WA meeting to tackle rural debt
Farmers in Western Australia will hold a public meeting at Merredin on April 15 to campaign for greater government support for agriculture in the face of spiralling rural debt issues. Muntadgin Farming Alliance spokesman Jeff Hooper said the group had invited economists and state and federal politicians to outline policy-based approaches to protect the future of agriculture in the state. “Banks are making finance increasingly difficult to obtain and are in some cases denying finance to farmers who have found themselves struggling to service their debt,” Mr Hooper said. “It’s having a dire effect on our businesses, schools, families and communities”. He said constant rationalisation including the removal of drought relief had weakened the financial situation for farmers who had to contend with falling prices in real terms and rising input costs. “The suggestion that we should continue to grow food for the world with no profit and no safety net is extraordinary.” he said. The public meeting will start at 10am on April 15th 2013 at the Merredin Regional Community and Leisure Centre.
ESCAS review within two years: Ludwig
Federal agriculture minister Joe Ludwig has ruled out calls for an immediate independent review into the Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS), stating that a review will be conducted within the next two years. WA’s Pastoralists and Graziers Association says the animal welfare assurance system is destroying the live export industry by imposing high bureaucratic burdens and costs on exporters and importers, which in turn is causing Australia to lose export markets to competitors that do not impose the same degree of regulation. In an interview with ABC radio the minister said ESCAS was put in place to guarantee the industry’s future and its value had been recognised by a range of industry groups. He said the next review of the ESCAS system, which was rollout across all export markets last year, will be “within two years time”. He said the Government was open to working with an industry advisory group on an ongoing basis to streamline the system and reduce red tape where possible while ensuring animal welfare outcomes were not compromised. “(We) certainly don't need to wait for a review to (do) that,” he said. He said the Government was also working to develop Memorandums of Understanding with groups alternative markets such as Saudi Arabia and Iran to increase market access for Australia’s live export industry. “We've continued to have discussions with those various countries, though what we don't talk about is the detail. Clearly it is a – government to government communications, but they're happening
Prevention the best cure for grain overload in stock
Livestock producers are being warned to keep an eye out for signs of grain overload in their stock. Sometimes referred to as grain poisoning, it can be problem for cattle and sheep producers in times of dry weather when paddock feed deteriorates and diet is supplemented with grain. The Livestock Health and Pest Authorities (LHPA) say signs of grain overload in cattle include bloated stomach, diarrhoea, a sore abdomen and often sore feet.“ The sickness is caused by an excess of lactic acid in the rumen as a result of a sudden abundance of soluble starch in the diet. While it can be treated, prevention is the best approach, LHPA Senior District Veterinarian Greg McCann said. “Introducing grain gradually over a two-week period and making gradual changes to rations is the best preventative measure,” said Dr McCann. “It’s also important that when the types of grain used are changed that this is done gradually by mixing in the new grain over a fortnight”.
New animal welfare information hub
A revamped Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) website is now providing a central information hub on all aspects of animal welfare policies and practices, following an extensive upgrade. The AAWS is a national plan which guides activities aimed at improving the welfare of animals, and provides the Australian and international communities with an improved appreciation of animal welfare arrangements in this country. The new AAWS website, www.australiananimalwelfare.com.au, provides the public with easy to access and useful information, including animal welfare standards, guidelines, tips and tools, upcoming events, educational videos and news items, said Keith Adams, Deputy Chair of the Australian Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. The new website will act as an authoritative source of animal welfare information, and provide avenues for those with an interest in animal welfare issues to interact with the AAWS. For more information on AAWS visit www.australiananimalwelfare.com.au.
NSW the worst performer in coal seam gas reform process: COAG
NSW Farmers has criticised the O’Farrell Government’s approach to managing coal seam gas (CSG), after a report released by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council described NSW as the *worst performer” in meeting its obligations to effectively regulate CSG and large coal mining. NSW Farmers’ President, Fiona Simson said the report found that NSW was the only signatory to the COAG process which had failed to propose a satisfactory way to incorporate independent scientific advice. NSW Farmers has called on the NSW Government to revisit its Aquifer Interference Policy to deliver on its election commitments and set standards that communities can have confidence in. “Before the last election we were promised a binding Aquifer Interference Regulation which would require approvals under water legislation. Instead we have been given a policy which miners and government-alike are free to ignore. If that isn’t a recipe to replicate Queensland’s mistakes then we don’t know what is,” Ms Simson said.
$30m for 31 carbon research projects
Agriculture minister Joe Ludwig has announced $30m in funding to progress 31 new research projects looking at how farm practices can be adapted to reduce carbon emissions and to earn a second income stream for farmers by generating saleable carbon credits. The $30 million is from Gillard Government’s $201 million Filling the Research Gap Program, which funds the research that will assist in developing methodologies that can be applied by farmers and landholders to reduce emissions. Minister Ludwig announced the recipients during a visit to the Queensland University of Technology which will receive $1,816,708 for three projects that will develop cost-effective methodologies for quantifying emissions of nitrous oxide from agricultural soils; evaluate composting as a practice to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from manure; and explore weather forecasts as a tool to better time fertiliser to minimise nitrous oxide emissions.The first round of grants last year saw $47 million awarded to 57 projects. For information on the successful grant recipients visit www.daff.gov.au/ftrg.
Ausagventures launches community blog
Beef Industry Rising Champion Stephanie Coombes has converted her rural blogsite ausagventures.com into a community blogging resource to enable others to share stories, videos, pictures or opinions online without having to establish and run their own websites. To mark the move she has launched a guest blogging competition, in which participants can win a GoPro camera valued at $400 as well as other prizes. The competition closes on June 30 and Steph is hoping to see more entries from producers, such as introductions to their farm or stories about favourite pictures or farming experiences. For more details visit ausagventures by clicking here