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Ag News

Weekly Agribusiness News Recap

  • By: "Prime" Ag News
  • Jun 14, 2019

This article is bought to you by RFM No Till

By Georgia Devenish - Agricultural Research Analyst at JLL

Livestock
While volume of lamb consumed in the domestic market has been on a slight downward trend since 2015, research released by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) suggests per capita value of consumption has risen significantly. In five years the value of consumption has risen from just over $80 per person to close to $90 in 2019. While the price of fresh protein has been increasing across all categories, the average price paid for lamb has increased at a faster rate than other proteins. Despite this, the increase demand for lamb looks to remain strong particularly as Australia continues to embrace cuisines from around the world.

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As the launch of its branded beef program - Five Founders - edges closer, the North Australian Pastoral Co (NAPCo) has announced it has become Australia's first corporate cattle producer to gain carbon neutral status. To claim carbon neutral status, NAPCo had its carbon footprint independently assessed to ensure it met the requirements of the voluntary standard set out under the National Carbon Offset Standard. The move attempts to both ensure the company's 'social licence' as well as respond to consumer behaviour which suggests this may be a potential method to gain a premium in the market.

Cropping
The Grain Industry Association of Western Australia's June report published this week suggests that total area sown to canola this season is an estimated 995,000 hectares, a drop of approximately 8.7 percent on the 2018/19 figure of 1.09 million hectares. The report also predicts that wheat area is likely to be historically low in Western Australia this season.

Circumstances in the domestic market (i.e. drought pushing up domestic wheat prices) are hurting Australia's wheat exports as price sensitive customers in key export markets turn to cheaper suppliers. Australia's price competitiveness has actually improved over the last two months but volumes export remain low. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported that wheat container exports for April 2019 continued the trend of coming in at just above 40 percent of the five-year average. Approximately 75 percent of container exports are coming out of Western Australia and South Australia, not surprising given the seasonal conditions in the eastern states.

The Grains Industry Association of Western Australia is expecting the total winter crop plant within the state to fall to less than 8 million hectares. Grain analysts are now looking at crop prospects in southern Australia which benefited from some good rainfall over the last week. Farmers in northern New South Wales and Queensland are likely to face a third consecutive poor winter crop.

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The CBH Group has offered a fee discount of $0.50 per tonne to Western Australian farmers. Growers receive the discount in return for the early provision of crop estimates. The sharing of information assists CBH in site and service preparations for harvest. Data is entered through CBH's online mapping tool, 'Paddock Planner', which allows growers to keep their information up to date and accurate to a paddock level. Cropping plans and estimates must be entered by 14 July 2019 and they must use the CDF app for their harvest deliveries up to 28 February 2020 to receive the discount.

Wine/Vineyards
The first National Vineyard Scan has been completed using artificial intelligence and satellite imagery. This new technology replaces the old system of an ABS paper-based sector survey last published in 2015. Conducted by Consilium Technology on behalf of Wine Australia, the scan (which covered 5 million hectares) revealed the total area of vineyards in Australia was 146,128 hectares.

Total reported area in the 2015 survey was approximately 8 percent less than the Vineyard Scan reported area. Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer, Andreas Clark, said "if all of the difference between the two figures were to be taken into account, it would suggest growth of 11,000 hectares nationally in 3 years or about 4 percent average annual growth per year, which aligns with anecdotal reports of only very moderate increases in plantings over that time frame."

Dairy
Australian Consolidated Milk has announced a $7 per kilogram milk solids opening price. The company suggests the price is 40 cents per kilogram higher than the opening prices announced by Fonterra and Bega last month. The new price replaces the guaranteed minimum price of $6.50 for 2019/20 announced by the company in February, reflecting improvements in the dairy market and the weakening of the Australian dollar.

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Saputo Dairy Australia has announced an opening price for 2019/20 of $6.80 per kilogram milk solids. Saputo saw the strong opening price as a reflection of improved export market conditions with the outlook that the positive conditions will continue throughout the coming year. The company will also be moving to a single price structure and quality standard for all suppliers in the southern milk region.

Investment
Queensland super fund, LGIAsuper, has committed to Folium Capital's agriculture and timber funds which include assets in Australia, Brazil, California, Chile, Iberia and Panama. The Queensland-based fund said the investment allowed it to tap into the worldwide megatrend of healthy eating. LGIAsuper head of investments, Guy Rundle, said “the depth of the agriculture sector right now reflects several trends, including consumer interest in healthy food, borrowing food ideas from other cultures, and year-round demand for seasonal produce.”

Property
High rainfall and access to irrigation is increasingly drawing investors and interstate interest to Tasmania. However, the majority of transactions remain between local farmers with a notable portion fueling demand by way of seeking opportunities to expand operations.

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'Epenarra Station' (265,800 hectares) in the lower Barkly Tableland has been sold to David and Suzanne Bassingthwaighte. The pastoral lease had been marketed with a sale price of $16 million, however the contracted sale price has not been disclosed. The property had been owned by Filipino property developer, Romeo Roxas, who also owned 'Pine Hill Station' (268,000 hectares) which sold in February 2019 for reportedly more than $10 million. These properties and Roxas other interest in the Norther Territory, 'Murray Downs', were listed for sale in October 2018. Roxas has reportedly indicated that he will retain 'Murray Downs'.