Agriculture Victoria’s TIM HOLLIER sees himself as a go-between serving the interests of both lot feeding and the Victorian community as the need for intensive livestock production builds in a state where farmland is shrinking.
As manager of the beef program and red meat value chain for Agriculture Victoria, it is Tim’s role to interpret and advise on the NFAS Rules and Standards on behalf of government and alignment to Victorian Code for Cattle Feedlots, which governs the establishment and ongoing operation of feedlots within the state.
From his base at the Rutherglen Centre, he is the “go-to” source for shire councils, the responsible authority for approval of cattle feedlots in Victoria, seeking guidance on planning applications for feedlots within their boundaries. He is also Victoria’s representative on the Feedlot Industry Accreditation Committee (FLIAC), which oversees NFAS.
“My role is to look after the code and manage the advice to anybody who wants to utilise it – in other words, wants to put a feedlot in or has been approached by someone wanting to do that – whether it’s local planning officers or local environmental officers.”
He says there’s a fine line between making sure we’re not putting an impost of red-tape on farmers, and still meeting the environmental and community amenity needs of the planning scheme.
“Part of the rationale for us being on FLIAC is ensuring the self-regulated process of NFAS nationally aligns with Victoria.
“There’s a real opportunity for us to utilise NFAS to assist with the setup or establishment of a feedlot and, more importantly, with the ongoing management and operation so that feedlots meet and maintains a certain standard. That’s going to be a growing need going forward.
“NFAS allows feedlots to actually produce their product while still maintaining community expectations around amenity, environment and welfare, in particular.
The Scheme needs to keep current to ensure it continues to meet customer and community expectations says Hollier, who welcomes the recent changes to the scheme which came into effect on March 1.
“They are minor and should not cause any issues for our feedlots – it’s a good opportunity for them to review their procedures.
He says the single biggest factor limiting agricultural expansion in Australia is a lack of arable land.
“We’re not going to have any more of that; in fact, we’re going to have less as Melbourne and regional centres grow.
“We’ll have to become more productive so we’ll have to have more intensive practices to make farming businesses viable. We have to come up with the business models that will do that while still meeting the community expectations and the market access requirements.
“It we want to continue to grow demand for beef, we have to keep the quality there, thus the need for systems like NFAS.”