Archive for June, 2019

High turn-off hits national herd

AFTER experiencing unprecedented turn-off (slaughter and live exports) in 2014, the Australian cattle industry is likely to see significant adjustments over the coming years, says Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).
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The high turn-off has had a dramatic impact on the national herd, estimated to have declined from a 35 year high, to a two decade low, in the space of just 24 months.

The flow-on effects from this are likely to last for the duration of the projection period (2020), impacting available supplies, while at the same time, testing market willingness to compete for limited product.

While the decline in 2015 is dramatic, putting the volumes into context, production levels are anticipated to be in line with the 10 year average. Regardless, having come from such supply highs, an adjustment across the supply chain is inevitable, having a range of consequences, including how cattle and boxed beef will be balanced between new and existing customers. This will be the case again in 2016 when further supply shortages are expected.

Indicative beef export prices during 2014 were at record highs, and are forecast to remain strong over the coming 12 months – given current low US beef production and strong global demand assisted by a devaluing $A.

This suggests that while Australian supplies are likely to decline over the coming 24 months, there will be potential for farm gate prices to lift. This has been exemplified by the recent sudden jump in prices, following widespread rainfall over the Christmas period.

Given the strength of the US market in particular, and under the assumption of tighter Australian beef production, an export market realignment is anticipated, with a greater proportion of exports trending back toward the larger, traditional markets of the US, Japan and Korea. The domestic market looks to remain under pressure.

On the live export front, demand is likely to remain robust, with the live trade continuing to contribute an important portion of turn-off. With fewer cattle available, and assuming uninterrupted market access, the South East Asian markets, in particular Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia, should continue dominating the trade for both feeder and slaughter cattle.

One of the key assumptions forming the basis of the 2015 cattle industry projections is that Australia will phase out of drought over the coming 12 months, with a greater proportion of production and exports to occur in the first half of the year, before easing in the final quarters.

With this as a key assumption, and given not only the seasonal variability, but the heavy influence seasonal conditions play on the Australian beef supply situation, the MLA Cattle Industry Projections will be updated on a quarterly basis.

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WA Libs lead spill motion

Prime Minister Tony Abbott.WESTERN Australian backbenchers Luke Simpkins and Don Randall have announced they will move a leadership spill against the Prime Minister on Tuesday, declaring Tony Abbott’s decision to knight Prince Philip was the “final proof” of disconnection with voters.
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Mr Simpkins emailed colleagues on Friday to say he had been inundated by voters with concerns about the direction of the government.

“I think that we must bring this to a head and test the support of the leadership of the party room””The last time this outpouring of concern happened was when we were being led to support the Rudd government’s ETS [emissions trading scheme] and faced with this erosion of our base support we acted,” he said.

“I think that we must bring this to a head and test the support of the leadership of the party room.

“I have therefore submitted to the chief government whip a motion to spill the leadership positions of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party.”

The motion threatens to end Tony Abbott’s tenure as Prime Minister.

It also means deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop’s position will also be up for grabs.

Comment is being sought from Ms Bishop and the other leadership contender, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Leadership speculation has been building since Mr Abbott’s infamous Australia Day honour, with his decision to knight Prince Philip widely ridiculed. The party’s disastrous performance in the Queensland state election on the weekend put further pressure on the Prime Minister.

In a statement, Chief Government Whip Philip Ruddock said Mr Abbott had agreed to have the spill motion “listed for discussion” on Tuesday.

Mr Ruddock said the motion by Mr Simpkins and seconded by Mr Randall proposes that “the Liberal Party room resolve, via secret ballot, that the senior positions of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party be declared vacant”.

In his email to colleagues, Mr Simpkins said “this gives you all an opportunity to either endorse the Prime Minister or to seek a new direction”.

“As I have said in the past, I have no front bench ambitions. I just want to make sure that the economic vandals do not get back into power and our children and grandchildren are not left to pay Labor’s bill,” he wrote.

“I do this because I believe it is in the best interests of the people of our country.”

Earlier on Friday, Ms Bishop passed up an opportunity to try and quell backbench unrest, saying those pushing for a spill to topple Mr Abbott as Prime Minister will do as they see fit.

Ms Bishop, who a week ago was considered a leadership contender, is now shoring up her own position as deputy.

When asked if she would advise her colleagues against launching an attempt to dislodge Mr Abbott, Ms Bishop declined.

“No, I don’t have any advice for my colleagues because they are elected members of Parliament and they will take whatever action they see fit,” she said.

“My message to the backbench is focus on teamwork, focus on what we can achieve as a united cohesive team.”

– More to come

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Spill is ‘self-indulgent crap’: Madigan

Senator John Madigan.VICTORIAN independent Senator John Madigan says rural communities and voters are fed up with “self-indulgent crap” from successive governments arguing over leadership.
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His comments come as news broke of a leadership ballot being moved against Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the Liberal party room next week, when parliament resumes for the first time this year, in Canberra.

Chief Government Whip and Liberal MP Philip Ruddock issued a statement saying he’d received a notice of motion from Western Australian Liberal Luke Simpkins and seconded by colleague Don Randall proposing the Liberal Party Room “resolve, via secret ballot, that the senior positions of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party be declared vacant”.

“The Prime Minister has indicated this motion will be listed for discussion at the Liberal Party Meeting on Tuesday,” Mr Ruddock said.

Senator Madigan said the move to try and remove Mr Abbott as Prime Minister was “bloody stupid”.

“People make mistakes,” he said. “But people everywhere are fed up with this self-indulgent crap.

“I wish they’d just get on with the job of governing the country – whether it’s the ALP or the Liberals.

“We can’t afford to continue with this self-indulgent crap.”

Senator Madigan has this week been on a tour of communities in the Murray-Darling Basin in NSW and Victoria gauging their thoughts and feelings on the Basin Plan and its threat to irrigated agriculture.

He said Mr Abbott’s leadership of the Coalition was raised by communities who want to see their political leaders deliver good government policy and results, rather than an ongoing focus on personality.

Next week’s ballot arrives after increasing speculation and doubt over Mr Abbott’s leadership credentials, following his awarding of a knighthood to Prince Philip on Australia day.

‘We are not the Labor Party’Mr Abbott warned his colleagues against repeating “the chaos and the instability of the Labor years” in a statement.

“As you know, two of my colleagues have called for a leadership spill of the two senior positions in our Party,” he said.

“The first point to make is that they are perfectly entitled to call for this, but the next point to make is that they are asking the Party Room to vote out the people that the electorate voted in in September 2013.

“I want to make this very simple point: we are not the Labor Party. We are not the Labor Party and we are not going to repeat the chaos and the instability of the Labor years.

“So, I have spoken to Deputy Leader Julie Bishop and we will stand together in urging the Party Room to defeat this particular motion, and in so doing, and in defeating this motion to vote in favour of the stability and the team that the people voted for at the election.”

Nats could walk, says JoyceAgriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce warned the Nationals could walk away from the Coalition in the wake of an upcoming spill next Tuesday.

“What I say to my colleagues in the Liberal party is this: we didn’t want this. We gave you fair warning,” Mr Joyce said.

“Do not consider that the National party support is without question.

“If all of a sudden a different person is walking down the aisle towards us, don’t necessarily think the wedding is still on.”

Mr Joyce called for the Liberal party to restore stability and said the leadership sideshow was distracting from important issues in regional areas.

“We do not condone chaos – that’s what the Australian people voted against at the last election.”

Turnbull, Abbott ‘cut from the same cloth’Opposition leader Bill Shorten said the Liberal government was in chaos and key leadership contender and former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull “may have a nicer suit than Tony Abbott”.

“But when it comes to cost of living pressures and cutting a billion dollars from child care, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott are cut from the same cloth,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has also been touted as a possible replacement but the Nationals have expressed a lack of confidence in Mr Turnbull due to his views on climate change policy and impacts on farmers.

The Nationals have also said the Coalition agreement is between Mr Abbott and party leader Warren Truss and would need to be renegotiated if there was any change of Liberal Leader.

Nationals NSW MP and assistant finance minister Michael McCormack said the leadership of the Liberals was “entirely a matter for them”.

He said the Nationals, as a party yesterday at a planning meeting in Wodonga, Victoria, “again reiterated our support for the current Prime Minister”.

“It’s too early for a change,” he said.

“The public perception of us making a change now would not be good and in the eyes of many we would be seen as being no better than the rabble we replaced and often perception is reality in politics.

“I wish these disaffected Liberals would take a Bex and lie down; they’ve been far too outspoken and far too rebellious.

“Disunity is death in politics and it’s not as if things were that bad that it needed to come to this.”

Mr McCormack said if there was a change of leader “and that’s being really hypothetical”, any replacement, including Mr Turnbull, would need to sit down with the National party’s leadership including Mr Truss and deputy-leader Barnaby Joyce for talks “and work through the thing that matter most to us”.

He said those issues included the regions, rural health and agriculture.

“But at the end of the day, if the Liberals go changing their leaders then the Coalition agreement is no longer valid,” he said.

Hockey won’t speculateLiberal Treasurer Joe Hockey pledged his support for Mr Abbott saying, “I’m not getting into speculation about numbers”.

“The only numbers I’m worried about are the Budget numbers, and every single day the Australian government is spending $100 million more than it collects in revenue and the people that are in the way of us actually addressing that structural challenge are the Labor Party, the Greens, the Independents and the Senate,” he said.

“It is clearly unsustainable for Australia to have a government that continues to spend $100 million more than it collects every day.

“Even as I stand, we are spending $40 million today just on the interest on the debt, and the debt is building and building every single day because in order to make up that shortfall of $100 million a day, we have to borrow more money, and that’s just for our everyday costs of living as a government.

“So, everyone knows from a childcare centre operator and owner, right through to someone running a family budget, it is unsustainable to continue on a path where you spend more than you collect every single day.”

A test of characterIn his speech at the National Press Club on Monday, Mr Abbott conceded that responding to ongoing conjecture about his leadership was now a big test for the government.

“This will be a test of character,” he said.

“Now politicians pass the test when they do what is best for the long-term, not when they give in to short-term fear and make a difficult situation worse. That’s the situation.

“Sure, we’ve had a bad patch, what do you do when you have a bad patch?

“You can buckle down to business or not, but failing to buckle down to business always makes a bad situation worse.

“So that’s the conversation that I’ve had with many of my colleagues.”

But Mr Abbott also admitted his government gave some commitments in the last election campaign that they have not been able to keep, including his promise to not cut the ABC or SBS budgets.

“But I also say – and I think the public understands this – that the situation that we thought we were facing at the time of the election turned out to be different,” he said.

Mr Abbott said heading into the 2013 campaign the then-government said the deficit for that financial year would be $18 billion but in the end was $30b more.

He said not cutting the ABC was, “a commitment that we weren’t able to keep – but I think the Australian public understand that when circumstances change sometimes governments have got to adjust to those changing circumstances”.

– with ERIN HANDLEY

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Nats could walk, says Joyce

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.AGRICULTURE Minister Barnaby Joyce has warned the Nationals may walk away from the Coalition in the wake of an upcoming spill on Tuesday.
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News of the spill broke on Friday when Western Australian Liberal MP Luke Simpkins confirmed he will seek a leadership spill against Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“What I say to my colleagues in the Liberal party is this: we didn’t want this. We gave you fair warning,” Mr Joyce told The Northern Daily Leader.

“Do not consider that the National party support is without question.”

“If all of a sudden a different person is walking down the aisle towards us, don’t necessarily think the wedding is still on.”

Mr Joyce called for the Liberal party to restore stability and said the leadership sideshow was distracting from important issues in regional areas.

“We do not condone chaos – that’s what the Australian people voted against at the last election.”

“This airing of public laundry is more of a sordid soap. It’s intriguing and exciting but it is not endearing.”

“I’m extremely disappointed that this process is now afoot.”

“The Australian people deserve respect by having people act in a diligent and dignified way.”

“We will be thinking of our constituents in regional areas and the nation.”

The announcement of the spill follows rampant speculation about a leadership challenge that escalated after the Prime Minister knighted Prince Philip as part of the Australia Day honours.

When questioned whether Mr Joyce was still willing to bet his Tamworth house on Mr Abbott leading the Coalition to the next election, Mr Joyce demurred and said his initial bet was the public would not be speaking about Prince Philip at the next election, and it was ABC 7.30’s Leigh Sales who had upped the stakes.

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Turning farms into ‘fortresses’

Chairman of the Livestock Biosecurity Network David Palmer.FARMERS should treat their boundary fences the same way they expect the federal government to protect our national borders, says David Palmer, chairman of the Livestock Biosecurity Network (LBN).
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The former managing director of Meat and Livestock Australia wants producers to turn their farms into fortresses against the incursion of pests and diseases.

He said the LBN, although small and lean, was having success raising awareness about the beneficial impact that good on-farm biosecurity management has on producers’ bottom lines.

The LBN’s main aim was to encourage farmers to better understand the value of their livestock assets and the need to adopt biosecurity practices that improved animal welfare and productivity as well as reducing costs, he said.

The LBN was established nationally in 2013 as a three-year pilot program by the Sheepmeat and Cattle Councils of Australia and WoolProducers Australia with the support of $5 million in grower transaction levies held in trust.

The peak livestock and wool councils were responding to rising industry concerns about the impact of diseases and pests on the farming economy.

At the top of Australia’s farm biosecurity risk management programs is ensuring we are well prepared for an outbreak of disastrous exotic diseases, notably foot and mouth, but keeping endemic diseases and pests such as lice, footrot, OJD and invasive weeds off farms are also essential for healthy and profitable farms.

Mr Palmer said the performance of the LBN would be independently reviewed at the end of this year or early in 2016 and while he personally didn’t support any major expansion he believed the network could have an important ongoing role in changing attitudinal behaviour to biosecurity among producers and others in the supply chain, such as agents, stock carriers and saleyard operators.

The LBN’s six regional officers strategically located around the country had been building networks with existing organisations involved in biosecurity such as departments of agriculture, farm organisations, farmer groups, agribusinesses and stock agents, Mr Palmer said.

The LBN was using these public/private partnerships to roll out initiatives, workshops and projects aimed at improving farmer awareness of biosecurity risks as well as the practices that minimised them, he said.

The LBN officers were also helping co-ordinate specific biosecurity programs to tackle problems and issues raised by farmers in their region such as wild dog and lice control and better preparing stock for road transport to markets and abattoirs.

“The LBN is about money. It’s about helping farmers protect their livestock assets which, in some cases, are worth millions of dollars,” Mr Palmer said.

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