What a year 2020 has been!
It began with bushfires which impacted the Adelaide Hills, Keilira and Kangaroo Island. Combined, the fires resulted in the loss of three lives, 46,700 livestock and 100 homes and burnt through 260,000 hectares of land.
The South Australian community banded together and showed tremendous generosity during this difficult time. Livestock SA organised two fodder donation depots to support affected producers and community members, with more than 1200 tonnes of hay donated at Oakbank Racecourse and 2700 tonnes donated at Cape Jervis. A further 600 tonnes was delivered directly to properties along the Keilira fire scar.
The Sheep and Cattle Industry Fund boards were established in 2020 following the transition to industry administration late last year, having previously operated under the administration of the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA).
Since the boards have been established, a total of 22 projects have been approved for funding. Further funding has also recently closed for small projects which will benefit either the SA sheep or cattle industries.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the Livestock SA office to shut down for much of the year, however the staff and board continued to service and represent SA livestock producers.
With interstate and international travel banned, access to seasonal workers and shearers was reduced, severely impacting the agricultural industry.
Livestock SA worked closely with the Shearing Contractors Association of Australia to bring in New Zealand shearers to help with the shearer shortage and worked to ensure shearing remained recognised as an essential agricultural service that could operate during lockdown.
Cross border movement also caused many issues for producers during COVID-19 restrictions. The Livestock SA office strongly supported many applications for repeated cross-border travel during the season. The assistance from PIRSA and understanding from SA Police made this process possible and mostly seamless.
Livestock SA also supported the plea to develop an agricultural workers movement code to support livestock and agricultural cross-border movement.
Progress on the SA Dog Fence rebuild continues, with the first 11-kilometre section of work on Curnamona Station complete and the second 115km now in progress.
Livestock SA welcomed the news that, from July 1, water costs were reduced for livestock producers reliant on water delivered through SA Water’s infrastructure, saving them $1350 per year. This reduction meant water costs would no longer be a reason to force livestock producers to reduce livestock numbers.
Livestock SA also welcomed the announcement regarding university fee reform which has cut the cost of agriculture-related degrees by 62 per cent. This will provide more opportunity for industry development and support.
A mid-term review was completed for the SA Sheep Industry Blueprint which showed it had successfully fostered greater coordination and collaboration, while attracting investments for research, development and extension.
The SA Sheep Industry Blueprint Working Group is now working with producers and industry stakeholders to understand the SA sheep industry’s key areas for growth to develop the new Blueprint for 2020-2030.
Livestock SA continued to be the voice for SA livestock producers this year by providing comments on many important industry initiatives including the development of the Draft Pastoral Lands Bill and the Biosecurity Act.
Livestock SA undertook extensive consultation in collaboration with the Pastoral Board regarding the Pastoral Lands Bill and we thank members for their input and feedback at meetings. We look forward to working with the Minister in the further development of the bill on behalf of all pastoralists.
The lead-up to the Christmas and New Year break is a great time to review insurance cover on your property and assets to ensure you are covered for any natural disasters and incidents. This will provide peace of mind and ensure a relaxed and happy Christmas with family.
Finally, I would like to wish all members the very best as you celebrate Christmas and the start of 2021. We recognise it has been a tough year for many due to both the bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic associated restrictions and we would like to thank members for their ongoing support.
This time of year can be tough for those struggling with the season and I encourage all members to look out for themselves, their families and others.
On behalf of myself, the Livestock SA Board, Andrew and the office team, we wish all members a very happy Christmas and New Year!
JOE KEYNES, President, Livestock SA
Read the December/January newsletter online.