topics covering many issues affecting cotton growers.” “The cotton industry has grown rapidly in southern NSW in recent years, with many farmers becoming cotton growers for the first time, so we were happy to devote a …

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Colour your week of Ekka with agricultural naturals

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Coming Events, Cotton, Dairy, Horticulture, Livestock, Sugar

QUEENSLAND-GROWN wool and cotton, highlighted with leather, bamboo and silk, will be the agricultural centrepiece of the Natural Fibre Fashion Parade carrying the theme ‘Back to Nature’ as part of the 140th Royal Brisbane Show from August 11 to 20. Directed by Laura Churchill, the runway will feature 27 established, emerging and regional designers for one fabulous display of style. And in the newly-named Agricultural Education Hall, there will be more educational activities for children than ever before, including the new Field to Fork interactive rural journey where kids will discover how their food gets from the field to their fork. In order of the agricultural cycle — composting, soil analysis, growing and planting, harvesting and processing — they’ll take part in activities such as grinding grains into flour and then using the flour to bake healthy muffins. This year’s annual event — the only major state event to lay claim to such longevity — is celebrating this milestone by introducing for the first time, half-price entry and an expanded fireworks spectacular of two displays each evening. Queensland’s largest annual event has a remarkable history, being staged every year except for just two — in 1919 due to the Spanish …

Grants available to support vibrant cotton growing communities

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Cotton, Current News

THE AUSSIE Cotton Farmers Grow Communities grants program, which opens today, is again offering cotton farmers in New South Wales and Queensland the chance to nominate a local not-for-profit organisation to receive one of thirty $5,000 grants. To date, the program, which is presented by the Monsanto Fund in partnership with the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR), has distributed $450,000 to 90 community projects across 14 cotton-growing areas. The grants have funded a diverse range of critical needs projects, spanning health, wellbeing, agricultural production, education, disability, infrastructure, local media, nursing, food, emergency services and vital community service groups. Monsanto Fund representative in Australia, Carissa Buckland, said the program’s aim is to make a lasting and positive impact on the wellbeing, prosperity and vibrancy of cotton growing communities throughout New South Wales and Queensland. “We are proud to partner with FRRR to deliver this program for the fourth consecutive year. The feedback we receive is that these grants allow local communities to build, create and fund the projects that mean the most to them and will have long-lasting impact in their area,” said Ms Buckland. FRRR CEO, Natalie Egleton, said that local leaders know what is needed most in …

Irrigators demand action on Finkel report ‘energy trilemma’

Colin Jackson Cotton, Current News

IRRIGATORS and cotton growers in New South Wales have called on the Australian Government to take action on electricity pricing crippling farmers, after more than a week of radio silence following the release of the Finkel Review. On June 9, 2017, Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel presented his review on the future of the National Electricity Market to COAG. The Finkel Report highlighted the ‘energy trilemma’ of energy security, universal access to affordable energy and reduced emissions — a problem that must be solved in order to provide consumers with affordable electricity now and into the future. “The NSW Irrigators’ Council and Cotton Australia welcomed the Finkel Report’s three pillars of strong governance, system planning and orderly transition, which are the first steps towards addressing the complexity, duplication in responsibilities, inefficiencies and conflict of interests plaguing our electricity system,” says NSW Irrigators’ Council Policy Manager, Stefanie Schulte. “We were also pleased to see that Dr Finkel called for a stronger demand management approach to mitigate future new network costs — a key driver of irrigators’ and growers’ electricity costs. However, we must ensure that the networks are held to account to implement these changes so that all consumers are able …

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Finalists announced for 2017 Australian Cotton Industry Awards

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Cotton, Current News

GROWERS, researchers and industry members from a large cross-section of cotton growing regions are amongst the finalists for this year’s Australian Cotton Industry Awards. Cotton Australia CEO, Adam Kay, says the finalists were selected based on their contributions to the cotton industry across a wide range of areas, including farming best practice, research and development, innovation, leadership and industry advocacy. Monsanto Grower of the Year and AgriRisk High Achiever of the Year: Andrew Dickson, ‘Marebone’, Warren NSW Mark Cathcart, CSD Farms, Wee Waa, NSW Simon Corish, ‘Yattlewondi’, Mungindi, NSW Rod Smith, ‘Archerfield’, Gunnedah, NSW Ross Uebergang, “Tinobah” Miles, Qld Toscan Family Partnership, Darlington Point, NSW ADAMA Chris Lehmann Trust Young Cotton Fiona Norrie, Narrabri, NSW Liz Lobsey, Toowoomba, Qld Cameron Derbidge, Goondiwindi, Qld Cotton Seed Distributors Researcher of the Year Sharon Downes, CSIRO, Narrabri, NSW Paul Grundy (Toowoomba) and Steve Yeates (Ayr), QDAF and CSIRO, Qld Graham Charles, NSW DPI, Narrabri, NSW   Mr Kay says each of the finalists had made outstanding contributions to the industry, and deserved recognition. “Nominations across all categories were to a very high standard this year, which made the task of selecting finalists extremely difficult for our judging panels,” he says. “This group of people represent the strengths of our industry …

Cotton Narrabri Buyers

Materially, this is how to cotton-on to fashion

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Cotton, Current News

LEADING FIGURES from the Australian fashion and textile sector toured Narrabri’s cotton industry on May 2 — visiting a farm, gin and research station to learn first-hand about the raw materials that go into cotton garments and homewares. The event incorporated a tour of Auscott’s Narrabri farm and gin, where attendees saw cotton harvesting and processing in action, followed by presentations by world-leading cotton scientists at the Australian Cotton Research Institute (ACRI). The day attracted some of the biggest names in fashion, including representatives from Jeanswest, Target Australia, H&M, IKEA, Hanes Brands Australasia, CottonON, Camilla and Marc, Country Road Group, Specialty Fashion Group (representing Rivers, Katies and more), CB Clothing, ABCH, the Australian Fashion Chamber, Baptist World Aid and Save the Children. “The tour connected both ends of the cotton supply chain, allowing brand owners, retailers and designers to meet and learn from the farmers who grow some of the world’s highest quality, sustainable natural fibres,” says Cotton Australia CEO, Adam Kay. “Attendees were able to stand in a cotton field to feel and touch the fibre for themselves, ride in a cotton harvester, talk directly to growers and industry, see cotton being ginned and hear from our excellent research …

HAVE YOUR SAY: Lending practices as they pertain to primary production

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Cotton, Current News, Dairy, Horticulture, Livestock, Produce, Sugar

A SENATE SELECT Committee on Lending to Primary Production Customers was established on February 16 to inquire and report on the regulation and practices of financial institutions in relation to primary production industries, including agriculture, fisheries and forestry. Committee Membership consists of: Chair: Senator Malcolm Roberts, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Deputy Chair: Senator John Williams, The Nationals, NSW Member: Senator Chris Back, Liberal Party of Australia, WA Member: Senator Anthony Chisholm, Australian Labor Party, Qld Member: Senator Jane Hume, Liberal Party of Australia, Vic Member: Senator Claire Moore, Australian Labor Party, Qld Terms of Reference will have particular reference to: The lending, and foreclosure and default practices, including constructive and non-monetary default processes; The roles of other service providers to, and agents of, financial institutions, including valuers and insolvency practitioners, and the impact of these services; The appropriateness of internal complaints handling and dispute management procedures within financial institutions; and The appropriateness of loan contract terms particular to the primary production industries, including loan-to-value ratios and provision of reasonable written notice. The committee has also resolved that: In conducting the inquiry, the committee will not investigate, or seek to resolve or adjudicate disputes between customers, banks or other parties; and …

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Field day to celebrate Grower Of The Year, cotton industry excellence

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Cotton, Current News

COTTON GROWERS and industry participants from across Queensland and New South Wales will gather at Quirindi later this month for the annual National Cotton Grower of the Year Field Day. The event will be hosted by Monsanto Grower Of The Year recipients, Ian, Marilyn and Harry Carter on March 16 at their property, ‘Connamara’, at Pine Ridge near Quirindi. The field day coincides with the opening of nominations for the 2017 Australian Cotton Industry Awards, which recognise excellence and high achievement throughout the cotton supply chain. Cotton Australia CEO, Adam Kay, says the Carters farm 2500ha on the fertile black soils of the Liverpool Plains, with a particular eye for detail. “The Carters’ operation is an innovative one, utilising no-till farming to conserve soil moisture and water injection at planting to drive yield outcomes through erratic seasonal conditions,” Mr Kay said. “Their management style involves close scrutiny of all nitrogen and pest control inputs.” “Like most farmers, the Carters are innovative with their machinery, and we expect many people to attend this event to see their sophisticated conversion of a cotton picker into a forklift.” In addition to a presentation from the Carters, attendees at the National Grower Of The …

Why farmers must fight — and governments must be fairer adjudicators

Colin Jackson Cotton, Current News, Horticulture, Livestock, Markets, Sugar

AGALERT DOESN’T APOLOGISE for concentrating so much on the Wilmar dispute, even for all those farmers who don’t grow sugar cane. That’s because it goes to the heart of modern farming and current business practices. It’s a very 21st century issue much at the heart of current frustration with the political and business system by the mass of populations in western democracies around the world. Politics and business is not regarded as being about ‘what’s fair’ and ‘what’s good for as many as possible in our populations and for our country’. It’s about who can aggressively win the most. A recent stockbroker report praised a number of companies as terrific investments because they cornered a monopoly which gave them pricing power over customers, and buying power to screw suppliers as employees. That’s what CEOs earn the very big bucks for. To put their conscience in a box and grab monopoly, and screw away at everyone’s they deal with — all, of course, behind the nice politically correct mission statements about serving customers, suppliers, employees, etc, etc. CSR was a tough, paternalistic, authoritarian sugar miller for a century, but they took the big bucks from Wilmar — $1.7 billion or about …

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Countdown to Foreign Fairness

Colin Jackson Cotton, Current News, Dairy, Horticulture, Livestock, Produce, Sugar

THIS WEEK is a countdown to fairness of foreign-owned companies to farmers — Australian farmers in a week that includes Australia Day. Agalert will bring a series of stories, facts and political responses to this issue through the week. While the issue is centred on whether Singaporean giant Wilmar will offer a fair deal to sugar cane farmers, the issue affects all farmers. The beef, sheep (meat and wool), grains, oilseeds, fruit and vegetable processing sectors in Australia are all largely foreign-owned. Most have bought existing facilities developed by Australian companies and farmer co-ops. Their investment is not largely to build new facilities, but to control markets and eventually pricing and premium branding profits. This is the test — one that the Foreign Investment Review Board (or certainly their chairman merchant banker, Brian Wilson) has studiously avoided analysing in any depth. Are the foreign owners just using their market power (globally and in Australia) as political lobbying muscle to increase the proportion of Australian agriculture that goes to the processor and marketer — and reduce the proportion going to growers. Some have tried and been caught-out to date. Wilmar is the most blatant in trashing decades of fair split of …

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Managing pests using IPM — and achieving high yielding cotton

Colin Jackson Cotton, Current News

WITH A WET START to the season, pests could prove to be a major challenge for cotton growers this summer, resulting in a potential – and ultimately damaging – overreliance on insecticides. As a result, CottonInfo and CRDC are partnering with leading industry experts on Integrated Pest Management (IPM), including Dr Lewis Wilson of CSIRO, to deliver a series of workshops on IPM across five cotton growing valleys – encouraging growers to consider their potential pest management strategies. The workshops have a clear message for growers: you can achieve high yielding cotton using IPM. “An overreliance on insecticides to help manage pests can have very serious consequences,” says CRDC R&D Manager, Susan Maas. “It can result in problems such as resistance, the disruption of natural pest enemies, secondary pest outbreaks, and damage to the environment. “But these issues can be avoided through the more sustainable pest control measures encouraged via IPM – and importantly, you can still achieve high yielding cotton,” Susan said. Boggabri cotton grower Andrew Watson has shown that with optimal growth rates, a healthy population of beneficial predators and a plant monitoring approach, it is possible to grow a Bt cotton crop with significantly reduced reliance on …

Backpacker turnabout an encouragement to workers from overseas

Colin Jackson Cotton, Current News, Horticulture

Horticulture, wine and fisheries to benefit from lowered backpacker tax rates THE PROPOSED 32.5 per cent tax rate that was to apply to working holiday visa holders will be reduced to 19 per cent, the Federal Government announced today. Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, said the 19 per cent rate would go a long way in continuing to attract the seasonal workforce necessary to cope with our peak labour demands. “The Government recognises the essential role played by Australia’s Working Holiday Maker programme in our workforce, particularly across our agriculture and tourism sectors,” the Senator said. “A 19 per cent tax rate will help maintain Australia’s status as a competitive destination for working holiday makers, while ensuring that they do pay their fair level of tax. Senator Ruston said that while the approaching harvest season placed particular demands on the requirements for labour in primary industries, a viable itinerant workforce provided important year-round support to many primary producers. “We’re heading into important harvest periods for cherries and berries in Tasmania, peaches and strawberries in Queensland and tomatoes and melons in Western Australia,” she said. “Rock lobsters begin in November in Western Australia, scallop-splitting in January for Tasmania …

Pakistani cotton growers to benefit from global cotton industry partnership

Colin Jackson Cotton, Current News

APPROXIMATELY 200,000 cotton farmers in Pakistan will receive vital environmental training to improve production practices this year, thanks to a new partnership between the Australian Government, Cotton Australia and the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a global organisation working towards making Better Cotton a sustainable mainstream commodity. A new aid initiative, the Australian Government’s Business Partnerships Platform, has granted $500,000 to BCI with these funds matched by global brands and then invested in training for Pakistan’s cotton farmers. Once trained and a licence issued, these farmers can sell their fibre as Better Cotton into the world market, with demand for BCI cotton growing every year thanks to the commitments of its brand members. Australia’s cotton growers apply world-leading best practices, skills and experience to their farms in Australia, and Cotton Australia will share this information with fellow cotton producers in Pakistan in a bid to improve the overall standards of global cotton production and increase the world’s sustainable cotton supply. The training will be conducted by BCI’s Pakistan partners in the regions of Punjab and Sindh in the 2017 cotton season. BCI accelerates the adoption of better crop production practices to achieve measurable positive change around issues like pesticides, water and …

Backpacker Tax review welcomed — but not yet guaranteed

Colin Jackson Cotton

Australia’s cotton industry has welcomed the announcement yesterday by the Federal Government that a contractor had been appointed to progress the review into the proposed ‘Backpacker Tax’. The measure, as originally proposed, would have taxed working holidaymakers at a rate of 32.5 cents on every dollar of income. Cotton Australia (the peak representative body for Australia’s cotton growing industry), the National Farmers’ Federation, and other agricultural groups fought the proposal before the election. Subsequently, the Federal Government announced the proposal had been shelved in favour of a review of the tax. “Cotton Australia, the NFF and our allies had argued that the proposal should be ruled-out completely, but we appreciate the Government announcing the review early in its term,” says Cotton Australia General Manager, Michael Murray. “Many cotton growers rely on backpackers and other seasonal workers to ensure production at crucial periods of the year and, unfortunately, the announcement of a review does little to guarantee certainty for growers.” “We want an assurance that the announced review will be genuinely consultative — growers will be gutted if, at the end of this process, the Backpacker Tax in its original form was simply reinstated.” Mr Murray says Cotton Australia will work …

Caroona coal decision gives cotton growers hope on other resources projects

Colin Jackson Cotton

The cotton industry has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement this week that it will buy back BHP’s licence for the Caroona coal mine on the Liverpool Plains, a move which may guide policy on other mining and coal seam gas projects affecting agriculture. The exploration licence was issued in 2006 for approximately 344 square kilometres on the prime agricultural land of the Liverpool Plains. BHP Billiton has agreed to cease progression of the Caroona Coal Project, through the cancellation of Exploration Licence (EL) 6505. BHP Billiton Minerals Australia President, Mike Henry, acknowledged the NSW Government’s willingness to come to an acceptable agreement in respect of the cancellation of EL6505. Adam Kay, CEO of Cotton Australia, the peak representative body for Australia’s cotton growing industry, said that Cotton Australia welcomes the NSW Government’s decision to buy back the Caroona licence, which is a common-sense approach to resolving the issue of land and water resource protection. “We also congratulate the local landholders who campaigned on this issue for more than a decade, and the NSW Government, on the process that brought about this result, as it demonstrates the willingness of the parties involved to negotiate in order to protect valuable agricultural land …