Livestock production value rises 8pc in 2010-11
The gross value of agricultural production in Australia during the 2010-11 financial year was $40.1 billion, 19pc higher ($6.4 billion) than the previous year. Preliminary findings from the 2011 Agricultural Census by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that the total value of livestock slaughterings and other disposals was $13.7b in the period, an increase of 8pc on the previous year. Nationally the value of crops increased by 26pc in 2010-11, reversing the trend of decline witnessed in recent years. The number of cattle and calves slaughtered was down slightly on the previous year, but average prices were up substantially resulting in an overall increase of 9pc in the value of cattle and calves slaughter to $7.9 billion.The value of cattle and calves slaughtered rose in all states and territories, most notably the Northern Territory (up by 27pc), Tasmania (up by 22pc) and Western Australia (up by 13pc). The gross value of sheep and lambs and poultry in Australia increased by 9pc and 16pc respectively, however the gross value of pigs decreased by 9pc nationally. In terms of livestock products, the gross value of wool increased by 39pc to $2.7 billion nationally, driven by large increases in Victoria (up by 57pc), Western Australia (up by 34pc) and New South Wales (up by 33pc). The gross value of eggs and milk also increased by 30pc and 17pc respectively.
Who benefits from the mining boom?
A new survey suggests many Australians believe the mining boom provides most benefit to mining company executives and little benefit to regional communities. Essential Media recently polled public opinion on perceptions of who benefits from the mining boom, and who should benefit. Most survey respondents (68pc) believed mining company executives benefit a lot, followed by mining company shareholders (48pc) foreign companies (42pc), the Federal Government (37pc), State Governments (31pc), regional communities (12pc) and all Australians (11pc). Asked which groups should benefit from the mining boom, respondents answered all Australians (68pc); regional communities (58pc); State Governments (30pc); Federal Government (27pc); mining company shareholders (12pc); foreign companies (4pc) and mining company executives (4pc).
Vic abattoir closed on animal welfare complaints
Victoria’s Department of Primary Industries has launched an investigation into slaughter practices at a Victorian abattoir following animal welfare complaints concerning the slaughter of pigs. The investigation will focus on potential breaches of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 in relation to video footage allegedly taken inside an abattoir in Gippsland recently. The footage was provided to the department by Animals Australia. The DPI said it was working closely with Prime Safe Victoria which is the authority responsible for the licensing of all Victorian domestic abattoirs. PrimeSafe has ordered the owners of the abattoir to cease operations and has suspended their licence pending a full investigation. The PrimeSafe investigation relates to possible breaches of the Meat Industry Act 1993. DPI inspectors are preparing a separate investigation under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.
UK groups defend farm use of antibiotics
Agriculture experts in the United Kingdom have hit back at criticism over antibiotic use on farms, calling for stronger regulation within human treatment. Britain’s Meat Trade Journal reports that groups including the National Farmers Union and the Responsible Use of Medicine in Agriculture (RUMA) believe legislation should focus more on doctors’ prescriptions than on farm animal treatments to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The stance follows calls by the Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), The Soil Association and Sustain to reduce antibiotic use on farms by 50pc by 2015. The RUMA group said in response: “The report misses a great opportunity to help highlight the importance of both medical and veterinary practitioners working together to help preserve the ?efficacy of antimicrobials for both human and animal health.” The group stressed the rarity of transfers of resistant bacteria from animals to humans, and the importance of antibiotics to maintain food safety standards. “Safe food comes from healthy animals and antibiotics are essential to treat bacterial ?infection in Britain’s farm animals and pets, as they are for people,” RUMA said. The NFU said it was committed to tackling the problem of AMR, but said the imposition of legal controls on the use of antimicrobials in animals would not solve the problem in humans. “This is a disproportionate response to the precautionary principle and is resulting in policy that is not evidence-based,” an NFU spokesperson said.?
Livestock critical to global food security
A senior advisor with the US Bureau of Food Security has told the 44th annual conference of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners that livestock production is critical to the food security and livelihood of the world’s population. Joyce Turk is a senior livestock advisor with the US Agency for International Development. According to a report on US website cattlenetwork.com, she told the conference that an example of livestock’s importance to food security was currently playing out in the Horn of Africa which is experiencing its worst drought in 60 years. The crisis has affected 12 million people, and child malnutrition rates are gauged to be up to 55pc. African relief experts were emphasising that the loss of animals is a “critical factor driving families to destitution, famine and death from starvation.” Animal-source foods provided 15pc of total food energy and 25pc of total dietary protein. Additionally, the biological value of animal-source protein is about 1.4 times that of plant foods. “The most critical part is that essential amino acids and micronutrients are more bio-available in animal-source foods than from plant-based foods,” she says. “Animal-source foods are critical for immune system functions, cognitive and physical development, work productivity and the span and quality of life.” A study by the Global Livestock Collaborative Services Support Program measured the impact of diets supplemented with meat and milk in 544 Kenyan school children over a 23-month period. “Those children that received meat in their diets gained 30 to 80 percent of lean body mass during the 23 months of the study,” Turk says. “Those that received milk but no meat in their diets showed a positive gain in height.”