Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces Vol. 320
Posted on: January 17th, 2017



This week’s quote comes from Rabobank’s Dairy Quarterly Q4 2016 report and highlights the changing dynamic in the global dairy industry.

“Milk supply from dairy export regions has fallen sharply, by 2.6m tonnes in 2H 2016, with milk volumes from Oceania and Europe severely challenged. In addition, domestic demand in the US and Europe continued to strengthen, negating the need for further stock growth and reducing volumes available for export by 4.5m tonnes in LME terms. As a result, global dairy prices have rocketed upwards, increasing by over 45% in 2H 2016.”



The U.S. Department of Agriculture has taken a step toward increasing the production of organic foods – which has not kept pace with demand – by launching a program to certify farmland that growers are in the process of switching to organic.

Obtaining certification under the program will allow farmers to sell products raised in accordance with organic guidelines for higher prices than conventionally-grown goods, according to the Organic Trade Association, an industry group. That should help growers cover the extra costs associated with transitioning to organic farming, the group said.

Demand for organic foods has been strong as consumers are increasingly seeking products considered to be more natural and healthy. In 2015, total organic product sales hit a new high of $43.3 billion, up 11 percent from the previous year’s record level, according to the Organic Trade Association.

The program will “facilitate the investment in transitional agriculture through a consistent set of rules, and ultimately support the continued growth of organic agriculture,” the USDA said in a notice.

Farmers must grow crops for three years without using prohibited substances, such as genetically-modified seeds and synthetic pesticides, in order to be certified as fully organic. Producers of grains, such as wheat, will benefit most from the new certification program because that is the sector in which demand is most outstripping supply, said Nate Lewis, farm policy director for the trade association. Organic grains have seen heavy demand to feed organically-raised livestock and to make organic breads and cereals for humans.


Software initially developed to safeguard the Canadian poultry industry is being trialled by South Australian wineries to help keep pests and diseases out of premium vineyards.

The vineyard cyber monitoring system known as Project Boundary Rider has been designed by Canadian company Be Seen Be Safe to keep SA’s $1.78 billion wine industry free of devastating pests and diseases such as phylloxera and Pearce’s disease.

Vinehealth Australia, based in Adelaide, is overseeing the project and has begun a six-month trial at 30 vineyards in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale.

It will include the busy vintage period, from February to April, when vineyards and wineries are susceptible to pests and disease partly due to high traffic volumes in and out of properties.

The Boundary Rider app places a virtual fence around vineyards, tracking the movements of people across boundaries via GPS on a smartphone.

Movements are recorded in real-time, with vignerons benefiting from an up-to-date electronic visitor record of anyone with a smartphone who has moved across their geofences.

In the event of a pest or disease outbreak, the technology provides instant data to enable a rapid response to contain the spread and minimise loss.

Vinehealth Australia technical manager Suzanne McLoughlin said while it was still early days for the project, initial feedback from users had been positive.

“Having it run over vintage and in the lead-up is good because it is one of the times of the year when vineyards are experiencing high numbers of visitors and contractors coming onto properties,” she said.

According to the Orgainsation of Vine and Wine, South Australia produced 51 per cent of the Australia’s crush in 2016 and about 75 per cent of Australia’s premium wine from some of the oldest vines in the world.

Vinehealth Australia is also working on a second app to help growers identify and treat pests, comply with local and state regulations, and act as a “one stop shop” for viticulture biosecurity.

South Australian Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell said the Boundary Rider system was a first in biosecurity for the wine sector nationally.

“It will protect vineyards from pest and disease threats and provide critical intelligence about the movement of people coming in and out of properties,” he said. “Wine is one of South Australia’s key export industries and we grow about 50 per cent of Australia’s grapes. It’s vital we do everything we can to protect the industry’s future and South Australia’s reputation as the producer of premium food and wine from our clean environment.”


In 2016, global cereal production is expected to increase by 1.5%, or 38 million tonnes, to hit a new record of 2.569 billion tonnes. World wheat production is expected to exceed the 2015 production record by 1.2%. This week’s chart shows the inflation-adjusted price of wheat since 1914.
Source: USDA



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