Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces Vol. 213
Posted on: December 18th, 2014


Wheat prices have reached a five-month high, on the back of speculation Russia may move to curb its wheat exports.

Grains market analyst Lloyd George, of Ag Scentia, says the Russian Government has been sending mixed messages, but there’s been consistent talk for several days that it may introduce some kind of restriction on wheat exports.

They’ve been saying on one hand that they are not looking at putting in any export quotas or limits. On the other hand, they are saying they are getting more stringent on quality which could lead to restrictions on exports. The noises they are making is that they are concerned about food security and maintaining enough grain at home to keep local users happy.

There’s a lot of investment money that goes into a whole range of different commodities and at the moment there appears to be money that’s flying out of the energy (stocks) and some of that is coming back into ag commodities. The really sharp decrease in crude oil, that’s certainly coincided with a run-up in funds owning a long position in grains and oilseeds.




New technology in the agricultural sector is prompting Australian farmers to consider how they might collect, use and share data from their properties to improve their productivity and minimise risks.

From the cabin of his harvester, farmer Neale Postlethwaite casts his eyes across his wheat field in western Victoria. Like much of the grain belt in southern Australia, the crop has been a disappointment, with too little rain during the growing season.

This kind of technology is widely used in the United States grain belt, sometimes with mind-boggling results, according to US agricultural consultant Mark Faust.

‘The data that’s gathered allows you to program sprayers to spray or not spray over certain sections of land and this allows you to save hundreds of thousands [of dollars], or maybe even millions, depending on the size of your farm,’ he says.

‘The minds on Wall Street … analyse financial data, we’ll get that same kind of brain power analysing agronomics data,’ he says. ‘I meet agronomists who can increase the profitability of growers by 20 or 30 per cent, not making that much of a change in the upward investments or inputs but just being more strategic about things. It’s going to be extremely powerful.’

Right now, the read-outs that are coming from the harvester on Postlethwaite’s wheat farm are for his eyes only, but the technology exists to beam the data from his machinery to virtually anyone, anywhere in the world.

Netherlands-based tech expert Danny Mekic says big corporations are very keen to capture and analyse farming data, to know what is happening on the ground. He says the manufacturers of the data-collection machines are especially interested, along with seed companies and supermarket chains. However, Mekic believes that the data collected is most beneficial to farmers on the land.

‘Everyone needs the data to improve their own yield or their production or their product but the most important ones are the farmers themselves. They’re actually the ones that are bringing the most value in the chain,’ says Mekic.

Understandably, farmers are beginning to ask questions about who owns their data and could gain access to it, particularly when information can be transferred to a cloud or other remote storage services—sometimes without the user’s awareness.

The American Farm Bureau recently tackled this issue, demanding big corporations protect farmers’ rights. Recently, key agricultural companies including Monsanto, DuPont, Deere and Dow signed a code of conduct that ensured farmers would retain ownership of any information collected on their property. The code also stipulated that companies collecting and distributing that data must specify how it will be used.

Mekic says farmers need to start valuing their data as a tradeable commodity, just like any other farm product. He also believes that farmers need to find ways to share information, which would aid problem-solving and help develop better long-term strategies.

‘Farmers all over the world are going to cooperate more and more with big data, using each others’ knowledge and innovations,’ he says. ‘But in order to do that … they need a place to find each other. In that way if you want to grow your farm or you have a strategic question or you have a problem with your yield you easily can find someone else in the world, another farmer in the world who can help you.’

To read more visit: http://goo.gl/dMbdrG



Australian Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb has announced that Australia’s free trade agreement with Japan will begin on January 15.

Mr Robb says the implementation of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) will mean exporters will benefit from two rounds of tariff cuts in the first half of 2015.

The second round of tariff cuts will take place at the beginning of April.

The JAEPA is the first free trade deal Japan has made with a major exporting nation and will lead to reduced or eliminated tariffs for a range of agricultural commodities, including beef, dairy, cotton, wine and beer.

“Like the back-to-back tariff cuts provided by the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement, this will deliver immediate benefits for exporters and significantly enhance their competitive position in the Japanese market,” Mr Robb said.

He adds that more than 97 per cent of Australia’s goods exports to Japan will receive preferential access, or enter duty-free, once the agreement is fully implemented.

“JAEPA will expand opportunities with our second largest trading partner across a wide range of industries, including agriculture and processed foods, resources, manufacturing and services.

“Australian beef, for example, with exports to Japan last year worth $1.4 billion, will be a major beneficiary with the 38.5 per cent tariff to be halved over 15 years, with heavy front-end loading, including an 8 per cent cut in the first year.

Mr Robb says that the FTA will give Australian exporters a major advantage over major competitor, the United States, and that changes to foreign investment rules will be a boost for Japan.

“The FTA will also support growth in investment from Japan, already our third largest investor, by raising the foreign investment screening threshold for private Japanese investment into Australia.”

The JAEPA will be the second of three historic trade agreements, concluded by the Abbott Government, to enter into force after the Korea Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) began last week.

The government agreed to the terms of a free trade deal with China last month.




Production and productivity growth in tree nuts in Australia has been strong in recent years. This surge in tree nut production has occurred due to the rapid increase in demand from China and the US. At current rates, the Australian tree nut industry farm gate value is projected to reach $1 billion by 2020.




“Well bugger!”





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