News briefs 13-7

Beef Central, 13/07/2011

EU starts quota expansion process

The EU Commission has formally activated the process leading to an expansion of the high quality grainfed beef quota from 20,000 tonnes to 48,200t by August 2012.
The Commission last week issued a proposal regulation for the amendment to the European Parliament and Council. The Council of the European Union, through its Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA), will assess the proposal initially in July for the first time and decide on the following steps.
The first decision will be to designate the committee within the European Parliament in charge of the examination of the proposal.

US Burger consumption on the rise

The rapid growth of ‘better’ burger chains, which are not only driving sales but raising quality expectations as well, is contributing to higher consumption of burgers in the US market, a recent report suggests. In its Burger Consumer Trend Report, Chicago-based research firm Technomic found that 48pc of US consumers surveyed ate a burger at least once a week. That’s up from 38pc in Technomic's 2009 equivalent report.
The research showed that quality perceptions and premium flavours and ingredients drive many burger purchases today, with 36pc of consumers citing a ‘craving’ as the primary reason for their most recent burger purchase. The report examined behaviour in 1500 consumers.
“The value menu is certainly a big part of this increase in burger consumption,” Technomic’s Sara Monnette said in a release.
“The better burger restaurants in the fast casual segment have put the burger top-of-mind for consumers, and even the quick-service chains have responded by focussing portions of their menus specifically on quality perceptions.”
“The specialty burger craze has driven growth in a way that is almost defiantly separate from pricing,” Ms Monnette added.

Senate inquiry into food processing sector

Chair of the Senate select committee on Australia's food processing sector, Senator Richard Colbeck, has announced an inquiry into Australia's food processing sector. The enquiry will investigate a range of issues including investment capital, skilled labour, infrastructure and the ongoing challenges presented by the Australian climate. He will also consider the health of the entire food supply chain from the cost of primary input to the competitiveness of the retail sector as the point of supply to Australian families. The Committee will accept submissions from industry stakeholders up to October 3, and will report back to the Senate by June 30 next year. Given that the red meat industry is one of the largest food processing sectors in Australia, stakeholders will take a keen interest in the  proceedings.

Global meat prices to rise

Meat prices could average 30pc higher over the coming decade while cereal prices could average 20pc higher compared with the last decade, according to a new report by the United Nations Food & Agricultural Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development.
A key response will be to boost investment in agriculture and reinforce rural development in developing countries where 98pc of hungry people live today and where the population is expected to increase by 47pc over the next decade.

Brazil beef exports down

Brazilian beef exports fell 9pc fiscal year-on-year to 871,592t according to data from the Brazilian Ministry for Development, Industry & Trade.
Analysts suggest the fall is the result of higher cattle prices, strong domestic consumption which still accounts for over 70pc of total production and a 7pc year-on-year appreciation in the Brazilian Real to US60c.

Carbon tax will soon hit fuel: Nationals

The Nationals say it is only a matter of time before fuel is included in the government's carbon pricing scheme. Nationals senator Ron Boswell said the Australian Greens and two independent MPs, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, who were on the multi-party committee that drafted the plan, had all previously supported fuel coming under the carbon tax. "The Greens policy says they want all sectors and all major sources of emissions covered by a carbon price," Senator Boswell told Ninemsn. "Rob Oakeshott voted three times for a carbon tax on petrol when he voted three times for Kevin Rudd's carbon pollution reduction scheme, which offered relief for just one year." Mr Windsor's 2008 climate protection bill called for a tax on all major sources of emissions and an end to rebates which encouraged the use of fossil fuels. "An extension of the tax to petrol, and an attack on fuel rebates for industry including agriculture is only a matter of time," Senator Boswell said.

Fined for using electric prodder on bobby calves

Victoria’s Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has reminded producers and livestock transporters that the use of electric prodders on any animal under three months of age is illegal. DPI Animal Health Officer John Bodey said a livestock transporter was recently fined for using an electric prodder to load a bobby calf at a Victorian saleyard. “Bobby calf welfare is a serious issue and calves must be handled and moved humanely,” Mr Bodey said. “It is essential that all livestock including bobby calves, sheep, cattle and pigs are handled in a humane manner.” Bobby calves being presented for sale and/or transportation to a saleyard, calf scale, calf depots or abattoirs must be: at least four days old (on their fifth day of life); have a dry withered navel cord; bright, alert, strong, vigorous and able to stand on their own; strong enough to be transported for sale or slaughter; fed four litres of milk or colostrum daily (two litres night and morning) and fed within six hours prior to transport to the point of sale or collection; over 23 kilograms in live weight; clean, warm and dry; handled with care without the use of dogs or electrical prodders; transported in clean vehicles/trailers with enclosed fronts and non slip floors; free of antibacterial residues; and tagged with an NLIS tag.

NSW Aquifer protection welcomed

NSW Farmers has welcomed a commitment by the O’Farrell Government to limit the amount of water that can be extracted by new mining and gas activities in NSW. NSW Farmers’ Mining Chair Fiona Simson said the Government appears to be listening to community concerns about the need to protect aquifers from potential contamination. “Community concern, as demonstrated last week in Moree, shows people are concerned about the possibility of long term damage that could result from unchecked mining and gas industries,” she said. “The Government is working toward a framework where all mining and gas exploration activities and developments would be required to have prior aquifer interference approval.“This process was a clear commitment by the Government when it initially developed the Strategic Regional Land Use Policy with NSW Farmers’ and the NSW Minerals Council.

NSW Farmers’ annual conference countdown

The biggest event on the NSW Farmers’ calendar, the 2011 Annual Conference, will take place in Sydney from 19-21 July. The theme of this year’s Annual Conference is Food…Fibre…Future. NSW Farmers’ President Charles Armstrong said the event will focus on increasing community and political interest about food security. “Farmers are in the box seat when it comes to protecting Australia’s capacity to continue producing food and fibre for the world, but unfortunately they often come across hurdles in trying to do so,” he said. The issue will be debated at a live panel session Question Time – Meeting the Food Security Challenge, to be hosted by respected ABC journalist Tony Jones. The debate will be open to the public, who will be given the opportunity to submit questions in person or via the NSW Farmers’ Facebook and Twitter pages. The conference will be held daily from 8:30am from Tuesday July 19  to Thursday July 21 at the Sydney Showground, Homebush.

France bans fracking

The French parliament voted on June 30 to ban the controversial technique for extracting natural gas from shale rock deposits known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, according to a report on the Scientific American website. The Senate vote of 176 to 151 made France the first country to enact such a ban. The bill does not prevent the exploitation of oil shale deposits by techniques other than fracking. Fracking requires the injection of vast quantities of water and potentially hazardous chemicals into the ground to force the release of natural gas. Fracking is a widely used technique to maximise gas production from each well in the Australian coal seam gas industry. The U.S. government is investigating the environmental impact of the technique, which critics say produces toxic waste and pollutes water wells.

Fewer rain storms across southern Australia: CSIRO

Decreasing autumn and winter rainfall over southern Australia has been attributed to a 50-year decrease in the average intensity of storms in the region – a trend which is forecast to continue for another 50 years. CSIRO climate scientist, Dr Jorgen Frederiksen, said the changes are due to reductions in the strength of the mid-latitude jet stream and changes in atmospheric temperatures. The jet stream comprises fast moving westerly winds in the upper atmosphere. “The drop in winter and autumn rainfall observed across southern Australia is due to a large downturn in the intensity of storm formations over at least the last three decades compared with the previous three decades, and these effects have become more pronounced with time,” Dr Frederiksen said. “Our recent work on climate model projections suggests a continuation of these trends over the next 50 years.




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