Cotton Matters - 27 June 2018

Tuesday, 26th June 2018 // Cotton Matters, Featured // Comments (0)

Water compliance update: Qld and NSW

The Queensland Government recently released the findings of its Independent Audit of Queensland Non-Urban Water Measurement and Compliance, and its subsequent recommendations.

The Audit’s recommendations included strengthening water use compliance accompanied by independent auditing measures, introducing standard metering policy for water extractions, bolstering compliance resourcing, improving transparency and conducting a review of existing legislation and regulations.

Cotton Australia welcomed the findings and said it looked forward to working with the Queensland Government to improve the effectiveness of the state's water compliance system, in order to rebuild trust in water use management.

With government costings not yet released, Cotton Australia said it wanted to work with legislators and regulators to ensure the refreshed compliance system was effective and cost-effective.

Meantime, the New South Wales Parliament has passed strict new laws targeting water theft.

The Water Management Amendment Bill 2018 was passed last week, and came after the release of the Matthews Inquiry’s final report late last year and the formation of the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR).

Under the new laws, corporations illegally taking water in NSW will face penalties up to $5m, while individuals could be hit with fines up to $500,000.

The legislative reforms also include:

  • New offences around metering and providing false or misleading information
  • A public information register detailing a licence holder’s details and compliance activity
  • New powers for the Minister to embargo water take when managing environmental water
  • Fresh tools for the NRAR, such as enforceable undertakings and mandatory audits, as well as a requirement for all licensed users to be metered.

Read Cotton Australia’s full response to the Queensland metre audit

Read more about the NSW law changes

Future Cotton Leaders generating exciting ideas after first meeting

The 2018 Australian Future Cotton Leaders met for the first time last week in Moree.

The 16 participants learned about leadership development techniques, project planning and different personality styles.

The group also received presentations from Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay, and CRDC Executive Director Bruce Finney, and visited sites including Auscott Moree, the Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association and Stahmann Farms’ pecan nut plantation.

The participants have started developing their projects, some of which focus on young farmer engagement in CGAs, employment and staff management strategies, and leadership benchmarking.

The Future Cotton Leaders will now continue working on their projects before meeting again at the Australian Cotton Conference in August.

Read more about the Future Cotton Leaders

Conference scholarships to boost education of cotton industry

Cotton Australia is working to ensure the cotton industry’s next generation has a solid understanding of the sector through programs to help them attend the 2018 Australian Cotton Conference.

The conference will be on the Gold Coast from August 7 – 9 and is a valuable opportunity for students and teachers to meet key industry personnel and boost knowledge around cotton.

Cotton Australia is keen to ensure students and educators have access to the event so they can learn more about the industry and build strong pathways for a future in cotton.

The organisation has launched a scholarship program for undergraduate students and educators, and a second program offering discounted ticket prices for schools is also available.

Read more about the programs

Book now to attend Australian Cotton Industry Awards

Have you secured your ticket to the Australian Cotton Industry Awards?

The awards are on Thursday, August 9, 2018 at the Gold Coast Exhibition and Convention Centre. The event coincides with the 2018 Australian Cotton Conference.

Come dressed in your finery, or embrace the ‘Circus carnivale’ theme. Early bird tickets are now available.

Nominations for the Roll of Honour are open until July 13th via the Cotton Awards website. You're encouraged to nominate people who have retired or passed away within the last few years.

Book your ticket now

NSW Budget delivers on agriculture projects, but more work to be done

The NSW Government handed down its 2018-19 Budget last week.

The Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, announced a budget surplus of $3.9b for 2017-18 and outlined measures to reduce the cost of living, as well as investment in education and essential services and amendments to payroll taxes.

From agriculture’s perspective, the Budget is helpful for rural communities, but the sector recognises continued investment is needed from all levels of government.

The highlights for regional NSW areas include:

  • $23.2m over two years to deliver the state’s Water Reform Action Plan. 
  • $4.5m over three years to develop and implement new Remote Sensing technologies to strengthen NSW water compliance.
  • $119m for road freight safety and productivity in regional areas.
  • $87m on freight rail infrastructure upgrades, including regional freight services. 
  • $62m for the Newell Highway including fast-tracking for the new Dubbo Bridge.
  • $250m in loans for drought-affected farmers through the Farm Innovation Fund.
  • $24.4m reserved for Doppler weather radars in central and western NSW.
  • $7m to assist councils in preparing plans of management for Crown lands. 

NEUW Denim Sneak Aussie Cotton Preview

21st Century Denim brand NEUW Denim will soon launch its range of Australian cotton jeans, becoming the first youth fashion label to show support for our farmers.

Its plan is to convert more and more styles to Australian cotton across the three different brands owned by the Threebyone company, a global branded denim business.  The first styles will be available in August as part of the Spring 2018 ranges.

Cotton Australia's Manager of Supply Chain Relationships, Brooke Summers was in Melbourne recently to meet with founder & Creative Director Par Lundqvist, Denim Manager Caz Leadbeater along with Neuw Denim’s sales & marketing teams to discuss supply chain strategies, messaging and staff training.

Par will personally road test the Australian cotton jeans over the coming months ahead of the major launch in October, showcasing it whilst traveling to multiple major global Men’s fashion tradeshows in Europe. 

Final product will be available throughout David Jones, General Pants, NEUW retail outlets and online.

Learn more about the NEUW brand

AgSkilled: courses for WHS Supervisors and Managers

Growers in Narrabri and Gunnedah who manage and supervise Work Health and Safety are encouraged to attend an upcoming training workshop.

Through the AgSkilled program, which Cotton Australia supports, Tocal College is running training days to help attendees implement and monitor WHS policies, procedures and programs in order to meet their legislative requirements.

The interactive workshops are on in Narrabri on August 2nd, and Gunnedah on August 3rd.

Participants need to register by July 12th, 2018.

To register, email Jayne Wood or email Richard Carter

Regional Telecommunications Review: have your say

Cotton Australia has welcomed progress in the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review.

The Federal Minister for Regional Communications, Senator Bridget McKenzie, recently announced the commencement of the 2018 review, which is a legislated assessment process that occurs every three years. 

This is an important issue for agriculture, particularly as the current Universal Service Guarantee is being reformed and the NBN nears rollout completion. 

Engagement in the Review is important as it has the potential to set a new paradigm for telecommunications in Australia’s rural, regional and remote areas.  

An Issues Paper, as well as dates and locations for regional face-to-face meetings have now been set.  

Cotton Australia encourages growers, community members and businesses in cotton areas to have their say by attending a regional meeting, should there be one in their area, using the Review’s online consultation form, or contacting us directly so we can represent your views in our submission.

Read details of the review here

Retail giant IKEA’s business model transition good news for Aussie cotton growers

Cotton Australia’s Marketing and Communications Specialist, Sarah Clarry, represented the organisation at the recent launch of IKEA’s 2018 People and Planet Positive Report, which announced the global furniture and textiles giant’s transition to a circular business model.

According to IKEA, “The circular economy is a new way of looking at the relationship between consumers, products and the companies that create them. Instead of a linear ‘take-make-dispose’ model where vast amounts of man-made and natural resources end up in landfill, the circular economy provides a new challenge: how can products be adapted for longevity?”

Part of the ethos requires a commitment to high-quality renewable and biodegradable materials. IKEA’s report includes a commitment to sourcing sustainable cotton.

The assurance is good news for Australian cotton producers, who are already producing among the most sustainable cotton in the world.

82% of IKEA’s sustainable cotton is sourced from the Better Cotton Initiative and other sustainability programs. With myBMP cotton able to be sold into BCI markets, Australian cotton growers are already supplying cotton into IKEA’s supply chain.

In 2017, IKEA used 145,000 metric tonnes of cotton, representing around 1% of the world’s total supply, and it predicts it will be using substantially more by 2030.

IKEA currently uses cotton in more than 3500 products across its range, including cushions, bedsheets, sofas and towels.

Cotton Australia will continue to engage with brands such as IKEA through the organisation’s Cotton to Market program, to tell our sustainability story and ensure the Australian fibre is top of mind for major brands and retailers looking to source sustainable cotton.

Read more about IKEA’s plans

Queensland Budget misses the mark, says Queensland Farmers’ Federation

Queensland Farmers’ Federation, which Cotton Australia is a member of, says the Queensland State Budget does not stack up for agriculture.

QFF argues the 2018-19 Budget is underwhelming, lacklustre and lacks vision. The organisation says the Budget overlooks the integral role agriculture plays in the state’s economy.

QFF CEO Travis Tobin says the government needs to make agriculture a higher priority and develop stronger strategic intent for the sector.

Read QFF’s full budget response

Young Farming Champion spreading the word about cotton

Education around the cotton industry continues to grow, with cotton’s Young Farming Champion (YFC) visiting Sydney schools to share her knowledge.

YFC is a program run by Art4Agriculture and supported by Cotton Australia.

Cotton’s YFC, Emma Ayliffe, recently visited three schools in Sydney to share information about the industry with city-based students.

It’s hoped the visit, along with the ongoing Archibull Prize program, continues to boost community knowledge of Australian cotton’s commitment to a sustainable, efficient and responsible industry.

Learn more about the Young Farming Champions program

Prominent cotton scientist recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Acclaimed cotton researcher Dr Robert Mensah has been recognised in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The Narrabri-based scientist received the Public Service Medal and was reportedly the only person from NSW’s farm sector to be recognised in the recent round of commendations.

Dr Mensah joined the Australian Cotton Research Institute in 1992, and his work has largely been focussed on pest management and pesticides.

The commendation once again highlights the high level of expertise in Australian cotton and the industry’s commitment to developing ground-breaking research and innovation.

Read more about Robert Mensah’s work

Four year-old Rockhampton boy growing cotton in his backyard

How old were you when you dreamed of a life in cotton?

Four-year-old Rockhampton boy Hugo Fenech-Rodgers has turned his young hands to growing cotton in backyard tubs.

Hugo’s uncle is Central Highlands grower Ross Burnett, who, as Queensland Country Life reported, gave his nephew a helping hand in getting his crop underway.

Read more about young Hugo’s journey into cotton