Nicoletti sees future in beef game

30 Oct, 2009 01:00 AM
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John Nicoletti (left), with Lawson Angus managing director Harry Lawson and beef consultant Alan Peggs.
John Nicoletti (left), with Lawson Angus managing director Harry Lawson and beef consultant Alan Peggs.

WHEN WA's biggest graingrower says he wants to not only remain, but expand, in the beef game, those in the industry cannot help but feel confident that there is a future in the industry.

Addressing WALFA AGM delegates, Merredin-based producer John Nicoletti said one of the keys to his success was his priority on diversification and value-adding, and sticking to the philosophy of putting eggs in different baskets.

With properties located from Mullewa to Esperance, Mr Nicoletti is well-placed to tap into a rich vein of varying agricultural enterprises, and ensures vertical integration of all ventures to ensure maximum success.

Running mainly Charolais and some Poll Hereford and Angus on his properties, he said there would always be room for cattle in his portfolio.

"Cattle are a liquid asset, they ensure cash flow all the time," he said.

"I also use a lot of forward bull sales for my hedging sales program.

"Prospects for beef are good, especially with our Asian neighbours, where it has been estimated that demand will be around 12.5 million tonnes by 2015.

"Asia has limited capacity to meet its own domestic demand, and also much of their land use has changed from livestock to cropping.

"They will look to buy more beef, and they like our clean, green product."

Mr Nicoletti said cattle were the perfect complement to cropping, helping to spread the risk of farming.

So confident is Mr Nicoletti of beef's future that he said he would be seriously considering moving into lotfeeding sometime in the future.

"It makes more use of the land and is a prime example of efficient value-adding," he said.

"There are plenty of opportunities in beef for everyone."

Urging producers to think outside the square and to never say never, Mr Nicoletti enthralled the audience with his forthright views and insight into business.

'When I first started, I had nothing," he said.

"But back then there was a guaranteed reserve price for wool, so all I did was go to the saleyards and make a visual guesstimate and choose what I thought would be the most heavy cutters, then make sure I bought them at a price that would make me a profit.

"That provide guaranteed cash flow from the start."

A strong advocate of on-farm storage, Mr Nicoletti said he would probably store about 35,000 tonnes of grain this year, because grain prices were not the best.

"And while we will still have to use the CBH system for a while, we are hoping to be able to one day load direct to ships and bypass CBH," he said.

When asked whether he would sell his barley this year because prices were so low, Mr Nicoletti said he would probably buy barley instead.

"With prices the way they are, feedlotters should buy maybe three to four years' worth of grain now," he said.

"With barley, buy now, dig a hole in the ground and keep it in there for future use, it will be the best investment you can make.

"Grains are not perishable and you need to make the most of it.

"We must be price makers, not price takers."

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