Cotton Matters, 3 April, 3013

Tuesday, 2nd April 2013 // Cotton Matters // Comments (0)

Cotton industry to fight electricity price hike
Cotton Australia is fighting a proposed 17.5% electricity price hike in Queensland, and is readying itself for a review of energy pricing by the NSW regulatory authority mid-year.
Cotton Australia’s Policy Manager for Queensland & Water, Michael Murray, says the Queensland Competition Authority’s (QCA) draft determination on electricity prices for 2013-14 proposes an increase of 17.5% for popular farm and irrigation tariffs.
The push follows a 10% rise in electricity prices for farmers in 2012-13.
Mr Murray says: “For many reasons, the Queensland Competition Authority’s proposal just doesn’t stack up.”
“Cotton Australia has called on the Queensland Government to put a stop to these rapidly increasing electricity tariffs that will impact cotton growers, many of whom are struggling in the wake of severe flood damage.”
Cotton Australia is mobilising the industry to help support this push – we urge cotton growers throughout the state to contact their local members, the Minister and Premier and demand action to put an end to these price hikes.
Sadly, the threat of rising energy costs is not restricted to the northern state. The next determination by the Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) in NSW is due in June, which may negatively impact growers in that state.
“Rest assured – if the QCA is successful in Queensland, it only stacks the odds against growers in NSW,” Mr Murray says.
For more information:
Cotton Australia is fighting a proposed 17.5% electricity price hike in Queensland, and is readying itself for a review of energy pricing by the NSW regulatory authority mid-year.
Cotton Australia’s Policy Manager for Queensland & Water, Michael Murray, says the Queensland Competition Authority’s (QCA) draft determination on electricity prices for 2013-14 proposes an increase of 17.5% for popular farm and irrigation tariffs.
The push follows a 10% rise in electricity prices for farmers in 2012-13.
Mr Murray says: “For many reasons, the Queensland Competition Authority’s proposal just doesn’t stack up.”
“Cotton Australia has called on the Queensland Government to put a stop to these rapidly increasing electricity tariffs that will impact cotton growers, many of whom are struggling in the wake of severe flood damage.”
Cotton Australia is mobilising the industry to help support this push – we urge cotton growers throughout the state to contact their local members, the Minister and Premier and demand action to put an end to these price hikes.
Sadly, the threat of rising energy costs is not restricted to the northern state. The next determination by the Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) in NSW is due in June, which may negatively impact growers in that state.
“Rest assured – if the QCA is successful in Queensland, it only stacks the odds against growers in NSW,” Mr Murray says.
For more information:

 

 

NFF sets the record straight on R&D
The peak body representing agriculture in Australia, the National Farmers Federation (NFF), has labelled claims by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) that investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) is a ‘waste of money’ as laughable.

Jock Laurie – president of the NFF (of which Cotton Australia is a member) - says the comments show the IPA is clearly out of touch with the realities of Australian agriculture.
“The IPA has called for all federal agricultural R&D to be abolished, saying that it hasn’t seen any credible figures that prove the research has led to productivity gains,” Mr Laurie says.

“For a body that claims to be a think-tank, the IPA is obviously not doing much thinking, let alone research, given there’s a whole host of sources that have analysed the returns of investment from agricultural R&D, and demonstrated the link between agricultural R&D and productivity, including ABARES and the Office of the Chief Scientist.”

“The reality is the benefits from agricultural research and development to the Australian community are enormous. Analysis by the Rural Research and Development Corporations indicates that the return on investment is $11 for every dollar spent.”

“And, as ABARES has demonstrated, public R&D directly accounted for nearly a third of the productivity growth experienced in Australia’s broadacre farming sector between 1952-53 and 2006-07. Without these gains, the simple fact is farming would not be the innovative, progressive sector it is today and Australia would not be reaping the benefits from our food and fibre sectors.”

“The comments by the IPA are simply ludicrous. A spokesperson for the body is also quoted as saying that ‘if a group of farmers have a good idea (for research) they should pursue it (themselves)’. As the Government made clear in its Rural R&D Policy Statement in 2012, the Australian rural sector largely comprises small, family business, and the incentive and capacity for these businesses to invest in R&D is low.”

“The spokesperson also said, ‘if there is going to be a major breakthrough in wheat or cotton, international companies like Monsanto will be making them, not Australian R&D.’ Professor Tony Peacock of the CRC Association disagrees: ‘A robust study showed that the Cotton CRC delivered about a billion dollars of benefit to Australia. It's a plain dumb statement to say we ‘should leave it to Monsanto’. The billion in benefits came from better use of water, better control of pests and diseases and faster utilisation of technology to keep the industry competitive.’ “

“We suggest the IPA does its research a little better in future. As the Prime Minister said in a speech delivered to the NFF Congress last year, ‘Australia’s producers know the value of investment in rural research and development’ – but apparently the IPA doesn’t.”

“As the Prime Minister also said, agriculture has been the sector with the largest productivity growth since 2007-08, and as the Opposition Leader said, it was only because of growth in the agricultural sector that we avoided going into recession as part of the global financial crisis.”

“Based on the evidence, we know that for this growth to continue, public and private agricultural R&D investment must also grow – and we reiterate our call for an increase in total Government expenditure on agricultural RD&E by one percent by 2015.”

 

 

Safety induction: a guide
As the cotton picking season begins, health and safety expert John Temperley outlines the importance of safety inductions, responsibilities and how to conduct them.
Safety induction – an introduction
An induction assists an owner or employer (a person conducting a business or undertaking - PCBU), to meet their duty of providing a safe workplace. Safety induction and training is done in conjunction with identifying hazards such as guarding exposed machinery, to eliminate or control the risk of injury.
What is the purpose of a safety induction?
Safety Induction is the first step that you will take with your workers (including contractors) to be sure they have the information and skills that they need to work safely. This includes following safety instructions given to them to help them look after their own safety and the safety of others while at work on your farm.
A General Safety Induction is conducted when each worker or contractor first comes to work on the farm. This is a broad introduction to how you manage safety on your farm. It is also the time to make sure that people are aware of the key hazards and risks that may be present – for example, narrow irrigation crossings that need to be taken when driving around the farm; routes that trucks should take when carting modules, overhead power lines that pickers and module builders may pose a risk of contact and electrocution.
Before new work is carried out, training and instruction should be part of showing the worker how to do the job safely. For example, operating plant and machinery, cultivating, operating module builders, driving boll buggies and pickers.
Even if your new worker has been doing the same jobs on other farms, do not assume they have the information and skills to do the job safely on your farm, or with your equipment. Additionally, where you may have the same team of individuals contracted in on an annual basis, it is important to repeat the safety induction for your farm each year, so as to reinforce your safety requirements and systems.
Safety induction is NOT effective if you just give a worker something to read and sign. It is not just about laying down the law. You must be as sure as you can be that the worker understands what you mean and is ready to play his or her safety role.
Why must we do safety induction?
Generally we cannot assume that any worker starting work on the farm is aware of his or her responsibilities in health and safety.
Further, workers generally will not be aware of your responsibilities as an employer or manager, ensuring the safety of the workplace, and the need for their cooperation to ensure that you can fulfil your responsibility.
Do not assume that a new worker has the skills needed to carry out all farm jobs safely.
The farmer/ farm manager is required to:

  • Inform the worker of his/ her responsibilities and those of the employer.
  • Inform the worker of the specific hazards of work on the farm and of relevant rules and expected safe practice.
  • Assess the skills of the farm worker to ensure that jobs are undertaken in such a way that the safety of the worker is protected.
  • Train the worker so that the necessary safety skills are developed.

When to conduct a safety induction
The best time to properly communicate your role and your expectations of workers and contractors in relation to health and safety is when they first begin working.
Once a worker has started, if you notice that your worker is not taking the safety action that you expect, it is MUCH more difficult to have a discussion about safety in a positive and constructive way if there has been no induction.
If you have not agreed upon the rules at the beginning, safety will become a PROBLEM and will not be seen as one of your business’s CORE VALUES. Your workers need to see that safety is part of the job when working on your farm.
If you do it at the outset, it then becomes a straightforward matter to take up safety issues with the worker at any time and for the worker to communicate with you about his or her safety concerns.
How to conduct a safety induction
Set aside some time to do the induction. It may be done individually or with a new group of workers before picking.
Be mindful of literacy and make sure that the workers understand what is required. This is especially true for young workers and those from overseas who may not have English as their first language or have never worked on a farm, such as backpackers. Remember - slang and jargon can confuse safety instructions, so be careful to ensure the messages you are sending are understood. You will have to explain their work requirements and safety directions - such as staying hydrated, and what to do in an emergency - in more detail.

More information:

Still have questions?
For further help, please contact John Temperley at the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety:

 

 

Advocacy in action: Cotton Australia meets NSW Government leadership
In the week before Easter, Cotton Australia and the NSW Irrigators Council had a positive meeting with the NSW Government leadership, including the Premier, regarding issues including the Strategic Regional Land Use Policy.
 

 

Analysis of global cotton market pricing & demand
The latest edition of NAB’s Rural Commodities Wrap report features a focus on cotton, analysing the place of Australia’s cotton industry in the world market and forecasting global demand, production and pricing.
Click here to download the report.

 

 

Educating teachers about cotton: Teach The Teacher in Emerald
A ‘Teach The Teacher’ cotton farm tour and forums were recently held in Emerald. These events give educators a valuable insight into the cotton farming and production process, introduce the people behind the product, and help promote the industry to students and the community.
The Emerald event was held by the Central Highland Cotton Growers and Irrigators Association in conjunction with Cotton Australia, who was represented by Central Highlands Regional Manager (Emerald) Renee Anderson and Education Coordinator Sophie Davidson.
Primary, high school and TAFE teachers were given a tour around Dougall Millar’s property, where they heard about growing cotton, water and soil management practices, and cotton ginning, processing and marketing.
Other presenters included local grower Chris McCullagh, agronomist Jamie Iker, DAFF development extension expert Lance Pendergast and Queensland Cotton’s Rick Jones.
Highlight - ABC Radio interviewed Cotton Australia’s Renee Anderson about Teach The Teacher. In the report, Renee was able to explain the value of these events as a means to bust myths about Australia’s cotton industry. Click here to read the report and listen to Renee’s interview.
Are you an educator who wants to organise your own cotton “Teach The Teacher” experience? Contact us at  talktous@cotton.org.au

 

 

Domestic social policy the key to Chinese cotton stockpiling: expert
A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) expert says a desire for internal social stability, and self-sufficiency for its agricultural economy, is behind the Chinese Government’s drive to stockpile cotton.
Fred Gale, a senior economist with the USDA’s Economic Research Service, says China fixes cotton prices to growers based on a production-cost-plus-profit basis, and isn’t concerned about competing on price internationally – policy is, instead, driven by domestic goals.
Click here to read the full story on the Delta Farm Press website.

 

 

Cotton Australia pursues industry capacity strategies
Cotton Australia has been progressing important work on identifying - and tackling - issues of workforce capacity for the cotton industry.
Cotton Australia Policy Officer Angela Bradburn recently attended a cross-industry forum convened by the University of Melbourne’s Dr Ruth Nettle (currently leading a cotton workforce R&D project).
The workshop identified opportunities for different agriculture sectors to collaborate to address workforce capacity issues and learn from successes in other industries. It also allowed Cotton Australia to showcase best practice examples from our own sector,  identified potential funding sources for further work on capacity in the future and harmonised messaging to government about capacity issues.
Cotton Australia was also represented at a recent cotton-specific workplace forum convened by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) held in Moree.
The forum was held to share progress on current industry education and workforce activities plus research findings from key industry projects, and to discuss new ideas and strategies.
The group also began developing the framework for an industry strategy for workforce development. Progress included:

  • mapping current activities
  • new ideas for short, medium & long-term strategies for managing the cotton workforce
  • identifying opportunities for collective action.

Cotton Australia participants included Barb Grey (Director and member of the organisation’s Human Capacity Panel), Angela Bradburn (Policy Officer), Sophie Davidson (Education Coordinator) and Rebecca Fing (Regional Manager, Macintyre Valley), who detailed a new project with Tocal College to pilot flexible cotton traineeships for new and existing workers in three growing regions. The project will provide short course training and a mechanism to recognise existing skills.
Both the cross-industry workshop and workplace forum have helped Cotton Australia advance its capacity-building initiatives that help growers source and manage labour.

 

 

Sustaining Rural Communities Conference: June 2013
The fourth annual Sustaining Rural Communities Conference will be held over June 5 and 6 at Narrabri’s Crossing Theatre.
This year’s conference will examine the theme of ‘what makes a community resilient’ and will feature expert speakers and workshops.
The event is a joint venture between the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) and the Namoi Catchment Management Authority.
To register your interest and receive updates on speakers, the session program and other event details, go to www.sustainingruralcommunities.org.au