Filing from the front

Hugh Stevenson Roberton – or “Peter Snodgrass”.
Nanjing Night Net

HUGH Stevenson Roberton is arguably the most remarkable person who has written for The Land – a farmer and farm leader, columnist, author, soldier, Menzies government minister and Australia’s first ambassador to Ireland.

And for most of his stellar career he kept writing his fortnightly articles for The Land under the pseudonym “Peter Snodgrass”, the name of a character in a play written by his father, Sir Hugh Roberton, a famous Scottish choral music composer and conductor.

Roberton had carried his Hermes typewriter in a metal box during his stint as an anti-tank gunner with the 9th Division in the Middle East during the Second World War so he could keep writing his columns for The Land.

His commanding officer turned a blind eye when he tossed away his gas mask and spare pair of boots so he could carry his typewriter, nor did he ever have any problems with wartime censors.

* Read more about some of The Land’s legendary columnists in our 100-page Centenary liftout free inside the January 27 issue.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Dairy despair at Coles cut

THE Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) has hit out at the decision by supermarket giant Coles to cut the price of its ‘supermarket brand’ milk, warning that the move will place significant financial strain and pressure on already stressed farming families.
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Earlier today, Coles announced that it would be taking advantage of the earnings downturn faced by rival Woolworths to launch a heavily discounted milk offer to tempt shoppers into its supermarkets.

QDO President Brian Tessmann said dairy farmers across the country woke this morning to the unpleasant news, and said that milk prices are under unsustainable downward pressure from the retailers.

Coles will terminate its Smart Buy milk brand and reduce the price of its house brand milk to become its new flagship offering.

The price of a Coles brand two-litre carton of lite milk will come down to $2, a 33 per cent discount in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Coles full-cream milk will also be cut down to $2.

“We are now facing the bleak prospect of retail milk prices reaching a point that is unsustainable for the milk value chain. This will flow back through the processing sector and ultimately to farmers,” said Mr Tessmann.

“It is kicking family farmers when they are down. This is happening at a time when the industry is battling the devastation of the massive Queensland floods.

“These floods are taking a heavy financial and emotional toll on farmers, and for Coles to give farmers this announcement on Australia Day is cruel and insensitive. We want our farmers to have confidence in the future and to be rebuilding their businesses after the flood,” said Mr Tessman.

The QDO said that what is ultimately a publicity ploy from Coles will mean farmers will ultimately be paying for the advertising bill.

Mr Tessman said that Coles’ assertion that the price drop would not affect milk processors and dairy farmers was simply wrong.

“We know from a recent Senate Inquiry that the growing trend toward supermarket brand milk is putting a squeeze on the value chain and ultimately the farmer. This price drop will increase the price difference between large retailer ‘supermarket brand’ milk and milk processor branded milk. So of course shoppers will opt for supermarket brand milk and, with that, lower returns go to processors and that will flow on to the farm gate.

“We know that already the price differential between supermarket-brand and branded milk sucks about $90 million from the value chain in Queensland alone every year,” said Mr Tessman.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Swan opts to fight states, not the miners

Wayne Swan.This time last year, Wayne Swan had spent his holidays reading a top-secret copy of the Henry review, which urged a 40 per cent tax on the mining industry.
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A year on, with one prime minister removed after taking on the miners, the Treasurer’s holiday reading was a far cry from Dr Henry’s tome.

Shortly before Christmas, the former BHP chairman Don Argus handed Swan a report outlining the much watered-down resource rent tax, which has been welcomed by the big miners.

But although he now has much of the industry on side, Swan’s quest to extract more tax from the mining industry is far from over.

After what he admits was a ”bruising” encounter with mining heavyweights in 2010, Swan has effectively swapped a fight with the miners for a stoush with the states.

He is now pleading with Queensland and Western Australia to cap future mining royalties to keep the industry competitive – and the states are having none of it.

Swan’s decision to take on the states raises questions about just how powerful the mining heavyweights have become, with the industry expected to resume hostilities if the government cannot get the states on side.

Making matters more complex, Swan’s showdown with the states comes amid growing evidence Australia should be saving more of the proceeds from the once-in-a-century resources bonanza.

In the turbulent weeks after Julia Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd, quelling the mining industry’s anger was a top priority in Canberra.

She largely achieved this in early July, signing a breakthrough agreement with the big three – BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata – to soften the tax considerably.

Rather than the 40 per cent tax proposed by Henry, it was agreed miners would pay effective tax rates of 22.5 per cent and enjoy generous deductions. Miners called off their anti-government ad campaign, and restarted work on shelved projects worth billions to the economy.

But although Gillard’s deal with the miners was hailed as a smart political move at the time, it now looks like a temporary solution.

In the secret July negotiations, the boss of BHP, Marius Kloppers, insisted that all state royalties – including future increases – would be refunded by the federal government.

Canberra later hinted it might not credit all future royalties because this would amount to writing states a blank cheque, but Argus’s report affirmed that all future royalties should be refunded.

Swan is widely expected to adopt this recommendation, and has already called on states to promise they won’t increase royalties.

However, the request has been met with vocal opposition from the premiers of Queensland and Western Australia, setting the scene for heated negotiations this year.

The floods – expected to slash Queensland’s royalty revenue – add another layer of complexity. Nevertheless, Swan has elected to fight the states rather than risk provoking the miners. His willingness to do so raises questions about just how powerful the mining industry has become.

The opposition’s spokesman on mining, Ian Macfarlane, says it is now clear the government rushed to sign a deal without fully understanding the consequences. While he opposes the tax in principle, Macfarlane also recognises the power the Big Three held over government.

”I suspect that the government has got itself so far in that they will have to bow down to the mining companies. They got skinned and that’s a fact,” he says.

”The mining companies have achieved the effective abolition of state royalties.” Macfarlane doesn’t blame the miners for this – instead pointing the finger at Canberra’s failure to consult with the industry and states before it announced the original 40 per cent tax.

On the government’s side, the Labor senator Doug Cameron is even more frank about how miners have thrown their weight around this year. ”I think the behaviour of the miners is the most overt case of big business using their power and privileged place in society to protect their own individual interests,” Cameron says.

”This is going to be something that is debated for many years, in relation to how you can ensure the national interest is placed before the interests of mega-rich mining magnates.” More sympathetic observers, however, say the miners were able to make a convincing argument against paying more tax because the public identified with the industry.

A former head of the Minerals Council, David Buckingham, says miners benefited from a perception that the industry had been an important factor in Australia weathering the global financial crisis. Over the previous decade, he says, the industry had also remade its public image around its handling of environmental and Aboriginal issues.

”There’s been an evolution in the position of the industry. I don’t think it’s simply been a case of a big ugly industry using its muscle,” says Buckingham, who supported the concept of a super profits tax.

Whatever the reasons for the government’s backdown, the miners’ strong influence over government will linger.

If Canberra cannot reach a deal with the states, miners have made it clear they will consider restarting their campaign of destabilisation.

In the weeks before Christmas, the boss of Xstrata Coal, Peter Freyberg, repeated his warning that the company would review $20 billion in planned projects if the government failed to refund all royalties.

Indeed, some official sources suggest the mining companies are deliberately seeking to exploit the government’s razor-thin majority in the lower house in anticipation of the debate heating up.

Small miners – who remain deeply opposed to the tax – would only need to convince a few rural independents to oppose the tax to defeat it. Coalition senators are now leading an inquiry which has aired small miners’ concerns, and is scrutinising the government’s deal with the big three.

In spite of this tension between the government and smaller miners over the tax, there is growing economic evidence that now is the right time for a meaningful resource rent tax. In November, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said the government’s mining tax was too narrow – and it should tax more products than iron ore, coal and gas.

While it supported the tax overall, the OECD said this focus on only parts of the resources sector could distort investment and would hurt its ability to raise revenue.

The governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens, has also reminded the government that with a once-in-a-century mining boom gathering pace, now could be a good time to increase public sector saving.

In a November speech, he suggested a ”stabilisation fund” that could offset some of the volatility of a commodities boom led by China and India. Stevens didn’t mention the mining tax – but it’s increasingly clear the watered-down MRRT won’t be taking much heat out of the mining boom.

An economist at the Grattan Institute, Saul Eslake, is blunt when asked if the tax could help deal with some of the challenges of the two-speed economy. ”No, because it was not intended to, and now it would seem there are so few companies that are going to pay it,” Eslake says.

Even among companies which will pay the tax – it only applies to those earning more than $50 million a year – there are doubts it will raise the revenue Canberra claims.

According to official estimates, it will raise $7.4 billion, down from the previous $10.5 billion predicted before the election and $12 billion under Rudd’s super profits tax.

The government says the latest revision was driven by the strong Australian dollar, but analysts say the forecast was more likely slashed after officials consulted with companies about how the tax would be paid in practice.

And with each downgrade in how much revenue it will raise, the government is also pushing the friendship with the Greens, needed to pass it through the Senate in 2011.

The Greens leader, Bob Brown, sent the government a reminder in late December that his support is not guaranteed. He described the tax as a ”patched-up deal between the government and the mining barons”. He prefers the 40 per cent tax favoured by Rudd, and it is not clear whether he will support the mineral resource rent tax.

Cobbling together support from Brown, miners and the premiers of mining boom states won’t be easy. But this is the task facing Swan if he is to make the mining tax a reality.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Con declares Summer Stonefruit Day

Con the Fruiterer.Con “The Fruiterer” Dikaletis reckons “ah cuppla days? does matter and he wants to gift his adopted homeland a special day of celebration to extend Australia Day commemorations.
Nanjing Night Net

The iconic character from the 1990s hit comedy series The Comedy Company has declared January 25th “Summer Stonefruit Day” in an impassioned address via YouTube.

A huge fan of the summer stonefruit quartet – nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots – Con believes Australia would be a better place if we lost ourselves in the joy of eating his favourite fruits.

“Life is often not fair,” Con said. “Like turning right on the yellow when you waitin’, waitin’, waitin’ for the oncoming cars to notice the light he’s yellow, but I’m the one what gets booked!

“But as long as you are eating these dribblicious, sexy summer stonefruits you is not paying petrol tax on a tax, worrying about getting booked or thinking about what’s wrong… because you too busy thinking about what’s right.

“That’s why we need a special national day of appreciation for summer stonefruit. I was thinking Tuesday – like, every Tuesday – but then I thought it should be the day before Australia’s birthday because it’s like the present you get the day before and it makes you excited because you know it’s there and you get reminded about why it’s great to have a birthday.”

Con, the alter ego of renowned comedian Mark Mitchell, reckons all Aussies should devour summer stonefruit on Summer Stonefruit Day, as long as they embrace the appropriate kit.

“Paper bibs, the kind you wear when eating spare ribs, should become standard for all patriotic Australians to protect their bewdiful singlets and footy jumpers.

“So, here’s to our great summer stonefruit, available tax free, right now. And here’s to January 25th – Australia Summer Stonefruit Day! Get a bit of Dribbilicious into ya!”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Con declares Summer Stonefruit Day

Con the Fruiterer.Con “The Fruiterer” Dikaletis reckons “ah cuppla days‟ does matter and he wants to gift his adopted homeland a special day of celebration to extend Australia Day commemorations.
Nanjing Night Net

The iconic character from the 1990s hit comedy series The Comedy Company has declared January 25th “Summer Stonefruit Day” in an impassioned address via YouTube.

A huge fan of the summer stonefruit quartet – nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots – Con believes Australia would be a better place if we lost ourselves in the joy of eating his favourite fruits.

“Life is often not fair,” Con said. “Like turning right on the yellow when you waitin’, waitin’, waitin’ for the oncoming cars to notice the light he’s yellow, but I’m the one what gets booked!

“But as long as you are eating these dribblicious, sexy summer stonefruits you is not paying petrol tax on a tax, worrying about getting booked or thinking about what’s wrong… because you too busy thinking about what’s right.

“That’s why we need a special national day of appreciation for summer stonefruit. I was thinking Tuesday – like, every Tuesday – but then I thought it should be the day before Australia’s birthday because it’s like the present you get the day before and it makes you excited because you know it’s there and you get reminded about why it’s great to have a birthday.”

Con, the alter ego of renowned comedian Mark Mitchell, reckons all Aussies should devour summer stonefruit on Summer Stonefruit Day, as long as they embrace the appropriate kit.

“Paper bibs, the kind you wear when eating spare ribs, should become standard for all patriotic Australians to protect their bewdiful singlets and footy jumpers.

“So, here’s to our great summer stonefruit, available tax free, right now. And here’s to January 25th – Australia Summer Stonefruit Day! Get a bit of Dribbilicious into ya!”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Con declares Summer Stonefruit Day

Con the Fruiterer.Con “The Fruiterer” Dikaletis reckons “ah cuppla days‟ does matter and he wants to gift his adopted homeland a special day of celebration to extend Australia Day commemorations.
Nanjing Night Net

The iconic character from the 1990s hit comedy series The Comedy Company has declared January 25th “Summer Stonefruit Day” in an impassioned address via YouTube.

A huge fan of the summer stonefruit quartet – nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots – Con believes Australia would be a better place if we lost ourselves in the joy of eating his favourite fruits.

“Life is often not fair,” Con said. “Like turning right on the yellow when you waitin’, waitin’, waitin’ for the oncoming cars to notice the light he’s yellow, but I’m the one what gets booked!

“But as long as you are eating these dribblicious, sexy summer stonefruits you is not paying petrol tax on a tax, worrying about getting booked or thinking about what’s wrong… because you too busy thinking about what’s right.

“That’s why we need a special national day of appreciation for summer stonefruit. I was thinking Tuesday – like, every Tuesday – but then I thought it should be the day before Australia’s birthday because it’s like the present you get the day before and it makes you excited because you know it’s there and you get reminded about why it’s great to have a birthday.”

Con, the alter ego of renowned comedian Mark Mitchell, reckons all Aussies should devour summer stonefruit on Summer Stonefruit Day, as long as they embrace the appropriate kit.

“Paper bibs, the kind you wear when eating spare ribs, should become standard for all patriotic Australians to protect their bewdiful singlets and footy jumpers.

“So, here’s to our great summer stonefruit, available tax free, right now. And here’s to January 25th – Australia Summer Stonefruit Day! Get a bit of Dribbilicious into ya!”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Con declares Summer Stonefruit Day

Con the Fruiterer.Con “The Fruiterer” Dikaletis reckons “ah cuppla days‟ does matter and he wants to gift his adopted homeland a special day of celebration to extend Australia Day commemorations.
Nanjing Night Net

The iconic character from the 1990s hit comedy series The Comedy Company has declared January 25th “Summer Stonefruit Day” in an impassioned address via YouTube.

A huge fan of the summer stonefruit quartet – nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots – Con believes Australia would be a better place if we lost ourselves in the joy of eating his favourite fruits.

“Life is often not fair,” Con said. “Like turning right on the yellow when you waitin’, waitin’, waitin’ for the oncoming cars to notice the light he’s yellow, but I’m the one what gets booked!

“But as long as you are eating these dribblicious, sexy summer stonefruits you is not paying petrol tax on a tax, worrying about getting booked or thinking about what’s wrong… because you too busy thinking about what’s right.

“That’s why we need a special national day of appreciation for summer stonefruit. I was thinking Tuesday – like, every Tuesday – but then I thought it should be the day before Australia’s birthday because it’s like the present you get the day before and it makes you excited because you know it’s there and you get reminded about why it’s great to have a birthday.”

Con, the alter ego of renowned comedian Mark Mitchell, reckons all Aussies should devour summer stonefruit on Summer Stonefruit Day, as long as they embrace the appropriate kit.

“Paper bibs, the kind you wear when eating spare ribs, should become standard for all patriotic Australians to protect their bewdiful singlets and footy jumpers.

“So, here’s to our great summer stonefruit, available tax free, right now. And here’s to January 25th – Australia Summer Stonefruit Day! Get a bit of Dribbilicious into ya!”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Con declares Summer Stonefruit Day

Con the Fruiterer.Con “The Fruiterer” Dikaletis reckons “ah cuppla days‟ does matter and he wants to gift his adopted homeland a special day of celebration to extend Australia Day commemorations.
Nanjing Night Net

The iconic character from the 1990s hit comedy series The Comedy Company has declared January 25th “Summer Stonefruit Day” in an impassioned address via YouTube.

A huge fan of the summer stonefruit quartet – nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots – Con believes Australia would be a better place if we lost ourselves in the joy of eating his favourite fruits.

“Life is often not fair,” Con said. “Like turning right on the yellow when you waitin’, waitin’, waitin’ for the oncoming cars to notice the light he’s yellow, but I’m the one what gets booked!

“But as long as you are eating these dribblicious, sexy summer stonefruits you is not paying petrol tax on a tax, worrying about getting booked or thinking about what’s wrong… because you too busy thinking about what’s right.

“That’s why we need a special national day of appreciation for summer stonefruit. I was thinking Tuesday – like, every Tuesday – but then I thought it should be the day before Australia’s birthday because it’s like the present you get the day before and it makes you excited because you know it’s there and you get reminded about why it’s great to have a birthday.”

Con, the alter ego of renowned comedian Mark Mitchell, reckons all Aussies should devour summer stonefruit on Summer Stonefruit Day, as long as they embrace the appropriate kit.

“Paper bibs, the kind you wear when eating spare ribs, should become standard for all patriotic Australians to protect their bewdiful singlets and footy jumpers.

“So, here’s to our great summer stonefruit, available tax free, right now. And here’s to January 25th – Australia Summer Stonefruit Day! Get a bit of Dribbilicious into ya!”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Damned if they do: the LNP’s water problem

The Queensland opposition’s call for less of Wivenhoe Dam to be used as a flood buffer last year could come back to bite it, a political expert says.
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The dam’s operation is now in the spotlight, with a commission of inquiry set to investigate whether this month’s Brisbane River flooding was made worse because the government-owned dam operator initially acted too slowly to release excess water.

However, in March, October and December, the opposition called on authorities to look at reducing the portion of dam capacity set aside for flood protection so that more could be used for drinking water storage.

Wivenhoe Dam can hold a total of 2.6 million megalitres but is deemed to be “full” of drinking water when it reaches 1.15 million megalitres.

The remaining space is used to store water from heavy rain events in a bid to reduce floods along the Brisbane River.

When the dam was at 94 per cent of its water storage capacity last March, opposition water spokesman Jeff Seeney told State Parliament “it would be absurd to release water from Wivenhoe Dam” until authorities reviewed options to increase water storage.

In October, Mr Seeney criticised the state government over releases of water from the dam, saying they were being done at a time when the dam was only at 40 per cent of its “true capacity”.

“Isn’t this release of water from Wivenhoe Dam, when it is holding only 40 per cent of its available storage capacity, a clear indication that the government has learned nothing from the water crisis and is still failing to plan for the next inevitable drought?” he asked Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson.

Deputy Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg repeated the call as recently as December 20, when he told Fairfax Radio 4BC it would be sensible to “start looking at things like can we actually eat into the flood buffer a little bit more”.

“And indeed, if we could store 50 per cent rather than 40 per cent before we let it spill, that’s an additional one year supply,” Mr Springborg said at the time.

“There’s still a lot of air room in Wivenhoe Dam that we could potentially capture some further water.”

Some engineers now believe government-owned dam operator Seqwater should have acted faster to release more water after Wivenhoe rapidly rose well beyond its full water storage level on the weekend before the Brisbane River flood peak.

Seqwater figures show the dam level rose from 106 per cent of its normal water storage limit on the morning of Friday, January 7, to 148 per cent by the following Monday.

The Bureau of Meteorology had predicted further heavy rainfall. The dam operators had to ramp up the scale of their major water releases from the dam in the days before the January 13 Brisbane River flood peak.

Queensland University of Technology political science professor Clive Bean said the opposition may find it hard to attack the government for being too slow to bring the dam back down towards its normal level, given previous comments.

“It may well be that the opposition will find it more difficult to make their criticism stick when they were making comments like that in a previous time, unless they can in a sense sheet it back to: ‘we were talking about specific circumstances,’” Dr Bean said.

“It’s probably one of those things that will come back to bite them a little bit but probably not totally.

“Politicians often find a way out of statements they’ve made; in a way it’s easier for an opposition to make statements off the cuff and qualify them later.”

Mr Seeney said yesterday his central point had been that a review of the dam operating rules was needed “to get better usage of the infrastructure”.

He said he had stressed at the time that flood mitigation remained important and stood by his call for a re-examination of the dam operating rules.

“We were calling for a review of the operating rules that had been in place almost unchanged since 1978 that took no account of the advances that had been made in weather forecasts and climate patterns,” he said.

“That need for a review applies just as much to the flood mitigation rules of the dam as it does to the water supply rules of the dam.”

Following the Brisbane River flood, Seqwater emphasised it had operated the dam according to the state government-approved manual.

However, Mr Seeney said the rules were “restrictive” and should have been reviewed sooner.

Independent Member for Burnett Rob Messenger, who quit the Liberal National Party last year, accused his former party of making a “serious water policy mistake”.

The state government last week released the Wivenhoe Dam operating manual but blacked out large portions, claiming terrorists might take advantage of an uncensored version.

The Queensland Water Commission last year identified a range of potential water sources for further investigation, including more desalination sites and use of recycled water to top up the Hinze and North Pine dams.

It outlined four options to secure more water from dams and weirs in the future, including the possibility of raising Wivenhoe Dam operating levels.

The dam’s operation will be among issues examined by a statewide commission of inquiry on the floods, which is due to produce an initial report by August and a final report by January next year.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Wheat market stronger: AWB

AWB’s 2010/11 season estimated pool returns (EPRs) are higher for most grades this week, reflecting a firmer international market and a slightly weaker Australian dollar.
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AWB’s estimated pool return (EPR) for benchmark APW wheat in the eastern pool is up $5 to $365 a tonne, while FED1 is up $6 to $277 a tonne and stockfeed SFW1 is up $6 to $285 a tonne. In AWB’s western pool APW wheat is up $5 to $377 a tonne and ANW1 noodle wheat is unchanged at $510 a tonne (FOB, excl GST).

AWB General Manager Commodities, Mitch Morison, said the improvement in EPRs was demand-driven, as the international market shows increased sales activity in a world where wheat stocks are relatively tight.

“The market was subdued through the Christmas period, but we are definitely seeing more buying activity now for grain from the European Union and the United States; indeed last week the USDA reported US sales of over one million tonnes for just one week,” he said.

“It is many months yet until the next northern hemisphere harvest and buyers are aware that world stocks are tight, particularly for good quality milling grain, so they must secure supplies or cope with the potential for even higher prices.

“Australia is gaining its share of customer interest and with the current frenzy of activity we have senior AWB representatives visiting Asian customers to help build on demand for all wheat grades, working with customers to help them understand the supply picture from Australia this year.

“In the feed wheat market there is good business occurring, as we had predicted, with Australian feed wheat continuing to displace corn into Asian feed markets.

“Without question buyers are keen to secure supply from Australia and our pools are gaining benefit from these opportunities.

“This week AWB will be making a $39 million top-up payment to growers who utilised AWB’s harvest finance for their 2010/11 wheat pool deliveries.

“It will mean that AWB harvest finance clients will have received (or have available) payments representing around 80% of the current estimated pool return (EPR) for 2010/11 season wheat,” Mr Morison said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Steers hit 260c/kg as supply wanes

Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) export manager Paul Keenan.PRICES as high as 260 cents a kilogram liveweight are being paid for cattle as intense competition from the live export sector and supply concerns heat up WA’s cattle market.
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Both Wellard and Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) are currently sourcing cattle to fill boats leaving in the next month, bound for Indonesia, Turkey, Israel and the Middle East.

While neither exporter would confirm they were paying prices as high as 260c/kg, they did admit that they were paying record prices to secure supply.

At the Landmark Boyanup cattle sale earlier this month, a line of 228kg Angus steers hit a top of 260c/kg in an absolutely red hot sale. Long-time Farm Weekly markets reporter Rob Francis said it was the hottest sale he had ever witnessed.

Wellard managing director Steve Meerwald said 260c/kg was not their official price and was above their schedule but the prices they were paying were up there with the highest they had seen.

Mr Meerwald said they were paying the market price, which was favourable as a reflection of the competition in the market place.

“I suspect that there is some manoeuvring being done by a whole range of parties to try to secure supply,” Mr Meerwald said.

“I’ve certainly had no-one come to me and say they need more money.

“There is a relatively strong and competitive market due to the short supply and as we’ve seen before with sheep, there are official prices and unofficial prices.

“While it’s tough to be having to pay these sorts of prices, particularly with the dollar at parity or thereabouts, I think it’s a great story for producers and a confidence builder relative to having multiple outlets and competition for their product.

“It generally indicates the strength of the protein markets around the world and the impact we hope that they’ll have on Australian producers for many years to come, in terms of a consistent demand for quality products from Australia.”

Mr Meerwald said they were loading for a shipment to Indonesia due out at the end of the month, as well as one to Turkey and possibly another bound for the Middle East.

He said they were sourcing bos Indicus heifers and steers under 350kg for Indonesia, feeder and slaughter bos Taurus cattle for Turkey and heavier bos Indicus cattle for the Middle East.

Due to the short supply, Mr Meerwald said they were buying in the Eastern States as well as WA and as a result would be doing split-port loadings.

“What we can get from here, we’ll get from here and what we can’t, we’ll balance that up from the east,” he said.

“Most of the supply for the Turkish shipment will come from the east and we’ll put on here what we can get within our budget.

“We’ll source from on-farm and where appropriate, we’ll get some of the later cattle from the saleyards but they still have to comply with the import country’s protocols so that does provide some challenges with saleyard cattle.”

LSS export manager Paul Keenan said the company was paying record prices to secure cattle for shipments to Turkey and Israel.

“The company is paying record prices but we believe it’s very good for producers and the cattle industry in general,” Mr Keenan said.

“If producers have any cattle under 320kg for sale, we’d urge them to contact their agent or one of our buyers.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Extra water too late for some farmers

Dairy farmer Dale Hanks said he would be at the auction and would look at buying another 100MG but only if the price was reasonable.
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WITH nearly a third of South West irrigation farmers registered to buy water missing out at Harvey Water’s November auction, strong demand and prices are expected at a second auction to be held next month.

But many farmers are unhappy that it has taken so long for the extra allocation to be put up for auction.

Last week Harvey Water and the Water Corporation announced that an additional 2.2GL from Logue Brook Dam would be auctioned on February 8.

The decision was welcomed by Water Minister Bill Marmion, who said South West irrigation dams had received little inflow since the first auction of 5.3GL in November.

“It makes sense for the water to be available this summer rather than just leaving it sitting unused in Logue Brook,” Mr Marmion said.

With Harvey and Waroona irrigation farmers facing summer allocations of around 34 per cent of their full water entitlements, strong bidding at the November auction pushed prices to record levels, with some producers paying up to $300 a megalitre for water.

Harvey Water’s Geoff Calder said dairy farmers had been against the split auction but they were very happy now that more water was being made available.

“With closing prices for the last lots of water sold at the November auction as strong as the first, indicating there was still unmet demand from South West irrigators, we do expect demand and prices to be strong again this time,” Mr Calder said.

Just 57 of the 81 registered buyers were able to secure water at the November auction of 5.3GL, with many unhappy with then Water Minister Dr Graham Jacobs’ decision to hold back the remaining 2.2GL of the 7.5GL initially set aside for irrigation farmers.

“I think the smarter ones paid the money they needed to pay in November and this will be a mop-up for those who weren’t as bullish or aggressive (in bidding),” Mr Calder said.

“That is in the past now and at least that water is available now and we will move forward from here.”

Mr Calder said he did not expect numbers at the coming auction to be as high as the last one, which at around 100 was “a world record” for them.

Yarloop dairy farmer Tony Ferraro, who spent $54,000 buying 223 useable megalitres at the November auction, said he would not be attending next month’s auction.

“Had they put all the water up at the one time, the price wouldn’t have gone up so much and we could have all made decisions when they needed to be made,” Mr Ferraro said.

“February is just too late for us.

“What’s the good of me buying water now that I have dried the land out.

“There was no guarantee back in November that there would be any more water made available, so we had to make a decision on the day and we bought enough to keep us going.”

Around 21mm of rain early in January had “saved a few day’s watering” but was not a major gain.

West of Harvey, dairy farmer Dale Hanks said he would be at the auction and would look at buying another 100MG but only if the price was reasonable.

“Sixty eight dollars a share was ridiculous, if it is around about $40 a share, I will probably look at it,” Mr Hanks said.

“I have got other options in place as I have bought my own hay and I have silage coming in.

“Everyone will still go to the auction as even those who bought water before would have used most of it by now.”

Mr Hanks bought 100 shares or transferable water entitlements (TWE) at $68/share, which was around 34ML of water.

With the volume charge added on, this equated to about $230/ML.

“We irrigate with our centre pivot and we haven’t flood irrigated anything, basically we have gone straight into lotfeeding cows with heaps of hay and pasture,” Mr Hanks said.

“We are getting through the season and we are meeting our milk budget, but our input costs are so much higher and our milk price has not adjusted to reflect that.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Stockplan workshops roll-out for WA producers

Sheep and cattle producers have the opportunity to improve farm viability and responsiveness during the dry season, through a series of workshops offered by the Department of Agriculture and Food.
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The business program Stockplan can assist cattle and sheep producers, advisors and agribusinesses in exploring management options in the early stages of drought, during drought and recovery.

Sheep and cattle producers are encouraged to register their interest in one-day training workshops which will be held across the agricultural region.

Department research officer Jeisane Accioly said the roll-out in Western Australia followed a highly successful program in New South Wales.

“Producers in many parts of WA are currently contending with the extended dry season,” she said.

“These workshops take a whole-of-business approach to managing climate risks, minimising the long-term impact and improving recovery.”

StockPlan workshops will include information on: options for livestock such feed, sell or agist; feed requirements and cost; stock structure and cash flow effects when selling or buying livestock; and designing a stock containment facility to carry stock.

“The workshop will provide hands-on experience with a software program designed to explore these questions and many more to help producers manage this dry season and be in the best position possible to recover when it breaks,” Ms Accioly said.

The workshops, funded by DAFWA and Rural Business Development Corporation, will run between February and June with dates and locations depending on producer interest. Workshop numbers and places will be limited.

Industry & Investment (I&I) NSW livestock officer Greg Meaker was recently in WA to support department officers in the delivery of the Stockplan program.

Mr Meaker said a survey of producers who undertook the training in NSW reported that after attending the course, they were more confident in their approach to drought management.

“The course also led to changes in producers’ practices that resulted in early destocking with a market advantage and enhanced capacity to retain and feed stock, maintain productivity of the core herd or flock and improve ground cover,” he said.

To register interest or for more information about Stockplan, contact Ms Accioly or James Dee on 9780 6100.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.