Archive for August, 2019

National lamb supply surges

Supply surges with resumption of full trading weekNATIONAL lamb supply increased 76 per cent week-on-week, following last week’s shorter trading week, at 116,217 head, with all states except Tasmania yarding larger numbers.

National sheep supply jumped 92pc, to 61,823 head, with increased numbers in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia this week.

Heavy weight lambs well-supplied across NSW and VictoriaThere were large numbers of well-presented trade and heavy weight lambs penned at Tamworth, Bendigo and Ballarat this week. At Dubbo, there were some excellent lines of heavy weight lambs along with good numbers of well-finished Merinos, while trade weights were in limited supply.

Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs made up the majority of the offering at Forbes, while at Muchea, store and light weight drafts made up a large percentage of the yarding. Increased buyer activity at South Australian Livestock Exchange supported a dearer trend across all categories, with trade and processor demand creating strong competition for restockers.

At Bendigo, there were several runs of heavy crossbred ewes, along with well-presented Merino wethers and ewes. Medium and heavy weight lines were well supplied at Tamworth and Inverell.

Prices climb higherAt the close of Tuesday’s markets, the eastern states restocker lamb indicator increased 9¢ last week’s levels, on 555¢/kg cwt. Merino lambs were up 32¢ on 524¢, while light lambs jumped 21¢ on 553¢/kg cwt.

Trade lambs gained 23¢ on 568¢, and heavy lambs were 31¢ higher on 584¢/kg cwt. The mutton indicator finished 10¢ dearer on 358¢/kg cwt.

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Cattle throughput up 78pc

Numbers returnBY Wednesday, national throughput at National Livestock Reporting Service-reported saleyards had lifted 78 per cent to 52,241 head, on the back of a resumption of a full trading week following last week’s public holiday.

Throughput in Queensland lifted 38pc to 12,086 head, with the return of both Toowoomba sales and Roma Store lifting 700 head.

Numbers in NSW more than doubled to 21,745 head, with the return of Forbes, Tamworth and Wagga. Victorian cattle supply almost doubled to 13,641 head, with Ballarat and the Monday Pakenham sale returning and all other saleyards recording increased or steady throughput.

Yardings in South Australia doubled to 2535 head, while Western Australia eased slightly to 2019 head. Tasmania yarded 215 head, up 100 head week-on-week.

Feeder demand remainsLotfeeders continued to be the major yearling buyers at Warwick and lines experienced quality related price variations, while restockers showed strong interest in well-bred yearling steers.

At Roma Store, good numbers from the south-west and several consignments from the central-west parts of the state were yarded and prices remained high, trending either side of firm.

Feeder buyers, with some from northern NSW, dominated most yearling lines and pushed prices dearer at Wagga. Heavy grown steers were also keenly sought by lotfeeders and export processors and a SA processor drove the cow marker higher.

There was an increased number of heavy yearlings, suitable for the trade and feeder buyers, at Wodonga and interstate lotfeeders, joining the usual panel of buyers, drove prices dearer.

Prices edge higherAt the close of Tuesday’s markets, the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator was up 3.75¢ week-on-week, finishing at 451.25¢/kg cwt. Trade steers eased 6¢ on last week, averaging 230¢, while medium steers improved 1¢, averaging 217¢/kg.

Feeder steers were firm, averaging 247¢, while heavy steers improved 8¢, finishing at 237¢/kg. Medium cows averaged 197¢, up 6¢/kg week-on-week.

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Nufarm slashes Euro operations

HOT on the heels of Doug Rathbone’s departure as Nufarm long-running managing director, the crop protection company has announced major cuts to its European manufacturing activities.

Mr Rathbone had led the company for 15 years. He will receive a termination payment of $1,643,193 plus statutory entitlements. A search is already underway for his replacement, said chairman Don McGauchie, with group executive for commercial operations, Greg Hunt appointed chief operating officer and acting CEO.

Mr McGauchie yesterday reiterated the company’s “aggressive” plan to rein in costs, announcing a $100 million cost reduction program alongside a separate program to reduce working capital.

In the past two years Nufarm’s ­earnings have been battered by severe dry weather in Australia.

“The changes will result in a more efficient manufacturing base in Europe and will improve our competitiveness on a global basis”Closure of the manufacturing plant in The Netherlands and efficiency programs in France and the UK are proposed to shave about $23 million a year from Nufarm’s business costs.

The rationalisation will involve one-off restructuring costs of about $44m and will take place in the next 18 months.

It follows a similar re-organisation of Nufarm’s Australian and New Zealand manufacturing businesses last year, which involves cutting six production site down to three.

Plants at Otahuhu in NZ and Lytton in Brisbane will close before June 2016 and the Welshpool site in Western Australia closed at Christmas, to achieve annual savings of about $16m.

In Europe Nufarm is aiming to slash unit costs of one of its most important herbicide products, MCPA, as well as several other crop chemical products distributed globally.

“The changes will result in a more efficient manufacturing base in Europe and will improve our competitiveness on a global basis as well as reduce supply chain complexity,” said operations group executive, Elbert Prado.

The move was in support of efforts to improve the herbicide, pesticide and fungicide company’s working capital across its global network.

Capacity at the Wyke plant near Bradford in Yorkshire and Gaillon in France will be increased to compensate for the closure at Botlek in Holland, which will involve the loss of 50 jobs.

Nufarm’s European executive general manager, Hugo Schweers said the commitment to increase capacity in Wyke and Gaillon would support strong growth in the company’s European business brands in coming years.

“We will strengthen our capabilities and capacity in key product areas including insecticides and fungicides as we continue to expand our presence in European markets,” he said.

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WA drags national crop up

WESTERN Australia bucked the trend of lower than average production for 2014-15, with State bulk handler CBH recording its fourth biggest year of receivals on record.

The surprisingly good performance in the west was critical in dragging national crop production for 2014-15 to near average levels.

CBH general manager of operations David Capper said WA growers delivered 13.52 million tonnes into his company’s network this season.

He said this figure was higher than expected, especially considering some areas had issues with a dry spring and others faced losses due to heavy harvest rain.

WA Farmers grains section president Kim Simpson said the production was a good result.

“There was obviously a fairly wide area that did have a good year, although there were people who did miss out, but it balanced out to be a fairly substantial harvest, although not as big as the year before.”

Mr Simpson said a key reason behind the production gains over the past few years had been a substantial increase in acreage in potentially high yielding areas.

“The more marginal areas have had their problems, but where we have seen the big changes is in traditionally grazing areas.

“With the good prices over the last few years, many have made the decision to switch some land from grazing to cropping.

“It’s important to overall production, because it is in the higher rainfall areas where they can grow big amounts of grain.”

Mr Capper said the harvest was about 3mt more than CBH’s 10 year average.

He said the run of good years would mean CBH is now cashed up to embark on a large capital expenditure program.

“To have had three above average crops over the past four years, that has given us the opportunity to invest in both maintenance and upgrade the network,” he said.

He said the most significant upgrade last year was a $15 million upgrade at Esperance, bringing in automated sampling spears and the ability to sample and weigh at the same time, speeding up turnaround times.

The harvest itself was one of the longest on record with rain events holding up proceedings and some growers still delivering small quantities of grain in the Esperance and Albany zones.

Mr Capper said other challenges this year were created by the closure of Tier 3 rail lines by Brookfield Rail, forcing CBH to outload the previous year’s record harvest via road before this year’s receivals began.

CBH and Brookfield Rail are currently undergoing negotiations for future rail access through the Economic Regulation Authority.

CBH is now entering a heavy export program until April and Mr Capper said he expected work to start on a new CBH Albany site in the coming weeks once final approvals were received.

Mr Simpson said there would potentially be a small drop in WA acreage for the 2015-16 if there was no late summer rain in reaction to both falling grain prices and rising livestock prices.

However, he said he did not think it would be a dramatic change in planting size.

“There may be some small changes, but those guys who have got out of livestock will probably struggle to get back in, given store livestock prices at present, and the vast majority of the area planted is locked in year after year.

“A lot depends on the next two or three months, if we can get the tail-end of a cyclone and get some soaking rain to put moisture into the profile leading into the 2015 plant.

“If we can get a good summer rain, it sets us up with the potential for a big crop.”

He said different parts of the State had recorded different standout crops.

“In the dry areas, it was the cereals that were better, as you would expect, but we also had some reports of very good yields in canola in areas with a bit better spring.”

He said the vast majority of the State’s crop was in the CBH network.

“There’s been a couple of loads go out through Bunge’s Bunbury terminal and there is some grain on-farm, but not a lot.

“The grain stored on-farm will mainly be by mixed farmers looking to store some feed grain in case of a dry autumn.”

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ACCC ‘out of touch’ on JBS, says Williams

NSW Nationals Senator John Williams is seething at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) decision to not oppose the takeover of the Primo Group by JBS Australia.

In a strongly worded statement today, Senator Williams accused the ACCC of being out of touch with market reality.

The decision is likely to cause headaches for the Nationals and Coalition government facing under increasing pressure to implement reforms that will alleviate pressures on livestock producers from constricted supply chain competition.

Senator Williams said the ACCC’s decision to not oppose the proposed $1.45 billion acquisition of Primo was “very disappointing in my opinion”.

He said as part of the review process, he lodged submissions on behalf of concerned people in the livestock industry and their “common worry” was that the takeover would lessen competition at the saleyards.

Read more: ACCC green lights JBS takeover

Senator Williams said the ACCC agreed there was “some lessening” of competition – but then claims “it is not a substantial lessening”.

He said the ACCC also claimed Primo wasn’t a strong competitive restraint on JBS and tried to justify the distance of more than 500 kilometres between Primo’s Scone abattoir and JBS’s Queensland abattoirs to support its case.

“This is out of touch with reality because cattle can and are transported many hundreds, even thousands of kilometres,” he said.

“I find it confusing that on one hand the ACCC will not oppose this acquisition, yet in the next breath says it is wary of the potential impact of the further consolidation of abattoirs.

“If that is true, why didn’t it act in this instance?

“From talking with farmers and those in the livestock selling industry I know this decision will be met with dismay and only time will tell whether it is right.”

Keeping an eye on future bidsThe ACCC received submissions from “a range of interested parties”, who expressed concern that the proposed acquisition would result in less competition in the fat cattle market in northern NSW and Queensland.

Farmers and meat retailers are increasingly frustrated by consolidation of meat processing activities which are limiting the choice of independent meatworks bidding for livestock or offering service kill options to producers or butchers.

“The ACCC undertook a detailed assessment and determined that Primo is currently not a strong competitive constraint on JBS,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“Furthermore, the increase in market share as a result of the proposed acquisition would be relatively small and JBS would continue to be constrained in the market for the acquisition of fat cattle by a number of alternative abattoirs and supermarket chains, in the northern NSW and southern Queensland region.”

While the ACCC determined that, in this instance, the proposed acquisition would be unlikely to raise significant competition concerns, the watchdog is wary of the potential impact of further consolidation of abattoirs.

“The ACCC will continue to monitor this industry and any future acquisitions will face additional scrutiny,” Mr Sims said.

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