High-tech biosecurity hub to protect the north

Colin Jackson Current News, Dairy, Enviro-Safe, Farm-Safe, Horticulture, Livestock, Sugar

A NEW biosecurity hub to guard against foreign pests and diseases will be built in Darwin as part of an $8 million joint project by the Australian and Northern Territory Governments. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the Australian Government was delivering $3.5 million to create a cutting-edge biosecurity hub at the NT Government’s Berrimah Farm facility in Darwin, plus $500,000 to fight bluetongue virus. “The new biosecurity hub will be more than ten times the size of the current facility, and will house the latest technology in molecular diagnostics, a technique to diagnose and monitor disease and detect risk,” Minister Joyce. “This significant investment in biosecurity in the north, under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, will support faster testing of potential biosecurity threats as they emerge. This includes quickly separating local, sometimes beneficial, insects from exotic fruit flies that could devastate our horticulture exports. “It also means a more effective early warning system for destructive threats, such as new banana diseases. And it means expert rapid diagnosis of exotic diseases that could cripple Australian agriculture.” Northern Territory Minister for Primary Industry and Resources, Ken Vowles, said the improvements made possible through this joint investment, …

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Queensland irrigators welcome water efficiency funding

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

QUEENSLAND’S irrigated agriculture industries will benefit from continued productivity improvements and responsible management of water thanks to the State Government investing another $2 million in a critically important program. The 2017-18 Rural Water Use Efficiency Initiative (RWUEI) will provide grants and assistance for farmers across a number of industries to help with keeping water on-farm and also meeting natural resource management outcomes. Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) President, Stuart Armitage, welcomed the continuation of funding for RWUEI, but expressed the sector’s concern over funding uncertainty post 2017-18 with farmers being subject to increasing water-use challenges from climate change. “Queensland irrigators have been subject to and continue to implement wide-scale reform to water use that has seen structural adjustments in the irrigation sector. This has included significant capital investments by farmers and the adoption of water saving infrastructure and practices, and the importance of metering,” said Mr. Armitage. “Farmers understand the simple economic benefits that come from minimising costs, increasing efficiencies and improving productivity. “Governments must accept and acknowledge the role of irrigated agriculture in supplying food, fibre, foliage and increasingly fuel; and the income it generates, particularly in regional communities post 2017-18. “For an efficient and viable agricultural sector in Queensland …

Drink ya milk (what type) kid

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Current News, Dairy

JOHN WAYNE’S line to children about drinking milk is getting very confusing in legal and political battles. A Californian District Court has stayed a case where nut growers have applied to use the term ‘almond milk’ — increasingly popular in hipster cafes. Another case involves the use of ‘coconut milk’, although this more revolves around slave and child labour used to collect and crush the coconut pulp in India — source of most of the coconut milk and water. And Soyfoods Association has re-activated its application to the US Food and Drug Administration from 20 years ago to use and set standards for ‘soymilk’, made from soyabeans. Soymilk is the most popular of the non-cow milks and has captured the growing vegan market. Soymilk is also popular among Hindu Indians (no cow products) and Asians who believe cow milk does not agree with their shorter intestines. So, now the US National Milk Producers Federation has asked the US Congress to legislate that milk can only be used to describe the product of cows. It says that describing nut and beans liquids as ‘milk’ is “misleading consumers from the nutritional standpoint.” It says that with a global surplus of dairy products, …

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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 …

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The next generation of cow monitoring and intelligence

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Dairy

London, UK (July 4, 2017) THE ALLFLEX Group has announced the next generation of cow monitoring and intelligence with the SenseTime solution, which combines SCR’s market-leading cow monitoring technology — proven for more than 10 years on over five million cows — with Allflex’s livestock identification technology used on hundreds of millions of cows worldwide, for the most innovative solution for livestock Intelligence. Unprecedented in its approach, SenseTime offers farmers a powerful, yet exceptionally flexible and simple-to-use tool for more efficient management and more productive operations. The revolutionary cow monitoring solution delivers proven best-in-class heat detection and health insight, a choice of ear tags or neck tags, and inherent simplicity for maximized productivity SenseTime is a sophisticated, modular cow monitoring solution that delivers data-driven, actionable information on the reproductive, health, nutritional and wellbeing status of individual cows and groups, for more productive farm management and operations. Highly flexible, it is the first cow monitoring system that allows farmers to use either ear tags or neck tags, according to their preference. The cSense Flex (neck) tags are based on the SCR neck tags already in use on thousands of farms worldwide, and the eSense Flex (ear) tags are the newest and most advanced …

Another new milk brand challenges majors

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Current News, Dairy

AS THE MAJOR milk processors continue to squeeze farmers, another group has decided to go it alone with their own brand. The Cochrane family, which runs about 800 cows in the Mary Valley, plus owns cattle properties and Gympie Regional Real Estate, has negotiated a purchase of the Kenilworth Cheese Factory. This was originally a facility developed and run by Kraft Foods until it was to be closed, and was bought by a local consortium 30 years ago. It has made a name making specialty cheeses in the Mary Valley town as well as being a tourist attraction. Cochrane plan to establish a milk processing line in the facility to develop their own brand of milk, joining Eumundi and Cooloola Milk, also produced in the dairy region. John Cochrane is also chair of Premium Milk Suppliers, which is in dispute with Parmalat over milk supply contracts. The new contracts, due to start last January, are still not completed, leaving the biggest group of dairy farmers in Queensland without certainty.

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World Milk Day the opportunity to support ‘branded milk’

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Dairy

THE QUEENSLAND Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) was encouraging everyone to raise a glass of milk last Thursday to celebrate our milk and our farmers on World Milk Day — June 1, 2017. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has declared June 1 as World Milk Day since 2001, and the QDO used the occasion to celebrate the Queensland farmers who work hard to produce delicious, nutritious milk. QDO President Brian Tessmann thanked Queensland consumers for supporting our farmers by buying locally sourced branded milk all year round. “Our dairy farmers work hard seven days a week, 365 days a year to create fresh, great tasting and wholesome fresh milk that Queenslanders consumed every day.” “Dairy farmers in Queensland have been to date been heartened by how the public has rallied around local milk producers by doing what they can do best, choosing with their wallets.” “It is important that the community are aware that their choices at the checkout are making a difference to supporting the brands that support us.” “We encourage everyone to keep buying branded to support farmers from every producer as this the best way to ensure our farmers get a fair price for their product.” “Buying …

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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Fair Milk Price logo a step towards a dairy fair go

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Current News, Dairy

QUEENSLAND milk consumers are set to receive the transparency and clarity they have been calling out for if the ‘Fair Milk Price logo’ laws pass Parliament. The Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) has publicly reiterated its support for a voluntary ‘Fair Milk Price Logo’ that will help inform consumers at the check-out on which Queensland milk products directly support the state’s dairy farmers. QDO made this position known when it presented at the Queensland Agriculture and Environment Committee’s hearing into the Sustainable Queensland Dairy Production (Fair Milk Price logo) Bill 2016 at Parliament House. The hearing heard from local government, QDO, the Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF). QDO President Brian Tessmann said that the ‘Fair Milk Price Logo’ will go a long way in helping consumers distinguish between Queensland milk was produced at an ‘ethical’ and ‘fair’ price. “People are continually asking what milk they should buy to support our local dairy farmers; while QDO encourages them to ‘buy branded milk’, many want a clearer indicator right there on the bottle. “The recent I Buy Branded Milk campaign run by QDO was a success, and shows consumers are willing to support Queensland dairy …

Dairy farmers also face a ‘Wilmar’ problem

Colin Jackson Current News, Dairy

DAIRY FARMERS who supply multi-national Parmalat (better known for Paul’s milk) face the Wilmar problem — drawn-out negotiations. The farmers in the Premium Milk Supply group led by dairy farmer, John Cochrane, still do not have a contract to supply milk from last January. They, of course, are still supplying, as cows have to be milked twice daily — as Paramalat well knows. That multi-national, like Wilmar, believes they have the farmers, who can’t hold their produce and need cash flow, over a barrel. But despite being drawn-out, the negotiations go on, because Parmalat need some of the milk for its own and supermarket contracts, as much as the farmers need to dispose of their milk for money. And Parmalat also knows the ACCC and politicians are looking on closely. These watching pressures seem to be incredibly significant with multi-national negotiations. However, the dairy negotiations also show some weaknesses in the arbitration process, also started in some Wilmar cane supply districts, because they can become drawn-out. Hopefully, ACCC’s new Agriculture commissioner, Mick Keogh, is looking closely at both negotiations to figure how they might be streamlined and tilted more evenly in the farmers’ favour.

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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 …

Holy Manure — EU must shift 200,000 cows

Colin Jackson Current News, Dairy

THE NEXT THREAT to Europe’s milk and meat mountain may be manure. With most cattle, sheep and pigs raised in intensive automatic feeding sheds, the manure produced per hectare is immense. Traditionally it has been spread on paddocks, leaving some of rural areas of The Netherlands with paddocks now two metres above roads. The Netherlands, barely the size of Victoria, produces more grain, milk, flowers — and manure — than the Australian state. So the European Union, concerned about the manure mountain and its impact on air and water quality, has ordered Dutch farmers to move or kill at least 200,000 dairy cows. And that’s just the first cut. The EU says the farmers need to reduce their herds by half a million cows — a third of the Dutch milking herd. Given that here is the fourth biggest dairy producer in a Europe — and the most efficient — Dutch farmers aren’t happy. This looks like being a major issue at the forthcoming Dutch election. However, Dutch farmers would be compensated by between $3,000 and $6,000 per cow, plus around $20,000 per cow per year, for the lost income for the estimated life of the cow. That’d make a forced …

Milk up on shortages

Colin Jackson Current News, Dairy

MILK POWDER prices, the lead-in dairy pricing, rose 3.2 per cent in the latest auction by Fronterra. The New Zealand dairy exporter, the world’s largest, conducts fortnightly auctions for its milk powder, which is the leading global indicator of dairy prices. That puts prices up 50 per cent this year. The price rise us largely driven by shortages — or forecast shortages — as dairy farmers around the world react to the early 2016 price plunge by cutting back their herds. New Zealand milk production has fallen two per cent this year. This is similar to falls in Australia, Europe and North America. And the world’s biggest dairy, which is India, is facing milk production falls because of drought. Their subsequent quitting of cows has another flow-on effect — pushing down beef prices in south-east Asia as Indian dairy beef floods the market.

Dairy prices to firm into 2017

Colin Jackson Current News, Dairy

MARKET FORCES, weather and some EU subsidies are finally reducing milk supply — to the point of raising dairy prices. A Rabobank report says European farmers are finally cutting milk production after their subsidies change from supplying milk to cutting their production over the next six months (European farmers certainly know how to milk the subsidy teat!) Heavy wet weather in Australia, plus farmers worldwide cutting back in dairy have led to tightening world supplies. Except in India where dairy keeps growing, with milk demand up domestically, leading to growing export of dairy meat to third world countries. December milk powder futures in New Zealand (the world’s biggest exporter) have lifted 10 per cent in the last fortnight to $US3050/tonne. That’s led to some small increases by major Australian milk producers, Murray Goulburn and Burra. Australia’s milk production fell 9.2 per cent in August after a 10.2 percent fall in July. The floods in Victoria and Tasmania last month have cruelled the usual spring flush milk increase. European dairy production fell 1.9 percent in August, the first fall since 2013. “The milk correction is supply driven and is expected to continue well  into 2017,” Rabobank said.

Milk prices sour in dairy auction

Colin Jackson Current News, Dairy

AFTER A 30 per cent rise since July, milk prices have fallen back in Fronterra’s Global Dairy Trade Auction. The New Zealand dairy giant holds regular auctions of a range of dairy exports that are influential on world and domestic prices. The GDT price rose 30 per cent over the last two monthly auctions, leading to milk price rises for New Zealand and Victorian dairy farmers above the crucial 50 cent per litre milk price (subject to lots of conditions on butter fat and seasonal supply quotas, etc). But yesterday’s auction led to a three per cent price drop. Dairy exports are so important to New Zealand that it led to a drop in the NZ dollar against the greenback. Whether this leads to a milk price drop to dairy farmers is yet to be decided by the boards of Fronterra, Murray Goulburn and major dairy exporters which have, over the past year, been more prepared to protect their profit margins than dairy farmer income.

Whole milk powder prices surge

Colin Jackson Dairy

Prices at the GlobalDairyTrade auction surged — led by whole milk powder — helped by a cut to offers from Fonterra, New Zealand’s largest milk co-op. The latest GDT auction, which is operated by New Zealand milk giant Fonterra, showed prices overall up by 12.7 per cent from the last auction, held two weeks ago. Whole milk powder prices rose by 18.9 per cent over the same period. Physical leads futures The rise in physical whole milk powder prices followed on from a strong gain on the New Zealand futures markets. But the physical rally exceeds expectations, breaking a trend where commodity milk buyers have proved to be less bullish than speculators on the futures exchanged. Ahead of the auction, Tobin Gorey at the CBA, noted that Fonterra trimmed the amount of whole milk powder it will offer over the next 12 months by some 1.8 per cent. Mr Gorey said this “should provide some additional support to prices.” Whole milk powder leads rally  Whole milk powder has been outperforming skimmed milk powder over the past three auctions, bringing the premium of whole milk powder to $667 a tonne. This is the highest premium of whole milk powder to skimmed …