New advisory council to help develop agriculture into the future

Queensland farmers and their communities are one step closer to achieving a vision for the future of agriculture in the state following continued advocacy by the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) and industry members.
 
The establishment of the Agricultural Ministerial Advisory Council (AgMAC) has been welcomed by QFF as a positive first step in addressing and genuinely working through issues the sector is facing.
 
QFF President Stuart Armitage said QFF and industry members were looking forward to working with government to progress and resolve agricultural issues and build a more strategic approach by government towards the sector.
 
“QFF has been advocating for AgMAC to be established for some time. We didn’t quite get it up and running last Parliament, so it is encouraging that the Queensland Government has committed to doing something about it early in its new term,” Mr Armitage said.
 
“Many of the issues impacting on agriculture are complex, with various competing government policy priorities and objectives. AgMAC provides a forum to address these cross-portfolio challenges and achieve a more synergistic government policy for agriculture.”
 
“There is also a real need for long term orientation and investment to drive a more competitive and sustainable system. AgMAC is an opportunity for the government to back the sector by progressing some critical competitiveness and productivity issues, and exciting growth opportunities.”
 
“A strong, profitable and sustainable agricultural sector is good for everyone. Besides providing the highest quality food and clothing for people at home and abroad, it helps government balance the books, provides much needed regional economic stability and meaningful employment, and enables better environmental outcomes to be delivered.”
 
“AgMAC has the opportunity to re-establish the agricultural sector as a strategic economic pillar – something that farmers are looking for and all Queenslanders benefit from.”

The first AgMAC meeting will be held next month.

Source: QFF

Budget doesn't stack up for Queensland agriculture.

The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) and industry members are underwhelmed by a lacklustre 2018-19 State Budget that lacks vision and overlooks the important role agriculture plays in Queensland’s economy.
 
QFF CEO Travis Tobin said that while the Queensland Government had delivered on its election commitments, this year’s Budget was again a missed opportunity to address some critical competitiveness and productivity issues, and exciting growth opportunities for the sector, which would benefit all Queenslanders.
 
“Credit to the government for fully delivering on its election commitments, upholding biosecurity funding for the Red Imported Fire Ant and Panama Tropical Race 4 eradication programs and maintaining funding for existing drought relief arrangements,” Mr Tobin said.
 
However, Mr Tobin said that some of the critical and important bigger picture issues facing the sector had been ignored.
 
“We must start to see a higher priority and more strategic intent for agriculture in the government’s most significant annual document.”
 
“By 2030, two-thirds of the world’s middle class will be living in the Asia-Pacific region. To make the most of this demographic shift and subsequent demand for food and clothing, Queensland agriculture will need to intensify so we must address current competitiveness challenges and increase investment in the longer-term enablers and drivers of sustainable and profitable intensified production systems.”
 
“That means genuinely addressing electricity and water affordability and the productivity nexus between them, targeted connection infrastructure funding, and strategic spending on risk management to help deal with climate variability. Much of this was outlined before the last election.”
 
“We also need to reverse the continued divestment in the sector. While there is a slight increase in total portfolio funding this year, in real terms State Government spending on agriculture has decreased at an average annual rate of 1.7% over the last 15 years.”
 
“With the government’s effort to make sure election commitments were funded now out of the way, it is time to refocus the agenda on targeted and strategic investment that will help drive the sector forward to capitalise on the opportunities that exist.”
 
“We have waited a long time for the Agricultural Ministerial Council to be established, so when it does finally get off the ground, the sector’s competitiveness, productivity and development must be its focus.”

QFF welcomes Water Measurement and Compliance Report

The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) has welcomed the Final Report of the Queensland Government’s Independent Audit of Non-Urban Water Measurement and Compliance.
 
The report was tabled at the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council on Water Reform, which met in Canberra last Friday to discuss progress and the next steps to support full implementation of the Basin Plan, including measures to address concerns triggered by alleged illegal taking of water and non-compliance on the Barwon Darling river system in NSW.
 
QFF President Stuart Armitage said the audit has made recommendations for reform in a number of areas to ensure that Queensland had an adequate system in place to manage irrigation water not just in the Queensland catchments of the Murray-Darling Basin but across all irrigation areas in the state.
 
“The audit has focussed on the need for significant improvement of compliance and information management systems in the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy,” Mr Armitage said.
 
“Implementation of a metering standard for both supplemented and unsupplemented water users backed by adequate checks for installation and accuracy of meters was also recommended.”
 
“QFF recognises the importance of good metering and responsive irrigation water use information systems to help government manage compliance and ensure irrigators are informed about their water entitlements and their use of available supply.”
 
“The State Government has made a commitment to implement a reform program to address the audit recommendations but at this stage, there are no details about how the significant costs of implementing the state-wide program will be met.”
 
“Agreement reached in Canberra last week on funding for water meters to improve compliance only deals with the Murray-Darling Basin.”
 
“Queensland irrigators do not have the capacity to shoulder added costs while trying to cope with rising electricity charges and new rural water pricing.”
 
“The Queensland Government now needs to work closely with QFF, its industry members and local irrigation communities to address how best to implement the reform package without compromising irrigation businesses and their productivity.”

Source: Queensland Farmers Federation

Riverfire 2018 Photo Competition

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The 29th September, Brisbane's city lights up for Riverfire and QDO members are invited to enter a photo competition to have first dibs on tickets to one of the best viewing spots in town, QDO headquarters. The best dairy photos will feature in social media and other marketing material. The Top 5 will be given the first opportunity to watch Riverfire from our prime viewing position. Entries will close 10 July and winners announced 13th in the Weekly Update so get snapping!

Terms and conditions: Members agree to full release of usage rights of photos to QDO for use in marketing material. Up to 5 tickets will be given to each winner. Winners need to RSVP to Riverfire no later than 31 July.

National Minimum Wage increase

The Fair Work Commission today handed down a Decision increasing the National Minimum Wage by 3.5% with effect from the beginning of the first pay period commencing on or after 1 July 2018.

This means the NMW will increase by $24.30 per week or $0.64 per hour to $719.20 and $18.93 respectively. Award wage rates will also be increased by 3.5%.

Provisional new wage sheets will be published on the Primary Employers Queensland website prior to 1 July 2018. We will inform members via the Weekly Update once they are posted.

QCA offers no bright spark for agriculture

The Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) released its final determination on 2018-19 regulated retail electricity prices for regional Queensland today, again ignoring farmers and other regional businesses on transitional and obsolete tariffs by not recommending network electricity price savings be passed on.

Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) President Stuart Armitage said that while there was some good news for regional households who would see typical bills fall by 1.3%, and small businesses on tariff 20 who will see a 3.4% drop, there was no relief for farming businesses on transitional and obsolete tariffs.

“While the reductions for regional households and some small businesses are good news, they hardly roll-back the increases from last year let alone offer any real price relief,” Mr Armitage said.

“And it is very disappointing that the QCA has maintained the 2017-18 price levels for transitional and obsolete tariffs, the tariffs that many farming businesses are still on, despite QCA acknowledging that Ergon’s network charges and generation costs are declining.”

“Irrigation electricity tariffs in Queensland have risen a minimum of 136% over the past decade, and for some more than 200%, while CPI has increased by just 24% over the same period. Yet today, we did not even see a one per cent relief in irrigation and some business tariffs.”

“Many regional customers face further bill increases in excess of 50% when they are forced on to standard tariffs mid-2020.”

“Last year there were 698 small business disconnections by Ergon Retail – a substantial increase in the 384 disconnections recorded in 2015-16. This year, we have seen over 200 more small regional business disconnections – a major contributor to this decline has been the high cost of electricity.”

“Downward pressure on electricity prices must be across the board,” said Mr Armitage.

Source: Queensland Farmers Federation

Farmers prepare for milk price index.

Work on the milk price index is well underway and a mid-year timeline now set for its release. Australian Dairy Farmers last week received a briefing on key elements of the index, a major election commitment of former Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce that aims to help farmers better understand and interpret price signals.

“The index is not a magic bullet, but if done right will importantly provide independent and transparent market information to dairy farmers that is easily accessible and useful in making decisions about their businesses,” ADF President Terry Richardson said.

The index will include:

  • an index of commodity prices received by Australian dairy processors for cheese, butter, skim milk powder and whole milk powder exports updated monthly, plus a one-year forecast, which will be updated quarterly;
  • a regional, retrospective farmgate milk price index, which farmers will be asked to provide price data via an online form to build; and
  • regular global, national and regional economic commentary will accompany the indexes.

“The retrospective farmgate milk price index will depend on the participation of farmers to provide data,” Mr Richardson said. “The more dairy farmers submit their pricing data regularly, the more valuable the index will be.”

Deloitte Access Economics has been contracted to provide economic modelling and analysis. Education material will also be produced that can be delivered to farmers at dairy industry events.

“The index will include an awareness and education component to help dairy farmers understand what the index means for them and how they could consider it in their business planning,” Mr Richardson said.

Once the index is released, farmers are encouraged to give feedback to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Feedback and questions can be emailed to milkpriceindex@agriculture.gov.au

NSW dominates Queensland Cheese & Dairy Show

Leading the medal tally in the bovine categories in the ROYAL QUEENSLAND FOOD & WINE SHOW CHEESE & DAIRY PRODUCE COMPETITION  announced last Friday was New South Wales taking home 75 medals followed by Victoria (69), Queensland (60), Tasmania (33) and South Australia (9). However, it was Victoria that took out the coveted Champion Dairy Product of Show for Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese - Oak Blue.

Queensland independent processors were well represented with The Natural Yoghurt Company taking home Champion Dairy Dessert Or Yoghurt Of Show for George's Authentic Greek Ginger Yoghurt.

Queensland's winners were: 

Gold
Mould Ripened Cheese – White: Pure Artisan Cheese Black Ash Triple Cream Brie
Desserts - Chocolate Mousse: Kenilworth Dairies Rich Chocolate
Desserts - Full Fat, Any Other Flavour: The Natural Yoghurt Company George's Authentic Greek Ginger Yoghurt
White Milk - Full Fat - Unhomogenised - 3.3% Fat or Greater: Maleny Dairies Maleny Dairies Farmers Choice Guernsey Milk
White Milk - Reduced Fat - Less than 3.3% Fat: Maleny Dairies Maleny Dairies Low Fat 98% Fat Free Milk
White Milk - Modified, Full or Reduced Fat: Norco Foods Norco Lactose Free Full Cream Milk
Coffee Flavoured Milk - Full Fat: Norco Foods Real Iced Coffee Double
Pure Cream: Maleny Dairies Maleny Dairies Real Cream
Silver
Cheddar Cheese – Other: Mike Reeve Red Leicester
Washed Rind Cheese: Bunya Cheese Bunya Red 1kg
Washed Rind Cheese: Bunya Cheese Kingaroy Red 200g
Mould Ripened Cheese – White: Bunya Cheese Bunya Black 1kg
Mould Ripened Cheese – White: Bunya Cheese Bunya Gold 200g
Desserts - Fruit Yoghurt - Full Fat, Any Fruit Flavour: The Natural Yoghurt Company George's Authentic Greek Passion Yoghurt
Desserts - Fruit Yoghurt - Full Fat, Any Fruit Flavour: Maleny Cheese Maleny Gourmet Mango Yoghurt
Desserts - Fruit Yoghurt - Full Fat, Any Fruit Flavour: Maleny Cheese Maleny Gourmet Mixed Berry Yoghurt
Desserts - Fruit Yoghurt - Full Fat, Any Fruit Flavour: The Natural Yoghurt Company George's Authentic Greek Apple And Cinnamon Yoghurt
White Milk - Full Fat - Homogenised - 3.3% Fat or Greater: Maleny Dairies Maleny Dairies Full Cream Milk QLD
White Milk - Full Fat - Homogenised - 3.3% Fat or Greater: Norco Foods Norco Full Cream Milk
White Milk - Full Fat - Unhomogenised - 3.3% Fat or Greater: Mungalli Creek Dairy Misty Mountain Farms Pure Jersey Full Cream
White Milk - Full Fat - Unhomogenised - 3.3% Fat or Greater: Mungalli Creek Dairy Mungalli Creek Dairy Biodynamic Full Cream
White Milk - Reduced Fat - Less than 3.3% Fat: Norco Foods Norco Lite Milk
Chocolate Flavoured Milk - Full Fat: Norco Foods Real Iced Chocolate Ultimate
Strawberry Flavoured Milk - Full Fat: Norco Foods Real Iced Strawberry Supreme
Bronze:
Cheddar Cheese – Tasty: Mungalli Creek Dairy Farmhouse Cheddar Tasty and Mungalli Creek Dairy Biodynamic Farmhouse Cheddar Mild
Cheddar Cheese – Mature: Mike Reeve Clothbound Cheddar
Cheddar Cheese Vintage: Kenilworth Dairies Premium Vintage QLD
Feta – Traditional: Mungalli Creek Dairy Biodynamic Fetta
Fetta – Other: Pure Artisan Cheese Chilli and Garlic Feta
Club Cheese: Kenilworth Dairies Garlic & Pepper;  Sweet Chilli, Sour Cream & Bell Pepper; Lime & Cracked Pepper; Mango & Macadamia; Pickle Onion & Chives; Original Club Cheddar
Flavoured Cheese: Pure Artisan Cheese Truffle Triple Cream Brie
Washed Rind Cheese: Pure Artisan Cheese Washed Rind
Mould Ripened Cheese – White: Maleny Cheese Maleny Triple Cream Brie
Mould Ripened Cheese – White: Bunya Cheese Bunya White 200g
Mould Ripened Cheese – White: Bunya Cheese Bunya White 1kg
Mould Ripened Cheese – White: Bunya Cheese Bunya Gold 1kg
Mould Ripened Cheese – White: Pure Artisan Cheese Camembert
Mould Ripened Cheese – White: Pure Artisan Cheese Triple Cream Brie
Mould Ripened Cheese – Blue: Pure Artisan Cheese Millies Blue
Mould Ripened Cheese – Blue: Kenilworth Dairies Kenilworth Blue
White Milk - Full Fat - Homogenised - 3.3% Fat or Greater: Norco Foods Norco Pure Jersey Milk
White Milk - Full Fat - Homogenised - 3.3% Fat or Greater: Norco Foods Norco Organic Milk QLD
Chocolate Flavoured Milk - Full Fat: Mungalli Creek Dairy Mungalli Creek Dairy Biodynamic Bliss Iced Chocolate
Coffee Flavoured Milk - Full Fat: Norco Foods Real Iced Coffee Triple Shot
Coffee Flavoured Milk - Full Fat: Norco Foods Real Iced Coffee Original
Coffee Flavoured Milk - Full Fat: Parmalat Australia Ice Break Bold
Coffee Flavoured Milk - Full Fat: Mungalli Creek Dairy Mungalli Creek Dairy Biodynamic Bliss Iced Coffee
Strawberry Flavoured Milk - Full Fat: Parmalat Australia Oak Strawberry
Flavoured Milk - Reduced or Low Fat: Parmalat Australia Breaka Lime

Congratulations to all of the competitors. It is great to see so many processors represented. For the full list of winners, visit ROYAL QUEENSLAND FOOD & WINE SHOW CHEESE & DAIRY PRODUCE COMPETITION page.

Nothing off the table in dairy code review

ALL options will remain open to address relations between dairy farmers and milk processors as peak representative body the Australian Dairy Industry Council moves ahead with its 12-month review of the industry’s Code of Practice.

The Code was introduced in July last year and the farmer group committed at the time to undertake a review after a year to assess its effectiveness.

“ADIC is conducting a scheduled review of the Voluntary Code of Practice, which was agreed to by all state dairy farmer organisations,” ADIC Chairman Terry Richardson said.
 
“The review will determine how effective the Voluntary Code has been and whether it is necessary to adopt a different approach. This could be a prescribed voluntary code, mandatory code or another mechanism altogether. Nothing is off the table.”

Mr Richardson said the review would involve stakeholders across the dairy supply chain to ensure the best outcome for farmers.

“The Code of Practice is a vital part of restoring relationships across industry,” he said.
“We want to ensure we get the Code right and the review process is the best way to achieve that outcome.

“At this stage it would be wrong to pre-empt the outcome of the review.” It is expected the review will be complete by the end of June. Advocacy body Australian Dairy Farmers will then hold a series of forums aimed at educating farmers on how the recommendations will be implemented.
 

'Gobsmacked' Samuel calls for supermarket cops to settle disputes

Coles, Woolworths, Adli, and IGA-supplier Metcash would each have their own in-house supermarket cop to settle disputes with suppliers under a proposal being pushed by former consumer watchdog Graeme Samuel.

The "adjudicators" would be based on former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett's role as an independent arbiter at Coles, and would have the power to make binding decisions to resolve complaints and order compensation.

Mr Samuel will push for the positions to be made mandatory in his review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct, which was introduced three years ago following allegations of unfair conduct by the major supermarkets.

“I like the Kennett model, but it needs to be codified so that retailers will have to put in place independent, objective adjudicators whose determination is binding for the retailer," he told Fairfax Media on Wednesday.

Mr Samuel said there were similar roles used in the United Kingdom, and in Australia they would handle complaints and disputes that were too small and numerous for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which was there to prosecute systemic misbehaviour.

Source: Brisbanetimes.com.au