Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces Vol. 238
Posted on: June 11th, 2015


This week’s quote comes from the Asian Development Bank Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific Special Chapter and demonstrates the rapid increase in food prices since the 1960s.

“Keeping food costs low is difficult. In fact, fast rising food prices have been a global phenomenon since the late 1960s, and particularly since the mid-1980s. In Asia, despite of some variations in trends, the food CPI tends to increase faster than the general CPI for most countries in most years, both before and after the 2008 food crisis”

Read the report here: http://goo.gl/9dAlvn



While the drought in the USA is taking a toll on the American cattle herd, Clarence beef farmers are helping fill the void as NSW records the highest slaughter and export rates in a decade.

The Rural Bank’s National Beef Update found NSW frozen beef exports jumped 148% in 2014.

It also found American frozen beef imports were higher than Japanese imports for the first time since 2002.

The report indicated conditions varied across the country, but beef producers in NSW were capitalising on favourable conditions.

Ray Donovan Stock and Station Agents principal Ray Donovan said the record exports had helped the Clarence Valley market’s recent high prices.

“The US is going through the driest season for many years,” Mr Donovan said. 
“Their herd has been reduced dramatically.”

Mr Donovan said the US had always been a large importer, but their herd reduction had pushed US cattle prices so high they needed to import Australian beef to satisfy their demand.

Media reports indicate the average retail price of regular ground beef in the USA has risen 41% in the last three years.

“The Americans are importing beef to satisfy their local market,” Mr Donovan said. 
“The low Australian dollar and high cattle prices have been a godsend to us.

“I think the market will stay good for a while, but anything can change.”

Rural Bank sales general manager Andrew Smith said continued high prices and favourable domestic market conditions are underpinning a sense of confidence within the Australian beef sector.

“These strong market conditions are welcome news for New South Wales beef producers,” Mr Smith said.

“The 148 % growth in frozen beef is remarkable, but encouragement can also be derived from the steady growth in fresh beef and hide.

“This optimism is tempered by the drought across northern New South Wales and other states.”

Read more: http://goo.gl/v6mXJL



The revolution that is taking place now on the farm involves the addition of intelligence to the technologies already in place to enable what is known as “precision agriculture.” Its goal is to provide farmers with abundant, real-time, actionable information about the state of their fields: how crops are growing, how much water or fertilizer is needed, what weeds and insects may be invading the fields. Like many other industry sectors, farmers are beginning to see the value of getting access to big data that can provide them with a new level of knowledge and control over their production processes.

A number of big names in agriculture are promoting the value of the new technologies. John Deere is now selling self-driving, GPS-guided tractors that, it claims, can make 7% more furrows in a field than a human-driven tractor. The company also offers a data management service that helps farmers collect and analyse the abundant data that is generated by the operation of the autonomous tractor. In 2013, Monsanto, the leading supplier of seeds for agriculture, spent $1 billion to acquire Climate Corp, a company that provides detailed hyperlocal weather information. Using this data, Monsanto is able to offer customized seeds for each field based on the composition of the soil — in some cases, down to the level of each square foot — and the weather pattern above it. The company is also developing machines that automate other tasks, including harvesting crops, probably the most labour-intensive of all farm chores.

This kind of data-driven, precision agriculture has other benefits as well. In the wake of the severe drought that has gripped California in recent years, awareness has grown of agriculture’s vast demand for water, which accounts for nearly three-quarters of all water used in the state. (For example, it has been reported that it takes a gallon of water to produce a single almond, and growing alfalfa is even more water-intensive.) If farmers could identify just which plants in a field need water and when, total water use for crop irrigation could be significantly reduced, which would be a much more effective response to a drought than having city dwellers take shorter showers.

And by enabling farmers to track the development of their crops in detail, it allows them to satisfy the demands of consumers who are increasingly interested in knowing where their food comes from and how it was grown.

Read more: http://goo.gl/wP6SyF



This week’s chart shows the performance of US farmland compared to other real estate assets from 1999 to 2013. The US farmland market has outperformed other US real estate assets over the past 15 years recording an average total return of 13% for agricultural investment properties.

Read more: http://goo.gl/ZhkLj0





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