Good result at the International Dairy Week for the Hayden family.

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When the for sale sign goes up on your family farm, you sometimes do crazy things and this was one for the Haydens. A 21-hour journey down to Finley, they entered 2yr old heifer she placed 2nd and their 2 - 2.5yr old in milk heifer placed 1st and received the udder for class, and got reserve intermediate.

 Congratulations to the Hayden family and team on their success at the International Dairy Week.

Training support for farmers during hard times.

TAFE Queensland’s Rural Support Training Program for 2019 begins today, with Esk, Warwick and Kingaroy set to benefit first.

Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman said the program provides much needed training support to farmers and communities severely affected by drought.

“In tough times we need to work together and innovate,” Ms Fentiman said.

“We want to ensure we can support our farmers by providing training opportunities to improve their farming operations and increase opportunities for off-farm income.”

“This TAFE Queensland program will be very valuable to farmers and drought affected communities, giving them opportunity to gain new skills to be able to embrace new business opportunities.

The first Rural Support Training Program was delivered in Gatton from the 10 – 14 December 2018.

Participant feedback on the chemicals, chainsaw and machinery washdown training completed was excellent.

“The success of the first program has seen increased enquiry levels for this round of the program,” she said.

“The five different programs on offer, provide training in a range of areas including work health and safety, chemicals, chainsaws, hospitality, Microsoft skills to pre-employment skills to help gain employment in the construction and infrastructure and resource industries.”

The focus on safety components of the program provides an additional opportunity for farmers to improve their skills and safety awareness which should result in improvement in safety performance on farms once the farms are able to provide sustainable revenues post the drought.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the program offered flexible and practical training.

“Modern agricultural industry needs diverse training that can be delivered in a practical way, and this program delivers on that,” Mr Furner said.

“During tough drought conditions, this program is an important contributor to these communities.”

TAFE Queensland chief executive Mary Campbell said the training would help farmers engage with their local communities and increase off-farm revenue opportunities.

“The drought has affected the majority of Queensland, and with no immediate signs of reprieve

“We believe that offering genuine support to farmers is a valuable investment to help them enhance their skills and value add to their business in the future.

“Farmers are kept busy with a continuous body of work to maintain their farms and they need flexible training, which is why we’ve worked with the Queensland Government to develop the Rural Support Training Program.  

Programs are short-term and enable farmers to accommodate daily travel time and schedule farm tasks before and after the classes.

At this stage the programs have been scheduled until mid-April 2019. 

“We will continue to add programs as locations are negotiated with local communities,” said Ms Campbell.

The Rural Support Training Program is an initiative of the Palaszczuk Government’s Regional Skills Adjustment Strategy.

Future rounds of the program are being planned in the next few months at Goondiwindi, Roma, St George, Toowoomba and Cunnamulla.

For more information about the Rural Support Training Programs, visit www.tafeqld.edu.au

Policing of WHS

Last week a NGIQ member of QFF had a first time visit from WHS inspectors targeting their compliance with the laws on storage and handling of any hazardous chemicals, and they were subsequently issued with an Infringement Notice and a $3,400 fine for not having a register listing all the chemicals in their storage (a small cabinet – see picture below). It is understood that in December 2018 the department mandated that when an Improvement Notice is issued an Infringement Notice is also automatically issued (on a select range of matters). Even though this was a small family business, as they are registered as a company they have received a corporate level fine. The Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Policy Workplace Health and Safety Queensland December 2018 is available here.

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Queensland District Court decision of Andrew McHugh v BKE relating to liability for a quad bike accident.

The key is that the judge decided that “the quad bike was inadequate for use in mustering on the property, there was a foreseeable risk of injury which the [farm] did nothing to adequately control. It did not exercise reasonable care to make the quad bike safe to ensure [the operator] was able to undertake the task of safely mustering the cattle.” Significantly, the judge expressly stated that the failure to provide a CPD, seatbelts, an alternative vehicle (e.g. a side-by-side), or to conduct a safety audit were all important components of the breach. The judge accepted that, given the operator’s experience riding quad bikes and knowledge of the terrain — i.e. growing up on a farm and living near the site of the incident — his own negligence contributed 20% to the injury. However, that was “significantly lesser in degree than the [farm’s] breach in providing … dangerous vehicles regularly involved in fatal incidents even with experienced drivers.” Judgement was entered for the operator in the amount of $400,000.

Following this decision it’s possible that any farm which allows someone to use an unprotected quad bike will bear common law (as opposed to worker comp) liability for any injury which the user suffers as a result of an accident. This would certainly extend to employees, but arguable anyone who uses their quad bikes with permission.

Dairy farm audits find nearly half have no safety policy in place.

Audits of Queensland dairies have found forty-three per cent have no written WHS policy in place and fifteen per cent have only a verbal policy.

Of equal concern, given the high rate of quad bike incidents in Queensland, the audits found nearly 38 per cent of workers never or rarely wear a helmet when riding a quad bike. As well, most businesses believed they didn’t require a traffic management plan. Others reckoned they should have a plan, but hadn’t actually addressed the issue.

The audits were carried out last year under a new work safety program for the state's dairy industry which aims to improve the capacity of business owners and managers to manage safety. The ongoing program is compliance focused, but safety tips and advice have also been provided, including the Serious about farm safety guide.

The program was launched after injury statistics revealed 117 claims for serious injuries over the last five years and one fatality, with 21 per cent of claims caused by livestock and 10 per cent involving vehicles. The majority of injuries were related to joints/ligaments/muscles, fractures and lacerations, with almost half of the injuries involving upper limbs, a quarter lower limbs and 14 per cent to the body/trunk.

Anecdotal evidence indicated the industry’s high-risk issues included livestock handling; electrical safety; quad bikes; chemicals; and machinery. Manual handling risks, zoonotic diseases and mental health were also prevalent.

The on-farm visits were completed late last year in South East Queensland, with 47 dairies audited in the Scenic Rim, Darling Downs, Sunshine Coast and South Burnett regions. Nearly two-thirds of businesses indicated they would be interested in attending a face-to-face workshop on work health and safety.

Apart from the disappointing WHS policy, traffic management and quad bike issues exposed, the audits also revealed:

  • risk assessments were rarely or never completed by 38% of businesses

  • safety induction training was completed often by 38% of businesses and sometimes by 32%, but over a quarter of the businesses rarely or never provided training and induction

  • only 38% of businesses reported having control measures in place for working at heights but more work is needed to boost safety, particularly for climbing silos

  • fewer than a quarter (23%) of the businesses had measures in place to manage the health and safety of visitors

  • for diseases management, a quarter of the group had no measures in place to manage the risk of zoonotic diseases for QFever vaccinations and the same amount said no-one had been vaccinated, while 13% had only some people vaccinated.

The next phase of the program will start in March, looking at the overall WHS compliance of the businesses, including machinery and guarding, electrical, chemicals, quad bikes, zoonoses, working at heights and safety management systems.

If you'd like advice on how to manage safety, Dairy Australia (DA) has developed a Dairy Farm Safety Kit which was rolled out nationally in 2018. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland supported the DA workshops and provided advice on safety legislation and compliance.

Responding to on-farm activism.

1.Prepare

It’s not possible to entirely protect your farm from being the target for activists. Perhaps the best protection from activism is trying to limit the visibility of farm operation which may attract the attention of activists from public roads, such as calving sheds, calving pads, hospital paddocks, animals awaiting knackery collection and anywhere animals may be receiving veterinary care.

  • Limit unannounced visitors to your farm through clear Biosecurity signs at all entrances, requiring visitors to request approval before entry.

  • Write down protocols for yourself and staff if they encounter an intruder. This could include: local police numbers, if and how they should be approached, and what information they should record if they suspect an intruder (car description and plate numbers, description of individuals, where they were, if anything was taken or damaged).

  • Consult the dedicated NFF web page for advice on what steps you can take to limit the publication of your farm’s location - farmers.org.au/news/fighting-back-against-the-activist-farm-map/.

  • Think twice about having veterinarians performing treatments in areas highly visible to the public.

  If you do become aware of or suspect unauthorised access to your farm:

2.Communicate

  • Keep calm and approach the activists, asking them to leave the property.

  • If they are not willing to leave, make clear your intention to contact the local police, and follow through if required.

  • If possible, ask the group to identify the organisation they are affiliated with.

  • Ensure you communicate with staff and any farm visitors to let them know about the situation and give clear instructions as to what work can safely continue, or otherwise where they should gather.

  • Try to manage your response to avoid accusations of inappropriate aggression or criminal threat, including confronting the activists carrying anything which could be perceived as a weapon.

3.Secure the property

  • Secure all on-farm facilities possible - lock sheds and gates, limit access throughout the property as much as possible. 

  • If aspects of operations are open to public, for example retail or hospitality operations, consider the safety and reputational risks and decide whether there is a need to close.  If so, think about the need to communicate this on social media or through other channels to those who may be affected by your unexpected closure.

4.Police involvement

  • If there is a threat to life (or a crime is in progress), call 000 immediately.

  • Nuisance and/or threatening calls should be reported in person to a police station. These cannot be dealt with over the phone by PoliceLink. (PoliceLink can however, collect information about the event and add it to a database.)

  • A diary should be kept of nuisance calls including time, date, number and content of the call.

  • It is illegal to record a call without the knowledge of the other party to the call.

  • On-line threats can also be reported to the Australian Cybercrime On-Line Reporting Network (ACORN) htpps://www.acorn.gov.au

5.Prepare for media

  • The activity may attract local media attention, or discussions online through social media. If comments are posted directly to your business or family page, resist the urge to respond in the heat of the moment.

  • If comments are abusive, contain expletives, or directed to you or your family or staff you should hide and delete the post, and consider blocking the poster from your accounts. 

Applications now open for Graduate project officer.

The Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) is the peak industry body representing the interests of and providing services to Queensland dairy farmers, with some 65% of Queensland dairy farmers being members. QDO is seeking to fill the position of graduate project officer.

The QDO graduate project officer will:

  • Undertake a range of extension activities with dairy farmers and administration tasks across a range of QDO projects

  • Assist with natural resource management projects including Rural Water Use Efficiency and the reef which focus on assisting farmers improve irrigation, sediment and nutrient management

  • Assist with the Energy savers program which undertakes energy audits of dairy farms and changing practices to reduce electricity use

  • Collecting samples from dairy farms to undertake Johnes Disease testing

  • Assist with programs aimed at improving farmers financial capacity and resilience

  • Work constructively as part of a small team

Candidates should demonstrate competency in:

  • Knowledge / experience in the dairy or other agricultural industries

  • Enthusiast person willing to get their hands dirty and achieve goals

  • Relevant tertiary qualifications preferred but not essential

This is a 1 year full-time contract suitable for graduates and people with limited professional work experience. You must be an Australian Citizen or have permanent residential status to be considered.

Please apply by 5pm Friday 1 February, 2019.

Search for Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation on Seek.com.au or use this link to find details and to apply or if you know of anyone that might qualify please send this on.

Disappointing response to first round of Mandatory Code of Conduct consultations.

Beyond what was in the final report into a Mandatory Code of Conduct and the first round of consultations, the ACCC still refuses to acknowledge what farmers, processors and even a NSW state parliamentary inquiry all agree on; that the supermarkets have a very clear role and responsibility into the price paid back to dairy farmers.

The issue of predatory pricing is not confined to dairy or even just agriculture. Rumours and reports of this behaviour applies across all FMCG products. Though goods with a short shelf life tend to be more susceptible to market pressures since they cannot be stockpiled.

While the Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation usually only advocates on its members’ behalf, it is clear that a holistic national approach to reform is necessary.

Queensland’s dairy industry has lost several farms due to conditions caused by drought and low farmgate prices. With many areas like the Darling Downs still only receiving intermittent rainfall more farmers are likely to close before clement weather. Reduced to under 350 farms across all 5 dairy regions, and with the smallest capital population on the eastern seaboard, we need the collective support of Victoria and New South Wales to truly have an impact

Matthew Trace – Vice President

Request for participation in JD control survey.

Dr. Paul Burden is a large animal veterinarian having worked in dairy practice in Australia and currently enrolled in the MSc programme at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary, Canada.

He is researching the factors that influence decision making regarding Johne’s disease (JD) control on dairy farms and addresses the benefits and drawbacks of JD control policy, as perceived by Australian dairy farmers.

If you would like to participate in this survey click on the link below.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Australian_Dairy_Farmers_Attitudes_to_JD_Control

The objectives are to (a) understand perceived catalysts and barriers to JD control, (b) understand the role of a vaccine in a control strategy, and (c) how the learnings from Australian JD control programs may apply to JD control in Canada.

The survey asks farmers to answer a series of questions regarding dairy farm characteristics, animal health and biosecurity, attitudes and perceptions of the benefits and drawbacks of JD control programs, and some basic demographics. All responses are anonymous and will be aggregated; no individual responses will be identifiable.

If you have any questions or concerns or would like to know more about the study, please don’t hesitate to contact Dr Burden paul.burden1@ucalgary.ca. You can also visit the homepage of the bigger project which my research forms a part of at http://revampvaccines.ca

Reef Alliance project delivers reef-wide results.

Queensland farmers have continued to embrace practice change and make on-farm improvements to reduce and manage agriculture’s impact on the Great Barrier Reef through the Reef Alliance’s Growing a Great Barrier Reef project.

While farmers have often been viewed by some as scapegoats for the Reef’s problems, they have been proactively working to minimise soil loss, fertiliser application and pesticide runoff from farms to safeguard the future of the Reef.

With year two of the project now complete, the Reef Alliance has released its 2018 Impact Statement detailing the work done to advance on-farm understanding and fast track the implementation of innovative practices.

Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) CEO Travis Tobin said the second year of the project focused on improving the quality of water entering Great Barrier Reef and achieved real results.

“In the International Year of the Reef, more than 40 dedicated extension officers engaged with 1,332 landholders to deliver over 18,430 hours of one-on-one customised farm planning and personalised technical advice,” Mr Tobin said.

“As a result, 206,570 hectares of farmland throughout Queensland’s Reef catchments have demonstrated practice change to safeguard the future of the Reef.”

“While the continued implementation of a single database to manage practice change and extension information across five Reef catchments allows the Alliance to chart a ‘reef-wide story’.”

“Farmers excelling in their roles as environmental stewards, extension officers and community members that contribute to better water quality outcomes were recently recognised by the 2018 Reef Champion Awards.”

“Innovative nitrogen reduction practices, dedicated approaches to extension, revegetation of farms and conservation of wetlands and riparian areas are just some of the success stories of the agricultural sector working to protect the Reef.”

“These important actions are making huge improvements to the quality of the water leaving the farm and significantly contributing to the health of the Great Barrier Reef.”

“But most of the progress is yet to come, as the hard work done over the last two years of the project is leveraged in the third year to deliver greater results.”

A full breakdown of the project’s second year results are available in the 2018 Impact Statement on the QFF website: www.qff.org.au/projects/reef-alliance/growing-great-barrier-reef/.

The Reef Alliance Growing a Great Barrier Reef Project is funded by the Australian Government Reef Trust Program and facilitated by QFF.

Source: QFF

South-East Queensland’s Fertigation Project Wraps Up

The Dairying Better ‘n Better program’s on-farm fertigation demonstration has finished, following a second year of monitoring.

The project was undertaken in the 2017 and 2018 ryegrass seasons at McInnes Brothers dairy farm at Harrisville, in south east Queensland. Monitoring was undertaken in the two consecutive years under irrigated, grazed, ryegrass to compare fertigation against traditional broadcast methods of applying nitrogen fertiliser on a south-east Queensland dairy farm. A centre pivot irrigation system was used in the project.

One quarter of the pivot area was fertilised after grazing with Easy N liquid fertiliser, and one quarter was fertilised with broadcasted urea as a comparison. The Easy N liquid fertiliser was purchased in 1,000L shuttles for this trial. An EcoDoseTM Fertigation System injector pump was purchased for the trial. Pat Daley, Irrigation Agronomist from Daley’s Water Service Pty Ltd, provided the advice and support for the purchase, installation and use of the fertigation system.

Soil moisture monitoring equipment (EnviroPro SDI 12 unit with a tipping bucket) was installed in each quarter to monitor irrigation and rainfall. Pasture dry matter was measured before and after grazing, and results indicated that the fertigation quarter was slightly ahead on pasture growth. Pasture dry matter yield was measured pre and post grazing to compare the two systems. Soil moisture monitoring equipment was installed to assist with irrigation scheduling, and fertiliser and irrigation events were recorded.

Benefits of the fertigation system included labour and fuel savings, which then lead on to cost savings on repairs and maintenance of machinery.  The liquid fertiliser is immediately available to the plants and can be distributed more evenly (provided the irrigation system has an even distribution uniformity) compared with granular fertilisers. Applying smaller amounts more often enables a more optimum growth rate, and liquid fertilisers aren’t as volatile, reducing potential losses to the atmosphere.

Considerations prior to purchase include upfront setup costs, and uniformity of application is only as good as the DU of the irrigation system, therefore need a low pressure system with good DU. In times of extended wet weather may still need a spreader to avoid unnecessary irrigation applications (and for application of nutrients other than nitrogen)

Observations made during the project included:

  • The EcoDoseTM fertigation pump was relatively inexpensive to purchase.

  • The fertigation quarter was less labour intensive than the broadcasted quarter.

  • Managing the soil moisture profile with the assistance of soil probes was effective. Grazing management is a key factor of a cost effective ryegrass season.

  • Getting the right advice upfront when considering fertigation should ensure that the right size injector unit is purchased.

  • Soil testing prior to planting highlighted potassium deficiencies, if not corrected there may have been an adverse effect on pasture growth.

  • No detrimental effects were observed to applying nitrogen through the pivot, smaller amounts of nitrogen were applied regularly as opposed to one big application.

  • A comparison of the true cost of each option demonstrates that buying in bulk (setting up a bulk storage tank holding 19,000L) will generally be more cost effective than the constant purchase of 1,000L shuttles.

In 2017 the project was funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, and in 2018 was funded through the Dairy and Fodder Water for Profit program. The project was delivered by the Dairying Better ‘n Better program, a joint initiative of Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation and Subtropical Dairy, with support from the Dairy and Fodder Water for Profit program.