In the aftermath of crisis, businesses and their communities lean on each other to navigate the long road to recovery. Even in areas where extreme weather events are an expected annual occurrence, things can turn quickly, leaving entire towns stranded or without access to crucial infrastructure. Read more
Aussie made, Aussie grade
When operating on agricultural land, it is important to prioritise services and supply designed for our unique and often unpredictable landscapes. So often, Australian farmers are left disappointed with the quality of imported consumables such as tractor lubricants. This was the case for Peter Vicary in the 1980s, when he and his sons, Ben and Andrew, founded Gulf Western Oil. Read more
Agriculture minister announces $500 million for more food products
Federal minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, has announced a $500 million investment to “encourage farmers to create more food products in Australia, in addition to selling raw commodities overseas.” Read more
Norco announces milk price increase to aid recovering farmers
Norco, Australia’s largest and oldest dairy co-operative, has announced a milk price increase for May and June which will see a $1.6 million injection go towards supporting its farmer base following an exceptionally difficult period of production. Read more
Victoria is investing in on-farm sustainability and reducing energy costs
Meredith Dairy, a family run business in western Victoria, is one of several businesses benefitting from the Agriculture Energy Investment Plan (AEIP), which is helping farmers to save on energy costs and reduce their on-farm emissions. Read more
Charles Sturt researches fast-growing wheat varieties
Charles Sturt University’s Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation is researching the characteristics of fast-growing wheat, which can be sown in winter to help farmers in south eastern Australia adjust to a changing climate. Read more
Oiling the wheel for Boundary Bend’s olive harvesters
Australia’s award-winning extra virgin olive oil, Cobram Estate, is advertised as ‘the only oil you need,’ and while that message pertains to the delicate process of cooking, the less delicate process of harvesting the olives relies on other types of lubricants, as Bryden Coote, Branch Manager at BSC’s Swan Hill explains.
“When you have a chain worth thousands of dollars installed on a harvesting machine, it can become quite expensive if the chains do not last through the harvest season, not to mention the downtime from having to replace the chain in the middle of harvesting,” says Bryden.
Cobram Estate is the flagship brand of Boundary Bend Limited (BBL) – Australia’s largest olive farmer and producer of extra virgin olive oil. Across its multiple olive groves in the Murray Valley region of Victoria, BBL owns over 2.5 million olive trees on more than 6000 hectares of farmland.
To efficiently harvest olives from these groves, BBL has been involved in developing its own unique olive harvester machines that enable continuous harvesting rather than the discontinuous system used in most other olive growing countries. During the harvest season, these machines work 24 hours a day to pick the olives when they are at their best.
Over the past couple of years and as recommended by Bryden, Sam Griffiths, Maintenance Manager at the Boundary Bend Estate has been using CRC TAC2 chain lubricants for the maintenance of the Boundary Bend harvester machines – with more than satisfactory results.
“Every day, as part of our routine maintenance, we spray the CRC TAC2 on the harvester chains and this has helped us extend the service life of the chains considerably,” says Sam. “We only use the harvester machines during the harvest season but by keeping the chains lubricated throughout the year, we have almost halved our chain breakdowns. Now we only replace the chains once or twice a year as part of our routine maintenance.”
Iain Faber, National Channel Manager at CRC Industries explains why TAC2 is a suitable choice for lubricating high-speed chains, such as the ones in Boundary Bend’s harvesters.
“The CRC TAC2 is a dual-viscosity lubricant, which means it can be sprayed onto the chain as an oil but it firms up into a grease-like consistency as it sets, enabling it to remain in place without flinging off. Because of this unique formulation, TAC2 can penetrate into the pins and the seals in the chain to effectively protect the chain against wear.
“Moreover, the TAC2 lubricant is resistant to water wash downs, so it can be safely used in areas where water is present. It has a wide operating temperature range, so you can use TAC2 in both hot and cold temperatures.”
But TAC2 is not the only chain lubricant CRC has on offer. The CRC GEL TAC is another chain lubricant with similar properties as TAC2 but suited to different applications, as Iain explains.
“I always use the example of a motorbike and a forklift,” says Iain. “Whereas the TAC2 is best suited for high speed applications like motorbike chains, GEL TAC is designed to stay in place in low speed, high pressure applications such as the chains used in general leaf and pin chains and overhead forklifts.
“The CRC GEL TAC has the similar benefits as the TAC2 in terms of dual-viscosity and water resistance, in addition to having a higher temperature performance. The GEL TAC can withstand temperatures up to 300 degree Celsius compared to the 165 degree Celsius in TAC2. Both products are water-insoluble, meaning that they both perform very well in high water environments and resist water wash off.
Additionally, CRC also offers the Food Grade range of chain lubricants for applications where risk of incidental contact with food is present.
“The CRC Food Grade chain lubricants use a special blend of mineral oil and synthetic additives. The formulation for these lubricants is such that after you spray the oil, it forms bubbles and this foaming action gives the oil better penetration rate into the chain,” he says.
“CRC’s Food Grade range are all NSF-H1 certified and tested for a list of 25 allergens, making them safe to use across all food processing applications. CRC also has all of the certifications required for audit purposes, enabling food processors to easily produce these when required.”
Back to the context of the BBL application, Bryden says in addition to recommending the best lubrication product for each application, BSC experts can also advise on the best maintenance regime to help extend the chain longevity for customers.
“Our customers invest heavily on chains and sprockets for their equipment and it’s important that these chains are maintained as best as possible. When BSC staff visit any site, they often check the equipment and make maintenance recommendations depending on the site conditions and the equipment available on the plant,” says Bryden.
As for Sam, he says he is quite pleased with the services he receives from the BSC Swan Hill branch, particularly Bryden, with whom he has been engaging regularly for the past four years.
“BSC is a very good supplier and the team are genuinely helpful, always going out of their way to supply us the required parts and products when we need them urgently. It’s a relationship built on trust and grown over time.”
Read more articles like this at: www.lets-roll.com.au
Staying a ‘cut’ ahead
How Midwest Fabrication, a Queensland-based manufacturer of grain harvesting equipment, grew from building the first machine for their own farm to gaining national recognition for their products in just over two decades is the material great Aussie success stories are made of.
Martin Schutt, a second-generation grain farmer started Midwest on his family farm north of Moonie in Queensland. After purchasing his first combine harvester in 1998, Martin was frustrated with the performance of the imported cutting platforms and thought he could improve the design to gain better efficiencies in the field.
Starting from a basic sketch drawn around the kitchen table, the Schutt family were able to develop their first cutting platform in the workshop and test it in the field. The platform soon received national recognition from the contract harvesting community for its simple and efficient design. Orders started pouring in forcing the business to relocate to Dalby to be able to meet the increasing demands.
The company is renowned for its innovation winning multiple awards including Best New Innovation Award, Best Australian Agricultural Machine, Best Manufacturing Business and Business of the Year.
Martin says Midwest was the first manufacturer in the world to build a 12 metre (40 ft) front in 1998, and the 15 metre fronts followed a decade later. The advancements in innovation continue to set the standards and benchmark leading the world in grain harvesting technology now producing a whopping 18.3 metre (60 ft) harvest front, another world first.
But Midwest Fabrication’s innovations did not stop there. Over the years, the company has grown its range of draper platforms to suit different applications and fit all major combine harvester brands. Additionally, the company also produces a wide range of accessories and spare parts for its cutting platforms, including cutting knives specially designed for Australian farming conditions.
Midwest’s sole goal is to help increase harvesting efficiency for farmers and contact harvesters while reducing overheads and running costs. The wider drapers mean customers are working their harvesters to maximum capacity, saving time, fuel costs and receiving better return on their investments.
Midwest Fabrication has built a highly successful Australia wide dealer network consisting of 92 Agricultural dealers supporting our product nationally and are currently in the process of developing a one-acre factory in Dalby to bring its engineering and manufacturing facilities under one roof.
Martin believes such a rapid growth by a family business would not have been possible without dedication to continuous improvement and innovation.
“It’s only through constant improvement and being innovative that we’ve been able to achieve what we have achieved. Ever since we built our first unit, we’ve been up against some of the largest global agricultural machinery manufacturers; but through constant innovation, we’ve been able to remain ahead of the competition.
Over the past 16 years, Midwest Fabrication has been working with CBC Australia – as the largest supplier of bearings and industrial parts in Australia – to source components for its in-house designed products.
Martin says the collaboration with CBC has enabled Midwest Fabrication to refine its products further, making them more efficient and durable.
“We are continually improving the mechanical design of our products. In one example, CBC helped us replace the original four-band ‘B’ type v-belts on the main drive with the Gates high-strength Predator belts, and more recently we improved the design again and introduced the Gates Polychain carbon belts, providing a more efficient, quieter and cooler running drive belt.”
Warren Beale, CBC’s Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) manager for Queensland, says apart from being a key supplier, CBC also offers engineering and design supports to Midwest Fabrication where required.
“After so many years of working with Midwest Fabrication and holding regular meetings to understand their requirements, we now have a very clear understanding of the products they need each harvest season. This allows CBC to maintain the right stock level for Midwest Fabrication to meet its requirements when their demand is at its peak.
“Additionally, we also help them with engineering support and application-specific information. This might be helping with product improvements as it was in the case of the Gates Polychain belt upgrades or suggesting alternative components to make the designs lighter and more efficient,” he says.
Commenting on winning the Gold prize for Motion Asia Pacific’s Let’s Roll: Australian Business Awards 2020, Martin says the win is a result of hard work put forward by the team, as much as a result of engineering excellence and innovation.
“This award is also a recognition of our staff’s skills, their dedication to the business and their pride in their workmanship. If not for them, we would not be here today,” says Martin.
“As business owners, it is easy to get lost in the day-to-day running and focussing on keeping the wheels turning and not celebrate the successes when they come along. This recognition is a great reminder for us to reflect on what we have built over the years from that sketch around the kitchen table, our significant growth, and the exciting future ahead of Midwest.”
Midwest Fabrication is a Gold Award winner at the Let’s Roll: Australian Business Awards 2020. To learn more about the Awards, click here.
Terms of reference released for Murray Darling Basin water market
The Coalition Government has today released terms of reference for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) inquiry into the Murray Darling Basin water market.
The inquiry, which delivers on a Coalition Government election promise, will look at options to improve the transparency and efficiency of the water market.
It will also examine changes in water use, carryover water, trade between water valleys and systems and the effect of water speculators on the market.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that water was the lifeblood of communities in the Murray Darling Basin and it was important that the market operated in a transparent and effective manner.
“As with any market it is important to take a look at how it is performing and whether it is operating as intended and to the benefit of communities who rely on the Basin.”
Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the Government had listened to the concerns of farmers in delivering on this election commitment.
“I promised this thorough inquiry after hearing from farmers as I travelled up and down the Basin,” Minister Littleproud said.
“Farmers told me they had concerns around changes in water use, trade between valleys and the effect speculators have on the water market.
“It’s important to make sure the market is operating as intended – our regional communities depend on it. We need a transparent market in which farmers have timely access to accurate information.
“I invite farmers to participate in this inquiry.”
The Government has asked for an interim report to be delivered early in 2020 with a final report by the end of 2020.
An outline of the terms of reference for the inquiry can be found via the Treasury website.
Permanently increasing FHA assets test for farmers
More farmers will be able to access vital assistance when they are going through tough times, with the Coalition Government today introducing legislation to maintain the net farm asset threshold for Farm Household Allowance (FHA) at $5 million.
Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said the Government was delivering on its election commitment to keep the asset test increase and make the FHA available to more farmers.
“Australian farmers are very resilient, but like everyone else there are times when they need additional support,” Minister McKenzie said. “The FHA is in place to help farmers facing hardship, particularly during drought, to implement plans to improve long-term financial circumstances and assess their options.
“Last year the Government temporarily increased the cap from $2.6 million to $5 million to support farmers affected by the current drought who were in financial difficulties, but were notionally asset rich.
“The change was temporary, pending the FHA Review, which ultimately recommended making the temporary increase permanent. This increase allows farmers to access support without having to jeopardise the income-producing capacity of their farm by selling farm equipment. It also recognises that farm assets can be difficult to sell quickly and, during tough times, are often sold for less than they’re worth.
“Increasing the asset threshold to $5 million increases the potential pool of FHA recipients by approximately 8,000 additional farmers. The changes introduced today build on the extension of the time farmers and their partners will be able to receive FHA from three to four cumulative years.”
NSW government offers more funding for drought-stricken farmers
The NSW government has released a $500 million emergency drought relief package as 99 per cent of NSW is in drought.
This takes the total support to more than $1 billion, as farmers struggle with the worsening drought.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said farmers were facing one of the driest winters on record, resulting in failing crops, drastic water shortages and a diminishing supply of fodder to sustain livestock.
Farmers had told Berejiklian they needed urgent help, she said.
READ: Dry weather in Australia significantly impacting crops
“To date we have already committed $584m in drought support, most of which is focused on preparation for drought conditions. However, conditions are now so dire that further support is needed to address the more immediate needs for farmers and their communities until the drought breaks.”
The major feature of the emergency relief package is about $190m for the introduction of drought transport subsidies.
The subsidies cover up to 50 per cent of the full cost of transporting fodder, water for stock and livestock to pasture, slaughter or sale.
The NSW government will offer a transport subsidy of up to $20,000 per farm business.
The relief measure will also be back-dated so farmers can access additional subsidies for freight expenses incurred since January 1, 2018.
Deputy premier and minister for regional NSW, John Barilaro, said the drought had quickly worsened across the state because June and July were drier than expected.
Farmers are sourcing fodder from interstate, as local supply has deteriorated.
“We said we would constantly reassess the conditions and relief measures, and the fact we’ve now increased our drought-relief package to over $1b is a reflection of how serious this drought is, and how much we value the health and wellbeing of our farming and regional communities,” said Barilaro.
“We have backdated this relief measure to the start of the year when the drought intensified, especially in the Upper Hunter and Western NSW. This means eligible farmers who made the decision to destock earlier this year will still benefit from this new relief package.”
Minister for primary industries Niall Blair said waivers were in place on local land services annual rates, fixed charges on water licences, registration costs for class one agricultural vehicles, and interest on existing farm innovation fund loans.
“We know many families are also having to bring in water for domestic use, which is why we have also set aside additional funding for this essential service. The package we have has to be fair, it has to be equitable and it has to be able to be adapted to all types of farming businesses right across NSW.”
Foodbank and Coles fight food shortages in South Australia
Coles and Foodbank have begun a new campaign to enable poor local families to be assisted by shoppers in South Australia.
Customers will have the opportunity to buy food donation cards with values of $5, $10 or $20 at Coles supermarkets, which will fund much needed food items for Foodbank’s warehouses and food hubs.
Providing more than four million meals annually through a large network of charity partners as well as school breakfast clubs in South Australia, Foodbank is the s largest food relief organisation in the country.
According to Foodbank SA Chief Executive Officer Greg Pattinson, more than 3,000 children miss out on Foodbank’s services every month.
“It’s not just traditionally vulnerable people they’ll be helping, but low income families doing it tough, single parents and the elderly, often within your own neighbourhood,” Pattinson said.
Coles has worked nationally with Foodbank for the past 14 years, donating food and groceries each year that have been used to provide a total of 20 million meals.
Coles State General Manager Neil Lake said Coles was proud to work with Foodbank in South Australia.
“Coles has been donating food and grocery items to Foodbank for more than a decade, to help families and individuals in need to put a meal on the table,” Lake said.
“Customers and team members are telling us that they want a simpler way to make a difference in the community, and give people the products they require to prepare healthy meals. The food donation card campaign will provide this and will make a major difference to the people in our community who need it most.”
The donation cards will be displayed on stands inside Coles stores and then scanned at the checkout and added to a customer’s grocery bill.
Green and Gold-standard: Australian food products surge in popularity
Despite living in an age where foods are increasingly imported from overseas retailers alongside noticeable international brands, the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research show most consumers are still buying Australian-grown foods.
In the 12 months to September 2015, nearly 90 per cent of Australians aged 14+ said they’d be more likely to buy products made or grown in Australia –a noticeable increase over 85 per cent in 2013.
Although Australians’ renewed preference for ‘home-grown’ shopping is striking across the range of manufacturing industries, food ranked the highest amongst the population to be purchased if labelled ‘Made in Australia’.
In 2013, 84 per cent of the population were likely to buy food products made in Australia. By September 2015, that number had risen up to 88 per cent.
A two per cent increase also occurred in the wine sector, with 72 per cent of the popopulation willing to buy wines grown or made in Australia in 2015.
According to Roy Morgan Research CEO Michele Levine, “The love affair between Australians and Aussie-made products shows no sign of fading. In fact, it’s the healthiest it’s been for two years, with nine in every 10 Australians saying they’re more likely to buy products in Australia.”
In speaking with Food Magazine, a spokesman for Australian Made said consumers have the reassurance that food grown locally will meet high Australian standards.
By buying locally-grown goods, money is then given to support local jobs that can produce great products and produce throughout 2016.
Coles gives farmers cash to innovate
Three Australian farming families will invest in innovation and help to replace food imports into Australia after being announced as the first-ever recipients of Coles’ $50 million Nurture Fund.
The Clark family from Westerway Raspberry Farm in Tasmania, the Wiese family from Yarranabee in Western Australia, and the Moon family from Moonrocks in Queensland were announced by Coles Managing Director John Durkan as the first recipients of Coles’ grants.
Westerway Raspberry Farm will become the first growers in Australia to adopt new freezing technology, which will allow them to supply Tasmanian frozen raspberries to customers on a large scale.
Yarranabee will build the first-ever large-scale quinoa processing plant in mainland Australia, which will enable them to process their locally grown quinoa at Narrogin in Western Australia.
Moonrocks will help to replace imports of garlic by growing and packing garlic in Queensland with new storage, machinery and equipment installed at their farm at St George.
David and Andrew Moon from Moonrocks at St George have received a grant, which will help them to replace imports of garlic at a time when Australian-grown garlic is not available to meet customer demand.
Speaking six months after he launched the Coles Nurture Fund to support small businesses in the food and grocery sector, Mr Durkan said the three local businesses were great innovators in the food industry and deserving recipients of the first Coles Nurture Fund grants.
“These three businesses are breaking new ground by supplying Australian customers with locally-grown products which are so difficult to source in Australia,” he said.
“We know Australians want to buy locally-grown produce and these first Nurture Fund recipients will use the funding to make this happen.”
Businesses with less than $25 million in annual revenue and 50 or fewer full-time employees can apply for the next round of funding from the Coles Nurture Fund as from September 25. More information is available at www.coles.com.au/nurturefund
Campbell to lead the herd at Sanger
Sanger, a leading Australian meat sales and marketing business and subsidiary of the newly formed Bindaree Beef Group announced the appointment of James Campbell as Chief Executive Officer.
Mr Campbell replaces Graham Greenhalgh who has successfully led the business for the last 2 years. Mr Greenhalgh will take on the new role of Director, Business Development for the Bindaree Beef Group.
Prior to joining ANZ, James held positions at KPMG in Audit and Corporate Recovery with primary work undertaken in restructuring and insolvency for corporate agricultural businesses.
James is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (‘ICAA’), holds a double degree in Commerce (Accounting) and Business Administration from the University of Canberra. During his time in China he served two terms as a Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.
“James has a strong grasp of the key challenges and opportunities facing our customers and a clear vision that aligns with the Sanger executive team. James takes on the Chief Executive role at an exciting time for Sanger, with a number of major projects underway as the business looks to further specialise in supplying branded meat programs,” Bindaree Beef Group Chairman, JR McDonald said.