Year in review 2016-2017, Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association
Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association yearbook; Reports; PublicationNT
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Livestock -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals; Beef cattle -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals; Ranches -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals
Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association
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Presidents Address shouldnt waste any more money on this. The bad news is that a lot of this sinking is thanks to woodland thickening in north Australia. We do not have a CO2 or climate change problem in north Australia we have an arboreal obesity epidemic. Having been a keen observer of such things for 4 decades now it is our biggest threat to sustainability in the north of the NT at least as the data suggests it is across all northern woodland ecosystems. The problem simply stated is; More trees equals less grass, equals less carrying capacity - or more overgrazing and soil loss, not to forget changes to the biodiversity associated with grasslands and open woodlands. If you are not burning late at appropriate time frames; if you are trying to farm carbon; if you are advocating early burns; if you are not permitted to combat woody thickening by clearing and managing cleared areas then you are contributing to creeping unsustainability. And what have our government & industry R&D dollars been doing over this time arguing about an acceptable figure for kg CO2 emitted per kg of beef produced and playing the Eurocentric Kyoto protocol game, and then telling the northern industry we are going broke. Industry R&D needs to get out of climate politics and into landscape management and production. Economic Resilience Rising demand for our products in Asian markets and beyond, and the toll of drought on the national herd elsewhere, has created the perfect storm for property values and changes of ownership locally. Over the last 12 months there have been 20 sales of NT leases completed or commenced. Property prices have increased significantly with interest from both interstate and overseas investors. We welcome all the new people and companies to the NT cattle industry and appreciate your vote of confidence and investment in the future of the north. In the NT Ive found that you are judged on how well you do the job you took on, not how much money you turn up with, what country, state or school you have been to, or what church, football code or political party you believed in. The worst thing we can do in the north is believe our own bulldust. It doesnt matter how much you paid per beast area, or how much you talk it up, productivity is still largely controlled by land capability and water availability and the season that drives it. The country will not produce any more grass and the cattle wont grow any faster or bigger or better just because the land price has gone up. If you arent controlling your woody weeds and thickening, the equation is worse. The productivity (profitability) vs stocking rate relationship is unforgiving. If your production rates are static or declining the first place to look is at the first principles of grazing land management. Access to markets which can afford to pay for a quality product safe, tasty, consistent, free-range, is key. If we are paying more for our grass as well as all the other inputs then we need to be running and selling a more valuable animal. Our product integrity systems must be rigorous, trustworthy and comprehensive and allow for product branding. The NT economy is in a parlous state - an unhealthy proportion of NT industry relies on public funding. We can be proud of the cattle industrys contribution to the NT economy both historically and currently. Families and companies have $4.5 billion dollars invested in raising beef cattle in the NT, and the industry directly earns $1 billion or more per year, mostly from exports. It is a rare industry in the NT. Significant sustainable growth is possible with regionally and enterprise specific approaches, but there is no way that the beef sector alone can drag the NT out of its mendicant state. The dilemma of our time is if and how our industry can co-exist with unconventional shale gas industry, presently the only leftfield potential for balancing the NT books to some extent. Despite throwing the northern beef industry under the vegetation management bus, the politically polite energy policies of state and federal government over the last two decades has cost us jobs, manufacturing industries and added costs to those of us who have survived to date. Without a major shift in direction there is only worse to come. Already our beef sector is trying to compete paying three times as much to process a carcase than in the uS partly energy costs and wages. Trade between nations allows both nations to do the things they are best at and can do it the cheapest comparative advantage to the mutual benefit of both. When Australia is full of coal, natural gas and uranium, why dont we have cheap power to improve our comparative advantage? Why would we only sell our cheap stuff and then try and impose expensive and unreliable renewables on ourselves? When the price of live cattle went up in Indonesia, the meatworks in Qld had to pay more to get cattle. If the price of gas overseas is better, maybe we just pay that price? Governments creating markets seem only to be able to foster another class of short-term carpetbaggers that cream off public money without adding any value. 8 NTCA YEAR IN REVIEW 2016/17
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