Stag Beef on track for ASX float
STAG Beef has secured $23 million from cornerstone investors ahead of finalising a float on the Australian Securities Exchange worth between $70 million and $85 million. The Australian reports that the group will use the equity raising to fund the purchase of four Northern Territory cattle stations and herds – Killarney Station and Birrimba in the Victoria River District and Willeroo and Scott Creek Stations near Katherine. STAG Beef (or Staples and Agricultural Global Beef Investment) is chaired by former Queensland treasurer Keith De Lacy. Its managing director is former Deloitte partner Alain Pillay, while northern Australian cattle industry veteran and former AA CO General Manager Geoff Wagstaff will be general manager of operations. Stag Beef represents the biggest agribusiness IPO since PrimeAg Australia in 2007, and will focus on breeding and rearing cattle. Stag has also reportedly secured a $31m debt facility, of which $21m will be used to buy more cattle to boost herd numbers to about 83,000 head. STAG had initially aimed for a pre-Christmas listing but delays to due diligence on properties it is buying pushed the timetable back.
97 submissions received for Senate beef levy
The number of submissions received for the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee’s inquiry into structures and levies in the grass-fed beef cattle industry has jumped from 27 late last week to 97 today. A group which calls it “Concerned Cattle Producers” has established a website focused on the inquiry which invites invites producers to fill out an electronic questionnaire as the basis of their submission. The sudden surge in submissions received is largely explained by the group’s campaign, with more than 50 of the 70 submissions uploaded since the weekend using the Concerned Cattle Producers questionnaire. Submissions close this Saturday, March 1. To view existing submissions or to lodge your own click here.
Roma throughput back 27pc on year-to-date figures
Throughput figures for the Roma Saleyards so far this year indicate that the number of store cattle being turned off has slowed compared with the same period last year. The Roma saleyards, Australia’s largest store cattle selling centre, has recorded a 27pc decline in cattle throughput numbers for the start of 2014. A total of 36,155 head were sold at Roma Saleyards since the start of 2014 sales, according to MLA NLRS figures, while the same period last year recorded a total of 49,494 head sold.
High-output forage field days
FutureBeef will host a three free field days providing an update on the high output forages project at Capella, Rolleston and Wandoan in early April. The project focuses on forage sorghum, lablab, oats, leucaena and perennial pastures which play an integral part in beef backgrounding and finishing operations in the Fitzroy Basin. The High Output Forages (HOF) project has been running on producer co-operator sites since 2011. The field days will provide information on how to identify, grow, manage and utilise the most profitable, high quality forages for growing and finishing cattle in central Queensland. Results of projects including information on agronomy and forage production, animal production, economics and forage decision support calculators will be provided. The field days will be held at Capella on April 1, Rolleston on April 2 and Wandoan on April 3. Each day will commence at 8.30am and wrap-up at 4pm. RSVP 21 March 2014. For more information, contact Kylie Hopkins, DAFF Rockhampton on (07 4923 6215 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or click on www.futurebeef.com.au/events.
$150k in funding for new UQ Ag Technologies course
The Queensland Government has provided seed funding of $150,000 to support a new Diploma of Agricultural Technologies course at the University of Queensland’s Gatton campus. Queensland minister for agriculture John McVeigh said the course will help to meet the needs of agricultural industries which need skilled graduates, as well as opening up a new range of career pathways for young people seeking employment in agriculture. “The Diploma of Agricultural Technologies will be a pathway to acquiring up-to-date practical skills, and learning new technologies, and will also help students to enter more formalised undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at university,” Mr McVeigh said. “There are a range of areas in demand including financial and risk management, new processes and products, mechanical and machinery maintenance, operational skills, workplace health and safety and succession planning.”
Findings from latest US ag census released
Preliminary results recently released from the 2012 agricultural census in the United States show that for only the second time in the census’ 174 year history, crop sales of $212.4 billion exceeded livestock sales of $182.2 billion. The other time this occurred was 1974. The 2012 Census reported several historic changes in value of sales for agriculture producers in the United States. Between 2007 and 2012, per farm average value of sales increased from $134,807 to $187,093, continuing a steady 30-year upward trend. The increase of $52,286 was the largest rise in Census history. The 2012 Census showed principal farm operators are becoming older and more diverse; following the trend of previous censuses. In 2012, the average age of a principal farm operator was 58.3 years, up 1.2 years since 2007, and continuing a 30-year trend of steady increase. In 2012, the United States had 2.1 million farms – down 4.3 percent from the previous Census in 2007. In terms of farm size by acres, this continues an overall downward trend in mid-sized farms, while the smallest and largest-size farms held steady. Between 2007 and 2012, the amount of land in farms in the United States continued a slow downward trend declining from 922 million acres to 915 million. Conducted since 1840, the Census of Agriculture accounts for all US farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The full final report is due to be released in May.
NT chief visits Vietnam, furthers Darwin Port development push
Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles is travelling to Vietnam today where discussions will include efforts to expand the livestock trade between NT and Vietnam. Vietnam has emerged to become the NT’s second largest live cattle customer, accounting for $20m in exports last year. Mr Giles also announced the NT Government has appointed independent advisors Flagstaff Partners to develop a plan to attract private investment in the development of Darwin’s harbour foreshore, which includes a second port. “The Government is keen to see consolidation of existing marine industries in the East Arm area and continued redevelopment of the Darwin CBD foreshore, particularly around Frances Bay, to cater for a growing population,” Mr Giles said. The delegation includes Territory business leaders with interests in Vietnam, the NT Chamber of Commerce, representatives from the live cattle, seafood, mining and tourism industries, Charles Darwin University and senior public servants.
NT Govt launches inquiry into fracking
The Northern Territory’s minister for environment Peter Chandler has recommended the Territory Government hold an inquiry into hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory and the potential effects on the environment. “Hydraulic fracturing or fracking could be the key to unlocking huge economic benefits for the NT oil and gas industry,” Mr Chandler said “However, people are unsure about what the potential impacts from these practices could have on the environment and that does create some angst.” Mr Chandler said he wants the inquiry to look at assessment of environmental risks, actual environmental impacts and the effectiveness of mitigation measures. “The inquiry aims to separate the actual environmental risks from the perceived risks and clear up some of the claims about hydraulic fracturing that have caused significant public concern.”
NSW Farmers concerned about special CSG deal
NSW Farmers has questioned the need for the NSW Government’s special deal to shore up Santos’s Narrabri multi-billion dollar coal seam gas project. NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson said that while the association was reviewing the details of the agreement between the company and the government, she would have serious reservations if the government was cutting corners and short circuiting proper process. Ms Simson added that if anything had been guaranteed to Santos outside proper government process then farmers and communities had every right to be concerned about the government’s motives for prioritisation of energy companies over food and fibre producers. Ms Simson said the association’s core concern remained – the lack of an exclusion zone for strategic agricultural land. “The coal seam gas industry is still a new one in NSW and it needs to be led by world class science – not just economics or politics. “This agreement has the potential to set a dangerous precedent for future fast tracking of gas projects which our farmers and rural communities just won’t swallow,” she concluded.
Drought threat to wild dog defence
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has cautioned sheep and cattle producers to be on the lookout for breaches in the first line of defence against wild dogs – their barrier fences. DPI wild dog researcher, Guy Ballard, urged graziers in eastern NSW and Northern Tablelands, where holes have been found under fences, to protect their assets by checking and repairing dog fences.
“Ongoing dry conditions have put extra pressure on fencing as animals push through in search of food and water, which seems to be happening more than usual,” Dr Ballard said. “Landholders are telling us that wild dog activity is on the rise with increasing impacts on their properties, and that’s clearly a concern when they are trying to manage stock in drought conditions. Once wild dogs are established on private land control becomes more intensive due to the level of management which is required to cover a number of different tenures.”
Mr Ballard said fences should be checked regularly, once a fortnight on average, to ensure that they are holding up and doing the job. A single electric wire off-set 200 to 250 millimetres from the fence and the same distance from the ground can help to reduce pressure on barrier fencing.
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