Livestock SA regularly makes submissions and offers comments to governments and other organisations on issues impacting members.
The Australian Government has released a discussion paper on Modernising Australia’s Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) as part of the growth agenda for agriculture. Livestock SA is interested in two RDCs – Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), indirectly also Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) and Australian Livestock Export Corporation (LiveCorp). The submission discusses the RDC structures, inclusion of AWI with red meat industry bodies, engaging with levy-payers, cross commodity issues, collaboration and attracting new participants, uptake of agricultural R&D, marketing, social licence and advocacy.
Security of water supplies for livestock at reasonable prices is a major concern to Livestock SA. The increasing cost of water has become an effective restraint on investment in livestock production systems in South Australia. The State Government’s Water Pricing Inquiry has found that there needs to be a reassessment of SA Water’s regulated asset base, with Livestock SA requesting consideration be given to how SA Water can best assist livestock producers. Livestock SA would like to see a reduction in the cost of water for livestock with a differentiation in water prices for water used from SA Water for livestock consumption. A program needs to be established that could deliver grants and research surrounding water efficiencies, links between farmers and relevant business information, desalination and storage technology and a possible rebate on water used by livestock.
Livestock SA is pleased to note that the new Planning and Design Code has been drafted with the intent to support primary industries. It will be necessary to ensure the changes are compatible with two new pieces of legislation being developed by the State Government – the new Biosecurity and Pastoral Acts. Livestock SA’s submission discusses the minimum land size for farming, conflicts between primary production industries and flexibility surrounding changes in farming practice.
Livestock SA welcomes the expansion of the use of property identifiers to include crops as well as livestock. This will assist in enhancing Australia’s traceability arrangements across all sectors of agriculture, and help with managing pest and disease outbreaks, emergencies, food safety, trade and market access requirements. These reforms will also allow industry to address increasing consumer interest in product sustainability, ethics and providence.
At Livestock SA’s recent Annual General Meeting, concerns were expressed about the possibility of further using flows from the South East to assist towards trying to maintain the long-term ecological health and resilience of the Coorong. There are fears from landowners and others in the South East that there may be further widening of drains to achieve this, with depletion of water for livestock and other uses. It is important that if this option is developed the South East community is consulted and kept fully informed throughout the process.
As South Australia’s pastoral region and many parts of the rest of the State are in drought, Livestock SA welcomes the proposed changes to the Farm Household Allowance. Livestock SA’s submission discusses the increase of the offset amount, as the ability to offset off-farm income against debt servicing is extremely useful and raising it brings the offset more in line with real debt situations. It also discusses extending the scope of the FHA program, which means that the availability of support is more likely to be able to be linked to actual seasonal conditions at any time rather than being a once off event. As farmers come out of a drought, the biggest problem they will face is the availability of capital. By adding in lump sum payments, the impact of the drought situation on farming families can be reduced.
The state government has set an objective to lift the sustainable economic growth rate in South Australia to an average of three percent per year. The food, wine and agribusiness sector is one of nine priority sectors that have been identified for growth. Livestock SA is pleased to be participating in further developing these sectors in line with this growth agenda. As a major initiative, Livestock SA has worked with the entire value chain to develop both a South Australian Sheep Industry Blueprint and a South Australian Cattle Industry Blueprint. To further assist in expanding the State’s sheep industry, the SA dog fence is being rebuilt. There are several other aspects Livestock SA believe the State Government needs to consider to increase growth of the sector. These include allowing the farming of rangeland feral goats on pastoral leases, the expansion of the kangaroo meat industry and commercialising of kangaroo products, improvements in the State’s planning processes, security of water supplies for livestock, agricultural safety from mining interests, good transport networks, better online accessibility and increases in R&D.
Livestock SA welcomes the Federal Parliament’s Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources inquiry into how to expand Australia’s agriculture, with reference to the importance of the South Australian Sheep and Beef Industry Blueprints that Livestock SA has developed. Livestock SA’s submission discusses the State Government funding towards the development of a red meat and wool industry growth program, a grant towards the development of the South Australian Beef Cattle Industry Blueprint and the rebuild of the SA Dog Fence. It also references the areas of interest Livestock SA will discuss in the South Australian inquiry including farming of rangeland feral goats, expansion of the kangaroo meat industry, security of water supplies for livestock, and land management strategies.
The draft report from the Productivity Commission on Remote Area Tax Concessions and Payments, which proposes to abolish the zone tax offset, was an area of importance for Livestock SA this month. The zone tax offset is designed to compensate residents for uncongenial climate conditions, isolation and the higher cost of living. Livestock SA’s submission to the commissioner discusses adjusting the boundaries and increasing the payment rates, rather than abolishing the zone tax offset altogether, with hopes of retaining workers and their services in remote areas. The Productivity Commission’s recommendation of tightening of fringe benefits tax remote area concessions is also discussed.
Livestock SA acknowledges the steps being taken by government regarding the issue of farm trespass and the proposed amendments to the Summary Offences Act. Livestock SA’s submission mentions the impact of the Aussie Farms animal activist website, which advocated for trespass onto farming land, and the concern Livestock SA has for the rights of landholders regarding their protection under the current trespass laws in South Australia. Livestock SA also referred to the South Australian Dairyfarmers’ Association (SADA) and its notion of banning notices issued by farmers against trespassers, restricting them for a period up to two years in duration.
Since the announcement of the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation Act 1989 review Livestock SA has had the opportunity to canvas many of our affected members and there are a number of matters which this submission seeks to touch on including tenure, impact of legislation, the nature of stock, lease review systems, Aboriginal issues and the structure and nature of the Pastoral Board itself. Invariably legislation, policy, regulation and execution of policy intersect. This submission has endeavoured to restrain itself to the matters of the legislation, however, from time to time where it is impossible to separate legislation from policy and execution, Livestock SA has made comment. These areas relate to issues like movement on public access routes, funding of the Pastoral Lands Unit and compliance, or lack of it, of the existing act by the South Australian Government.
Livestock SA is very pleased that the State Government proposes to lift the moratorium on growing GM food crops in all parts of mainland South Australia, it is disappointing that it is also proposed that the moratorium will remain on Kangaroo Island. While we acknowledge the strong sentiments of some Kangaroo Island producers, we are aware that once the moratorium is removed on the mainland, even canola growers on Kangaroo Island will be watching what happens to any premium for GM-free canola.
Livestock SA welcomes and supports the proposed amendments to the South Australian Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan 2018-2022. The proposal comes after renewed calls from industry to provide additional flexibility in kangaroo management across SA. The proposed changes are a positive step in kangaroo management. Livestock SA has strongly lobbied for the commercial harvesting areas to be increased to ensure harvesting can occur in all areas where kangaroo populations have increased significantly. Since 2011 kangaroo numbers have increased across the State, doubling from an estimated 2.5 million to more than 5 million. This large rise in kangaroo populations has impacted hugely on producers, as well as at an environmental level, with increased numbers placing significant grazing pressure on properties.
Livestock SA is pleased at the commitment to develop a 20-year State Infrastructure Strategy. It is rare for such a long-term period to be considered, but in planning infrastructure a 20- year framework is much more realistic than the usual three or five years. It is noted that in the Discussion Paper that seven infrastructure sectors are identified. Of these, transport, utilities and digital infrastructure are all required for the future of the livestock industries in this State.
Livestock SA congratulates the State Government on its commitment to develop a statewide Regional Development Strategy. Our comments are largely focussed on the three aspects outlined in the Discussion Paper – Service Provision, Investment in Infrastructure, and Regional Enablers and relate to what livestock producers need to ensure that the State has a viable livestock industry.
On behalf of its pastoral members, Livestock SA wishes to raise a couple of issues in relation to the draft Outback Bushfire Management Area Plan, in relation to the terms of reference and Buffel grass. While appreciating that the terms of reference outlining the role and responsibility of the Outback Bushfire Management Committee primarily needs to be related to bushfire management, Livestock SA believes that in addition to considering the environment and land management, that part (f) needs to be expanded with an addition point about also “having due regard to property viability.” Maintaining viable grazing/livestock businesses needs to part of the land and fire management in this part of the State. Livestock SA is also concerned that the Outback Bushfire Management Committee wants buffel grass recognised as a declared weed in Western Australia and Northern Territory.
Livestock SA supports Wool Producer Australia’s submission to AWEX’s Review of the National Wool Declaration. In particular, Livestock SA would like ‘Ceased Mulesing’ to be removed from the NWD form, as this category is no longer relevant. Removing ‘Ceased mulesing’ will make the NWD form more straight-forward and user friendly and it would mean only three categories would be lised on the NWD, Non mulesed, Mulesed with pain relied and Mulesed.
Livestock SA was disappointed in the Inquiry’s fourth report entitled: “A Balanced Bargain.” Despite the title of the Inquiry’s third report: “A Cautious Conclusion”, this report provided an in-depth analysis to strongly demonstrate that unreasonably high-water prices had been set. The fourth report in comparison back-tracks on the Inquiry’s findings. The State Government states that it is aiming for the lowest cost environment possible to do business and reducing the price of water needs to be considered as part of this process.
Livestock SA commends the initiative to review the management of dams and supports many of the proposals set out in the Draft Position Paper. Livestock SA highlights the conundrum and apparent contradiction associated with the proposals for on the one hand, seeking to “reduce red tape” and on the other to potentially “increase the level of regulation over time”. Livestock SA’s membership will view this through the lens of ‘more red tape’ in their already highly regulated environment and will view management of their dams to be their responsibility in their best interest.
The independent Taskforce appointed by RMAC to review the Red Meat MOU has prepared a Green Paper for comment. For the sake of our members, it is essential that there is a well-structured process for the future of the sheep industry in this country. Livestock SA (along with other State Farming Organisations) has been working towards the establishment of one sheep Peak Industry Council with an amalgamation of Sheep Producers Australia and Wool Producers Australia. While we appreciate this was not an option in the Taskforce’s terms of reference, it does need to be considered.
The Livestock SA Board, comprising 10 elected producers from various parts of South Australia, canvassed members and others involved with livestock in SA to get feedback on Landmark’s proposed acquisition of Ruralco and how this may affect individual producers, regions and the whole industry. This engagement has highlighted widespread concerns about the reduction in competition, with some of these concerns specific to livestock production as well as some more general concerns.
Currently the Red Meat Advisory Council has a Green Paper in circulation on the Red Meat Memorandum of Understanding, and the Discussion Paper with its wider perspective, complements this. For the sake of our members, it is essential that there is a well-structured process for the future of the red meat industry in this country. The Discussion Paper clearly sets out the challenges for the red meat industry, and the role government can play in creating the right investment environment.
Livestock SA concurs with the major finding of the Review which indicates that the GM moratorium has cost SA grain growers at least $33 million since 2004 (Finding 4.1). As indicated in this Review, Livestock SA made a submission supporting the removal of the current moratorium. As many broadacre farmers in SA run livestock as well as cropping, the moratorium needs to be lifted as soon as it can be legislated.
The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS) is to be congratulated on developing the 10-year National Investment Plan for Weeds Research, Development and Engagement. With weeds costing industry an estimated $4.3 billion annually, such a plan is long overdue. For most livestock producers, pest animals are in the main of much more concern than weeds, and we would be concerned if the development of the weeds 10-year Plan was at the expense of CISS’s excellent work on pest animals. The emphasis to date on rabbits, wild dogs, foxes, feral pigs and feral deer has been well received by industry and needs to continue.
Livestock SA commented mainly on the parts of the Productive Economy Policy Discussion Paper dealing with agriculture. It is stated that the Discussion Paper “focuses on the role the planning system can play in protecting and growing key industries.” From a Livestock SA perspective, we are not quite sure if this has been achieved. We certainly support Target 1 in the 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide of “containing our urban footprint and protecting our resources” and the aim for all new housing to be contained in metropolitan Adelaide or in established townships.
Livestock SA was pleased to receive a copy of the SA Water Pricing Inquiry’s Third Report “A Cautious Conclusion” and wishes to applaud the findings as outlined in the report. The Inquiry is to be commended for the work undertaken and for the preparation of a thorough Report, providing in-depth analysis to demonstrate that unreasonably high water prices have been set.
The draft Buffel Grass Strategic Plan is focussed on buffel grass’s negative impact on biodiversity, aboriginal culture and how it has no single control method. The Buffel Grass Task Force has created a biased, subjective document that has neglected the nutritional advantages for livestock, and the economic benefits to pastoralists. The draft Plan emphasises the management of buffel grass to control the infestation in South Australia. However, it has limited information on the controlling method, funding potentials and community involvement events.
Regardless of the merits of this Fire and Emergency Services (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill, Livestock SA wishes to express concern at the lack of consultation before the Bill was brought to State Parliament. In future there needs to be extensive, up-front consultation. It also needs to be timely, allowing plenty of time for discussion and feedback, and to be held at a time when there can be maximum participation. Clarification is also required about which CFS officers will have the power to direct that any activity stop.
Livestock SA wishes to highlight the ‘disability’ of distance and remoteness from Adelaide and good internet access. Virtually all primary producers are finding access to the internet and easy use of various websites are a vital part of running their businesses. Livestock producers continue to express concern and frustration about poor regional telecommunications which limits access and use of the internet including State Government online services.