Australian farmers feeling the most confident about the future

Monday, June 06, 2011

Food and agribusiness bank, Rabobank Australia, released its quarterly rural confidence survey which questioned about 1200 farmers across Australia and found that confidence had moderated compared to the prior quarter, but was at the highest level recorded for the second quarter since 2001.

Farmers were buoyed by favourable commodity prices and good autumn rains, with 42 per cent expecting conditions to improve in the coming year, compared to 48 per cent in the prior quarter.

Many farmers had received abundant summer rain and a top-up in autumn, which was good for the start of the winter cropping season, and prices for beef, sheep, and grain were relatively firm given strong demand and short supply.



MLA board seeks directors

Monday, June 06, 2011

Meat and Livestock Australia is seeking three independent directors to its board.

Experience and industry knowledge in on- and off-farm production, research and development and marketing are a must.

Additionally, the successful candidates will ideally have experience in corporate governance and strategy development and a background in northern beef production or sheepmeat production.

Applications close June 10.

For more information, please go to:  http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2011/05/26/335621_opinion-columnists.html

 



DNA tests quality of live sheep

Monday, June 06, 2011

Australian scientists are confident they can now tell the eating quality of a lamb while the animal is still alive.

In fact they are confident that such epicurean qualities can now be determined at the point of birth.

It is as simple as taking a DNA sample from a lamb and using the latest in genetic analysis - the SNP or single nucleotide polymorphisms - to determine a lamb's propensity to produce intra-muscular fat and a loin muscle with a low shear force.

Both measures, following extensive local research at Western Australia's Murdoch University and the Sheep Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), are critical indicators of a lamb's eating quality.

Last week the Sheep CRC released details of these quality traits along with four other lamb carcass traits that can be identified with DNA SNP analysis.

The other traits were for lean meat yields, carcass weight, eye muscle and fat depths.

Sheep CRC chief executive Dr James Rowe said the analyses were still in the research phase though there was already one year of on-farm testing with another season of pilot trials scheduled for this year.

While the carcass weight and eye muscle and fat depth have been measured and reported as Lambplan breeding values for several decades, Dr Rowe said the DNA analysis would improve the accuracy of the traits.

"But the beauty of the DNA analysis for the lean meat yield, intra-muscular fat and shear force traits was that they were hard-to-measure traits, which, until now, could only be assessed on a processed animal or through extensive consumer evaluation," Dr Rowe said.

He was also confident the release of the carcass traits would be timely to prevent the prime lamb industry damaging its eating quality reputation through any pre-occupation with growth rates and lean meat yield.

Validation of the DNA analysis for carcass traits is part of the Sheep CRC seven-year Information Nucleus program, where the progeny of research flocks of Merino, and terminal and maternal breeds have been extensively evaluated and analysed for an exhaustive array of wool, carcass, growth and animal health traits.

The release of the carcass traits last week followed the release earlier this year of several wool traits.

Dr Rowe envisaged that once the DNA SNP analysis was commercially available, stud breeders would be paying between $50-$100 for a once-off analysis of traits.

Dr Rowe said the analyses would be combined and reported with the existing sheep breeding values, currently administered by Sheep Genetics.   



MLA's eat meat campaign

Monday, June 06, 2011

Food envy — there is nothing worse. And,  just in case you're not sure what it is, watch Meat and Livestock Australia's latest television commercial in its "Nothing Beats Beef" campaign. The commercial - which went to air this week - shows a couple in a cosy restaurant on a chilly winter's night. He orders the beef curry. She orders the salad.The plates arrive, one steamy and succulent and the other a pile of lettuce.  And there you have it — food envy!

MLA general marketing manager Glen Feist said the latest campaign was designed to drive beef demand during winter.

"Australians crave hearty, warming slow cooked meals such as beef casseroles, curries, pies and beef roasts in winter," Mr Feist said. "This phase of the campaign aims to remind them of their love for these tasty, value for money beef meals as the weather cools."

The campaign includes radio promotions, television segments and competitions



Live export ban bill

Monday, June 06, 2011

Independant MP Andrew Wilkie wants to ban all live exports within three years.

The Tasmanian independent will meet with Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig this afternoon to outline his private member’s bill to immediately ban cattle exports to Indonesia and a three-year phrase out plan for all live trade.



Hi-Fert collapse won't affect supplies

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Elders and Landmark - the two joint venture shareholders in the now-worthless fertiliser importer and manufacturer, Hi-Fert - say farmers won't be left short changed by the business' financial collapse. The two big farm supply networks intend to keep sourcing Hi-Fert fertiliser and remain solid customers of the company as its future ownership options, including a possible break up, are considered by receivers.

Hi-Fert was put into administration last week after its bankers declined an offer from Landmark's new parent company, Canadian fertiliser giant, Agrium, to take over the independently operated business, its 102 staff and its (undisclosed) debt.

Elders chief executive officer, Malcolm Jackman, believed Hi-Fert's administrators would achieve a "fairly speedy outcome" for the company, given other newly established competitors in the local market may be keen to buy part or all Hi-Fert's eastern States assets and market ties. Landmark managing director, Richard Norton said his farm supplies network would be working with all its various fertiliser suppliers, including Hi-Fert, to make sure farmers had the products they needed.

Hi-Fert administrators have allowed trucks to be loaded for dispatch to Landmark and Elders clients for immediate supply.

Landmark orders represent up to 25pc of Hi-Fert's business, while Elders clients have taken about 15 to 20pc in recent years. The bulk of the client base has been to independent resellers.

Mr Norton said although a significant portion of fertiliser needed for the 2011 grain cropping season had already been supplied to customers, large supplies were currently on hand, or in transit to Australia, as most product was ordered three months in advance.  "From our perspective it is business as usual at Landmark with fertiliser requirements," he said.

"There are numerous suppliers to the Australian market and we'll work with all suppliers to ensure our customers have the products they need."

However, he said it was disappointing the major player in Australian market had not been able to stay solvent and a competitive player may now be absorbed by other big fertiliser companies.

For more information, please go to:  http://fw.farmonline.com.au/news/nationalrural/agribusiness-and-general/finance/hifert-collapse-wont-affect-supplies/2182135.aspx




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