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Tuesday, 03 July 2018 09:32

ACCC slap for processor

Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Company Holdings Limited has altered terms in its milk supply agreements and milk supply handbook following engagement with the ACCC regarding potentially unfair contract terms.

Thursday, 28 June 2018 12:45

CSIRO grain yield app

Australian farmers can, for the first time, accurately forecast grain yield at the touch of a button, thanks to a new smart phone app developed by Australia's national science agency, CSIRO.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018 13:04

New dairy chief

PEAK dairy group Australian Dairy Farmers today welcomed DairyBio co-director Dr David Nation as the new managing director of Dairy Australia.

David Nation will succeed outgoing managing director Ian Halliday, who will soon take up an appointment as Australia’s Consul-General and Senior Trade Commissioner in Dubai.

“David has a long history with the dairy industry and I am confident he will bring extensive experience to the position,” ADF President Terry Richardson said.

“Research and development is vital to maintaining the profitability of Australian dairy farms and we look forward to David contributing to this important conversation.”

Dr Nation has for the past two years led DairyBio, a joint venture of the Victorian Government and Dairy Australia to provide five years’ investment in dairy bioscience to deliver a series of practical applications in pasture and herd improvement.

Before this, he spent six years as the chief executive of the Dairy Futures Cooperative Research Centre and five years as a program manager at Dairy Australia.

Terry Richardson acknowledged the contribution Mr Halliday made to the dairy industry over the past nine years as Dairy Australia’s managing director.

“Ian will leave behind an impressive legacy including the delivery of a globally-recognised industry sustainability framework and strengthening Dairy Australia’s regional development programs,” Richardson said.

“We’ve enjoyed working with Ian over the years and we wish him and his family all the best as they embark on this next exciting chapter.”

David Nation will start his role as DA managing director on July 30.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018 11:29

Drought aid extra

The Federal Government will extend the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) from three to four years to help the nation’s farmers with a more effective drought support.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018 10:03

Farm production lifts

The value of farm production is forecast to $61.4 billion in 2018–19, well above the 10-year average of $55 billion in real terms, according to ABARES Agricultural commodities: June quarter 2018.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018 09:59

Milk price rallies

The global farmgate milk price cycle has turned and set the tone for a more bullish market, with a Southern Australia full-year price of AUD 6.40/kgMS now within reach for 2018-19, according to Rabobank’s latest Dairy Quarterly report. 

The specialist agribusiness bank says with milk supply growth out of Europe and the US failing to meet market expectations, global farmgate milk prices have moved off the lows posted at the start of the year and are expected to move seasonally higher through the second half of 2018. 

Report author, Rabobank senior dairy analyst Michael Harvey said the rally in global commodity prices, driven by unfavourable weather which tempered milk production in the EU spring peak, and expectations for the Australian dollar to ease slightly, had fed into the bank’s upward revision to its full-year forecast of AUD6.40/kgMS for the 2018/19 Southern Australia farmgate milk commodity price. 

“Recent milk pricing announcements in a number of regions, including Australia, confirm that the price cycle has now turned in most key export regions,” he said. “While this will trigger a supply response, this response is likely to take time and be curbed somewhat by the pressure of rising feed costs on farm margins, and as such the global market is expected to remain well-balanced for the next six months.” 

Mr Harvey said while China was also set to re-enter the market in a more meaningful way, increasing their import requirements in coming months, there were some downside risks to the outlook that warranted monitoring. These were the strength of the spring production peak in New Zealand, notwithstanding the impact of Mycoplasma bovis disease, and trade war tensions between the US and Mexico, and also Canada. 

Global milk supply stalls 

The report says the combined milk supply growth across the ‘Big 7’ exporting regions has stalled, with the pace of growth below expectations throughout the northern hemisphere spring peak. 

“The spring peak in Europe didn’t do as much damage in the market as it could have done, or as many were expecting,” Mr Harvey said, “with a severe cold snap in March and a wet April impacting the availability and quality of feed.” 

Mr Harvey said output from the ‘Big 7’ increased by just 0.5 per cent (year-on-year) in the three months to June 2018, the lowest since the end of 2016. 

“Looking forward to next three months, the combined global milk supply across the major export regions is expected to grow by only 0.4 per cent,” he said, “with momentum in supply not expected to build until the start of 2019.”

Media release June 19, 2018 

Without a disruptive event, Mr Harvey said, global dairy markets would be entering a period of relative stability, with global commodity prices expected to be largely range- bound for the rest of the year. 

“But it is not all smooth sailing,” he warned, “with some real risks to the outlook. “In just the last week, we have seen the US at loggerheads with both Canada and 

Mexico, as dairy products have been caught up in the tensions with changes to tariffs. 

“We will also need to watch how production fares during New Zealand’s upcoming spring peak, given the very strong milk price signals by processors over there.” 

Mr Harvey said while New Zealand milk production was expected to increase in 2018/19, by a forecast two per cent (year-on-year), much of this growth should be absorbed by increased demand out of China, which was set to pick up in coming months. 

“Chinese import demand has slowed, but they are expected to become more active in the second-half of the year, with China heavily reliant on New Zealand product, particularlyWhole Milk Powder,” he said. 

“But it will be a watching brief in New Zealand, as the longer-term impacts of Mycoplasma bovis disease in that country are unknown.” 

The targeted cull of 126,000 cows in New Zealand (in addition to the 23,000 that have already left the sector) in an attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis disease is not expected to have a significant impact on short-term milk production, given farmers have some flexibility as to when cows are culled and it is likely many will be milked over much of the season, Mr Harvey said. However, the longer-term impacts are yet to be seen. 

“Further testing of this disease will occur over coming months, and it could result in further culling, with the discovery of a single infected cow resulting in the culling of an entire herd,” he said. 

Domestic price outlook 

Given low processor stock levels and seasonally-low milk flows, the report says, Oceania prices will remain buoyant ahead of the new season. 

“Most commodity prices are now trading between 10 and 20 per cent higher than the start of the year,” Mr Harvey said. “Notably, there are healthy premiums for Oceania- origin cheese and skim milk powder, which will be an ongoing feature – at least until the new selling seasons get underway in the southern hemisphere from August onwards.” 

Mr Harvey said despite expectations for growth in exportable surpluses out of Australia and New Zealand through their peak production period, a full-year price of AUD 6.40/kgMS was now within reach.

Monday, 18 June 2018 09:12

Weight gain boost

New research from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation has shown an inexpensive mineral supplement can have a big impact on the weight gain of cattle grazing wheat crops.

Thursday, 14 June 2018 12:24

WA crop chat

Western Australian grain growers are encouraged to help identify issues critical to the grains industry in their local area at a series of Grains Research and Development Corporation Open Forums starting in July.

Thursday, 14 June 2018 12:19

It's Ewe Time - MLA

One of the sheep industry’s most popular extension and adoption programs, It’s Ewe Time, returns in July and August, designed to increase producer awareness of the principles, practices and tools of sheep enterprise productivity and profitability.

Thursday, 14 June 2018 10:51

Ag science whiz kids gonged

Australia’s top young scientists each received the prestigious ICM Agrifood Award at the ATSE Innovation Dinner held in Melbourne on Wednesday night, recognising their contribution to the Australian agriculture and food sector. 
Dr Angela Van de Wouw and Dr Shu Kee Lam each received the Award, which was presented by Professor Lindsay Falvey from the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences on behalf of Mr Doug Shears.
“It is wonderful to see two very high calibre young scientists recognised and lauded for the wonderful research and its impact in industry,” Professor Falvey said.
“The insights delivered by their research has already led to significant practical on-farm and industry outcomes for the benefit the broader Australian agrifood industry. 
Presented by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE), one of the four Learned Academies of Australia that house the country’s top brains, the ICM Agrifood Awards is sponsored by ICM Agribusiness. The early-career Award is presented annually to the two most outstanding young Australian scientists or technologists, one male and one female, for their contribution to and achievement in a field critical to continued improvement of the overall Australian food sector.
“Initiated by a group of retired agricultural scientists, the Old Agriculture Fellows [oafs.live], the selection of winners for the Award is a scientifically rigorous and robust process, with some of Australia’s leading scientists and research elders on the selection panel. 
“We received a veritable heap of applications, showing the strength and depth of research and development being undertaken in this important sector.
“Being able to recognise the efforts of this year’s Award recipients is an absolute pleasure and a reassurance that the future of food and Australia is in good hands.”

Award recipient Dr Angela Van de Wouw

Dr Angela Van de Wouw is a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s School of Biosciences. She has published more than 36 papers and is internationally recognised as a leading expert on canola blackleg disease.
Blackleg is a fungus that almost wiped out the Australian canola industry in the 1970s. 
“Blackleg is one of the most severe canola diseases in Australia,” Dr Van de Wouw explained.
“We take a multidisciplinary approach to fighting this disease, considering genetic solutions whereby we identify resistant canola genes for breeding into improved crop varieties, and we have also developed molecular tests that can predict outbreaks.”
By taking a ‘genome to paddock’ approach, she helps prevent crop losses worth many millions of dollars every year – in an industry worth $2.5 billion to Australia, the potential benefits of her integrated technology is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars per year. 
“We work closely with breeders, researchers and the broader industry to make sure growers are armed with effective management options to protect their canola crops,” she said.
“It is important that our research delivers new insights and practical solutions to help growers control this devastating disease.”
Dr Van de Wouw’s research also played a critical role in overcoming Chinese trade restrictions, addressing fears of blackleg contamination.
“It is an honour to receive such a prestigious Award. To be recognised for my research, and the impact it is having on helping growers protect the value of this important Australian crop.”

Award recipient Dr Shu Kee Lam

Dr Shu Kee (Raymond) Lam is a research fellow at the School of Agriculture and Food at the University of Melbourne. His work addresses how future climate conditions, with elevated carbon dioxide levels, will impact soil health and the key soil-plant processed that control nitrogen supply and crop utilisation. 
“We have found that much more nitrogen will be required to sustain crop yield and protein content in high carbon dioxide environments, and as we know, the best way to achieve this is to use legumes to biologically fix nitrogen. But the gains are being lost,” Dr Lam said. 
“Depending on your soil type, applying fertilisers can undermine the beneficial effects of nitrification inhibitors, leading to increased loss of nitrogen via ammonia volatility.”
Dr Lam uses ‘big data’ – complex integrated computer modelling – to conduct meta-analysis of the effectiveness of various mitigation strategies for nitrogen loss. 
“Big data allows us to use extensive global datasets from other scientific research, industry reports and statistics for insights into novel ways to improved farm management practices.
“From this we find that we can expect to reduce fertiliser applications, increase yields and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is a win-win-win.”
Dr Lam has received multiple scientific and industry awards, and his recent paper in Global Change Biologywas selected by the European Commission (Environment) to inform 20,000 agricultural policy makers. 
His work also includes looking at the capacity for Australian farmland to sequester carbon where he has found that past figures may need revision, and has demonstrated that nitrogen use efficiency in Australian vegetable farms may be only 20 percent of what is possible. 
“It is so pleasing to receive this ICM Agrifood Award; that an august body such as the Academy of Technological Sciences has recognised the value and impact of my research. 
“It is gratifying to know that the insights it delivers can help improve farming practices and the efficient production of food in a changing climate.”

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