CATCH up with the ag news of the week in our weekly wrap: Sydney Royal; glypho cancer claims; cattle outlook; ag's underbelly; White Paper woes.
Hats on, Sydney
The Akubras multiplied exponentially on the Sydney city rail network this week as farmers and producers from across the country flocked to town for the start of the Sydney Royal Easter Show. In a first for the industry, the Australian Livestock and Property Agent's National Young Auctioneers Competition - won by Victorian Nick Gray - was live streamed to a national audience.
Market spooked by 'phantom herd'
THERE'S price volatility ahead in beef cattle markets, predicts seasoned market analyst Tim McRae, but the spikes should point mostly upwards.
Australian producers have likely pumped out most spare stock capacity in the past two years of drought-induced slaughter, according to Mr McRae, to the extent of possibly also eliminating the 'phantom herd'.
The phantom herd are those cattle that don’t appear in statistics, but mysteriously appear in saleyards during times of high turnoff.
Slaughter rates have been so sustained, and poor seasonal conditions so persistent across large swathes of cattle country, that Mr McRae says there can be few spare stock left in the system.
Glypho cancer claims a wake-up call
A VETERINARY pathologist has warned the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) findings on glyphosate should serve as a wake-up call for Australian agriculture.
Matt Landos, who currently works in the aquaculture industry in Port Lincoln, South Australia, says he believes the IARC findings that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic should spark a review of the pesticides approval process in Australia.
“Glyphosate is the biggest product in the market, its use is so widespread, yet there is more and more evidence of the dangers of the organophosphate pesticides, which includes glyphosate.
“I think we need to be looking at the APVMA (Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority) and its procedures in terms of determining the safety of products.”
“This is just another example of the need for change in terms of the way the APVMA makes its decisions.”
Black market in farm labour: ag's seedy 'underbelly'
DEATH threats, kidnappings, sexual favours and abuse, physical violence and millions of dollars in white collar theft driven by complex illegal international slave labour rackets.
It sounds like the next Underbelly mini-series or Mario Puzo screenplay, but in fact it’s a description of anecdotal evidence and convictions on illegal activities in Australia’s farm labour industry which are escalating nationwide and must be stopped, says Queensland Nationals MP Keith Pitt.
“I’ve had any number of reports of people receiving physical violence, death threats - sexual abuse and sexual favours are rampant,” Mr Pitt said.
“Some of the reports we get are that to get signed off for your 88 days, to get year-two on your (417 working holiday) visa, the employer says, ‘we’ll give you two options – it’s $1000 on the table or you on the table’.”
White Paper worries
THE long-awaited Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper may fail to align cohesively with other critical policy reform papers, according to the National Farmers' Federation (NFF).
The White Paper was a key Abbott government election commitment aimed at providing a policy roadmap to guide the industry’s future viability.
However, despite releasing a Green Paper in October last year, which outlined draft proposals and key reforms around drought support, taxation and infrastructure, the White Paper’s release remains clouded.
NFF president Brent Finlay rejected speculation this week which suggested the government’s visionary farm policy statement may now be released after the May federal budget is handed down.
The NFF has urged the federal government to provide budget provisions that ensure the White Paper’s key reform areas are implemented.
The farm lobby’s 2015-15 budget submission said the White Paper “must deliver a clear and tangible plan for farmers and agribusinesses”.
“It must be a plan that delivers action and outcomes; not more talk and delays,” the submission said.