Narromine General Meeting
Clear skies and enthusiastic discussion were the key features behind this week’s general meeting in Narromine, as representatives from CGA’s arrived to consider Cotton Australia’s policy direction.
Opened by Cotton Australia Chairman, Andrew Watson, the one day session brought together a range of views from Cotton Grower Associations as well as an opportunity to provide updates on current issues being faced by the industry.
The quantum of the current Cotton Australia levy along with considering changes to the base grade were two of the bigger issues discussed at the meeting, along with an update from the Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay. A discussion on the human capacity requirements of the industry also generated good ideas and discussion.
Following the General Meeting, the Cotton Australia Board met in Narromine and had a chance for some discussion about the industry with Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Foresty, Joe Ludwig, who flew in to meet the board before getting a first hand look at cotton picking near Narromine.
A detailed review of the general meeting, “Members Memo” will now be produced and made available for all CGA’s.
Cotton Australia goes back to school for the inaugural Ag Careers Expo
Organisers estimate around 1000 students passed through the expo held at Farrer Memorial Agricultural High school on Thursday June 7th.
Cotton Australia’s Education Coordinator Sophie Davidson says she was impressed by the level of interest about cotton industry careers shown by students from years 7 – 12.
“The students were incredibly inquisitive, curious and enthusiastic and the teachers were keen to discuss programs and gather resources to share with their colleagues.”
She says the coordinated approach to education and training across the cotton industry on display at the Careers Expo meant students could be pointed towards a number of career options and pathways into cotton.
Depending on the student’s interest, these included school level programs such as PICSE, the Agrifood Career Access Pathways, Vocational Education programs , university courses, scholarships and internships as well as pathways to direct on farm employment.
“Because many relevant organisations who are providing different routes into cotton were represented means we were able to tell younger students about career pathways as well as providing older students with more direct information about getting started in a cotton career.
Cotton Australia assists Tsumani affected rice growers
Cotton Australia has reached out to help fellow farmers in Japan, hard hit by the earthquake and tsunami as they work to rejuvenate their land for rice. Cotton Australia and the Australian Commonwealth Government have provided financial support and practical assistance to get the project up and running.
Last year a number of Japanese rice farmers decided to experiment with a short term transition into cotton, using fields which had been left unsuitable for rice after being inundated with sea water during the tsunami.
That early venture of around 3 hectares of cotton was planted and harvested entirely by hand. This year the project in Tohoku has expanded to 30ha and the Japanese farmers have asked for assistance with a picker to mechanise their harvest.
This project has been designed to grow a more salt tolerant crop as they rejuvenate these fields and look towards a return to rice.
In Narromine yesterday to speak with the Cotton Australia Board, Minister for Agriculture Joe Ludwig confirmed a grant of $40,000 towards the costs of selecting a picker in Australia, preparing and shipping the machine to Japan.
Qld Govt should stop and talk over Nathan Dam
Cotton Australia says the new Queensland Government should take a deep breath and step back from rushing through the entire Nathan Dam approval process.
In a submission on the Environmental Impact Statement for the Nathan Dam and Pipelines Project, Cotton Australia has called on the Government to put the process on hold until all entitlement holders have been properly informed and consulted.
Cotton Australia’s Queensland Policy Manager Michael Murray says frankly he is appalled by the limited amount of information made available on this project combined with a very scant dusting of detail at the information sessions.
“SunWater simply can’t go through the motions, ticking all the boxes by having ‘information sessions’ when the reality is information was the rarest commodity on offer during SunWater’s public consultation.”
“There has been an extreme lack of engagement between SunWater and the existing irrigators who currently rely on water from the Dawson River, who have simply not been provided with enough information to objectively assess the merits or otherwise of this project.”
Mr Murray says there remains plenty that is completely unknown about the Nathan Dam project, including the dam’s hydrological impact on the reliability of existing supplemented entitlement holders. Average numbers have been produced, but are of little value to individual irrigators.
Cotton Australia has written to SunWater seeking urgent consultation with Dawson Valley irrigators on these issues, but is yet to receive a response.
Deadline approaches for NDRRA Flood and Cyclone grants
Those growers affected by the extreme weather events last year still have time to access grants and concessional loans offered under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) but only until June 30 2012.
So far about 14,900 primary producers and small businesses have taken advantage of these assistance schemes to help repair damage and rebuild businesses. The average amount of each grant has been around $13,200, from a maximum available of $25,000.
The message is clear: it is better to get the work done sooner rather than later if you wish to claim the full $25,000 grant.
The QFF has made available a very useful video explaining the NDRRA process and it can be viewed at http://www.qff.org.au/policy-projects/our-work/cyclone-resilience/.
Carbon Tax around the corner
As the carbon tax prepares to become part of Australia’s tax regime, Cotton Australia has been looking at how this new impost will affect cotton growers.
The carbon price will commence from 1 July this year. This will initially be a fixed price of $23/t, to continue for 3 years rising by 2.5% per year, before transitioning to a market-based emissions trading scheme, similar to the CPRS.
Although agriculture is excluded from a direct tax, as well as fuel used for farm equipment and personal vehicles, agricultural businesses will be affected through cost increases on energy inputs such as fuel, fertilise and electricity.
Cotton Australia has lobbied Government at critical points during the development of the policy and following its announcement, to push for fair treatment, stressing the cost of a tax on industry and highlighting the progress already made by industry and growers through R&D to lower our carbon footprint.
Cotton Australia Policy Officer Angela Bradburn says the way a carbon price will flow through the economy is complex, so it may take a full financial year to be clear on where and how the tax will hit.
Rural communities continue to be highly concerned and also question the effectiveness of a carbon tax. It will compound existing cost/price squeeze faced by farmers, and is being introduced at a time when electricity prices are also set to rise.
Cotton Australia commissioned modelling work by the Australian Farm Institute, which indicates a model 400 ha irrigated cotton farm is expected to incur total annual cost increases of 0.6%, amounting to $9,243 in additional annual costs, resulting in a reduction in farm net income of 2.1% in the first year following commencement of a $23/t price. This includes both additional on-farm and post-farm gate (ginning and transport to port) costs.
In an attempt to offset impacts, the government is delivering compensation and support to households and industry through tax cuts, family tax benefits and pension increases.
For agriculture, the government has allocated $1.7 billion of carbon revenue for RD&E, to complement the CFI as a potential new revenue stream. Cotton Australia has been working with other organisations in the industry to look at opportunities that could benefit growers.
Cotton Australia will continue to engage with government to ensure effective design and implementation of these programs so they directly benefit the industry.
At this stage, the CFI and R&D investments won’t provide sufficient offsets in the immediate term. Investment and innovation has only recently commenced. Future potential methodologies in the CFI pipeline include reduced rates of nitrogen fertiliser and use of inhibitors, and soil carbon.
The Opposition have said that they will undo the carbon tax. They do however support the CFI concept and direct action funding programs. Under this scenario, the potential economic returns from involvement in the CFI/carbon markets would be lower.
July will also see electricity price hikes due to network, energy and retail cost increases, as well as the carbon tax. The Queensland Competition Authority recently released its final determination on Queensland electricity prices and tariffs for the coming financial. In QLD, for most farmers (and others on various tariffs) price rises will be either 10% or 20% depending on the tariff. NSW residents will also be facing similar increases on power bills up to 20%
For further information: Cotton Australia has two documents to help cotton growers understand the carbon tax and the CFI http://www.cottonaustralia.com.au/cotton-library/publications/background-briefings
A new way to fuel your tractor
A new industry project looking at alternative powers sources for tractors and irrigation motors may one day see cotton seed oil fueling those engines.
Funded by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation, the project is looking at the feasibility of all known and alternative energy sources for cotton production.
The initial results are showing promise, demonstrating that substituting cotton seed oil for diesel proves that the home-grown product is not only cheaper and renewable but comparable to diesel in terms of performance.
The project team are now looking to growers as they gauge cotton grower interest in alternative energy sources, and are very interested in the views of growers who want to help position the industry for future energy cost pressures.
To give your valuable opinion to the team, visit online http://alternativeenergysurvey.nceaprd.usq.edu.au/ or co,ntact Gary Sandell at the NCEA on (07) 4631 5396 or firstname.lastname@example.org
2012 CSD Information Tour
Cotton Seed Distributors are once again embarking on their comprehensive information tour which will be run over a 2 week period in mid June from Dalby to Griffith.
The schedule allows for early morning and late afternoon meetings each day, followed by lunch and dinner respectively.
Growers, potential growers, their agronomists, and industry personnel are all welcome to come along and meet with our extension and development team as well as key members in the cotton industry.
Dates and Venues
Date Town Time Venue
Friday, June 15 Dirranbandi 10.00am Dirranbandi Motel
Monday, June 18 Moree 5.00pm Moree Services Club
Tuesday, June 19 Gunnedah 10.00am Gunnedah Services Club
Tuesday, June 19 Wee Waa 5.00pm Wee Waa Bowling Club
Wednesday, June 20 Narromine 10.00am Narromine Aero Club
Wednesday, June 20 Condobolin 5.00pm Condobolin Ex Services Club
Thursday, June 21 Hillston 11.00am Hillston RSL Services Club
Thursday, June 21 Griffith 5.00pm The Kidman Wayside Inn
Friday, June 22 Coleambally 10.00am Coleambally Bowling Club
Monday, June 25 Bourke 5.00pm Major Mitchell Motor Inn
Tuesday, June 26 Warren 5.00pm Warren Bowling Club
Wednesday, June 27 Deniliquin 5.00pm Deniliquin RSL Club
For more information contact CSD on (02) 6795 0000 or your local Extension & Development Agronomist:
John Marshall – Darling Downs – 0428 950 010
Alex North – Border Rivers – 0428 950 021
Bob Ford – Southern NSW – 0428 950 015
James Quinn – Gwydir Region – 0428 950 028
Rob Eveleigh – Namoi Region – 0427 915 921
Dates for the diary:
If you are holding a field day or an event you would like to include in Cotton Matters, please contact David Bone at Cotton Australia on (02) 9669 5222 or email email@example.com
Wednesday 20 June Machinery & Soil Health Field Day 'Marinya', Biniguy
Check out what's new in machinery for broadacre and cotton.
For more information call Sally Dickinson Regional Landcare Facilitator, Moree 0427 521498
Friday 20 July, Central Highlands Cotton Growers & Irrigators Annual Awards & Dinner Dance, Emerald - Contact Luana Drummond 0488 119 419 or firstname.lastname@example.org
14- 16 August 2012 Australian Cotton Conference on the Gold Coast