Agribusiness buzz in brief

Agribusiness buzz in brief


A quick look at what's happening around the traps in agribusiness


US farm casualties in trade war

The US government is ramping up pre-election assistance to its farmers to retain support from farming states as the Trump administration's trade challenges hit the world's largest agricultural exporter hard.

US farm commodity exports to China have crashed since the trade war began, falling from $34 billion ($US24b) in 2017 to a projected $A10.9b this year.

Trade disputes with other global partners have added to US farm export woes, with tariffs imposed on American agricultural imports by Canada, Mexico, Turkey, the European Union, Japan and India.

Since the US-China trade war escalated in late 2018, the number of US farms filing for bankruptcy has lifted 24 per cent.

America's big diary state, Wisconsin, has the highest farm bankruptcy rate, and farm numbers have fallen 10pc.

To date, the impact of trade wars on agricultural productivity has cost Washington an additional $A40b in compensatory payments to farmers, and President Donald Trump recently announced plans for another wave of funds.

The American Farm Bureau estimated 40pc of 2019 farm profits were expected to come via federal assistance.

In October President Trump said a new trade deal with China was in the pipeline, but farmers are concerned about the time it will take to rebuild relationships and what trade gains will actually be agreed to by Beijing.

The American Enterprise Institute - a conservative think tank - is also worried about a potential breach of World Trade Organisation commitments on US support provided to agriculture.

Current WTO rules limit total US domestic support, if it distorts trade flows, to less than $US19.1b a year.


APVMA boss leaving

Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority chief executive officer, Dr Chris Parker, is to leave the job, although will remain CEO until a replacement commences.

Dr Parker was appointed two years ago, having held the top job at the regulatory body in an interim capacity since mid 2017.

His departure was for personal reasons and he expected a replacement as soon as possible, following a merit-based and transparent selection process.

He said the past two and a half years had seen significant milestones and improvements in the organisation, including its successful head office relocation to Armidale and continuous improvement in the APVMA's timeframe performance and a reduction in the average time to process applications and clearing a significant backlog of outstanding applications.

Veterinary products industry body, Animal Medicines Australia's executive director, Ben Stapley, thanked Dr Parker managing the APVMA through a difficult time as the regulatory agency relocated to Armidale.

He said Dr Parker had also championed the use of international data for APVMA assessments, "a logical move welcomed by industry".


CSU honour for Keogh

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission agricultural commissioner, Mick Keogh, has been made a Doctor of Applied Science (honoris causa) by Charles Sturt University, recognising his dedication to the industry and rural Australia.

Mr Keogh (pictured), who was born in Wagga Wagga and raised on his family's property at Mullengandra, in the south-east Riverina, established and headed the policy think tank, the Australian Farm Institute for 15 years, initially joining the ACCC in a part time capacity in 2016.

He has been a deputy chairman of the consumer watchdog since 2018.

In the past 15 years, Mr Keogh has served on numerous advisory boards and councils, including with the Australian Government, CSIRO Sustainable Agriculture Flagship's advisory council, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, and the Primary Industries Material Advisory Council of NSW.

In 2015 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2015 for services to agriculture and was Rabobank's 2014 Leadership Award winner.

CSU vice chancellor Professor Andrew Vann said Mr Keogh had shown amazing dedication to the improvement and success of agriculture and the university recognised this contribution.


Rural Bank scholarships

Applications for Rural Bank's 2020 Scholarship Program are open until January 28 for students from regional and rural Australia.

The 2020 Program will support up to 15 first-time undergraduate students looking to pursue tertiary education and contribute to the overall success of Australia's agriculture sector.

Rural Bank's chief operating officer, Will Rayner, said the program would enable students to pursue career ambitions, while gaining knowledge and skills that will in turn support regional communities to prosper.

"This year has been a challenging year for major parts of regional and rural Australia," he said.

"The Rural Bank Scholarship Program aims to support regional students to pursue further studies by removing some of the hurdles they face in accessing tertiary education and settling into university life."

Rural Bank scholarships are part of the broader Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Scholarship Program, one of Australia's leading privately funded scholarship programs.

The bank offers scholarship opportunities to first-time tertiary and TAFE students from regional and rural areas.


FRRR bush community grants

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) has allocated $643,400 in grants to communities across Australia through the third round of its Strengthening Rural Communities program.

Grants range from $2134, for a new hot water service at the Monteagle Hall in southern NSW, to $25,000 for workshops and community infrastructure projects to enhance community or organisational capacity in remote communities.

Most of the grants awarded will go towards developing organisational resilience and capacity, building community or promoting health and social wellbeing.

FRRR chief executive officer, Natalie Egleton, said significant hardship experienced across NSW and Queensland, as a result of prolonged drought, floods and recent bushfires was evident throughout the applications.

Grant recipients were spread from Tibooburra in far North West NSW, to Kowanyama on Queensland's western Cape York Peninsula, Alice Springs, Mingenew in Western Australia's northern wheatbelt and Coffin Bay on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula.

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The story Agribusiness buzz in brief first appeared on Farm Online.


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