The year that was – February

What made headlines in QCL in February

News
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Among the biggest news stories of 2017 was the federal Defence Department's announcement that there would be no forced land acquisitions. It was celebrated from Rocky to Charters Towers and beyond.

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Charters Towers landholders celebrating - Nick and John Brownson, Blair Knuth, and David Nicholas.

Charters Towers landholders celebrating - Nick and John Brownson, Blair Knuth, and David Nicholas.

Hats off to Defence backdown

Jubilation, elation, relief – grown men and women were shedding tears of joy when they heard the news that the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, had pledged that no landholder would be forced to sell their property to the defence department.

Charters Towers grazier John Brownson said his family could return to the many things they’d stopped, while Marlborough landowner Linda Geddes had a similar reaction, saying she was “just ecstatic” at the news.

It was just over two months earlier that Linda talked about the shattering letter from the department that had “pulled a mat from under our feet” and saw her and husband Lawson facing the prospect of losing not just valuable land but country that had been in the family for 140 years.

“I had to go and have a search to prove to myself that the news was real,” Linda said in February.

“The weight has completely gone, I feel we can cope with whatever is coming next. Compulsion was the bad word and that’s gone now.”

She paid tribute to husband Lawson’s insistence that deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce walk out and see the country in question when he visited their property, Couti-Outi.

“He (Barnaby) is someone who knows whether you can fatten a bullock or whether you wouldn’t feed a bandicoot. He could see that straight away. Thank heavens people saw sense.”

John Brownson tempered his excitement with caution, saying he thought any country abutting land owned by the defence department would now be subject to a devaluing effect.

“I hope the officials still go out and look at that land at Pentland,” he said. “This could still come back and bite us a few years down the track.”

UHF decision reversed

A DECISION to make some UHF radios illegal from June this year was reversed in February.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority originally announced that due to fears of congestion the use of 40 channel UHF radios, or CB radios, would no longer be permitted from June 2017. Those affected would have needed to upgrade to 80 channel radios.

But after speaking with CB users and monitoring channels the ACMA reversed their decision allowing use of the radios and interlinking of CB repeaters. ACMA’s Dominic Byrne said it was a common sense approach. Full story here. 

One Moore Metallic, ridden by Rob Leach, Tamworth, topped the Landmark Classic sale, selling for $210,000 to Wally Rae, Marlborough. Photo by Wild Fillies Photography

One Moore Metallic, ridden by Rob Leach, Tamworth, topped the Landmark Classic sale, selling for $210,000 to Wally Rae, Marlborough. Photo by Wild Fillies Photography

Classic colt fetches $210,000

A SON of the legendary US Quarter Horse sire Metallic Cat set a new record for performance horses sold in Australia when he sold for $210,000 at the Landmark Classic sale at Tamworth in February. 

One Moore Metallic, a rising three-year-old colt from Australian Stockmans Hall of Fame open campdraft winner One Moore Diva, was sold by Russ and Bec Bradley, R & R Livestock, Officer, Victoria, to longtime Classic supporter, campdrafter Wally Rae, The Overflow, Marlborough.

This year’s sale, which averaged $14,568 and had an 83 per cent clearance, surpassed the previous Landmark Classic record for $120,000, set in 2013 for One Stylish Pepto.

Read the full report here. 

February: Ian and Ivan Price, Moongool, Yuleba, with their line of 390 joined and unjoined heifers.

February: Ian and Ivan Price, Moongool, Yuleba, with their line of 390 joined and unjoined heifers.

Dry hits market confidence 

By February, ongoing dry conditions were starting to have an impact on a sliding cattle market. 

The month started with some solid yardings at Roma with 7700 head yarded for the February 7 sale. 

Among the vendors that day was Rick Whitton, Myrtleville, Injune, who sold 220 Charolais cross steers and 160 heifers after an isolated but “brilliant season”.

The Charolais cross steers sold to an average of 360c/kg at 382kg to return $1376/hd while 162 heifers sold to an average of 315c/kg at 380kg to return $1202/hd.

Landmark’s Rod Turner said that yarding featured a lot of heavier cattle which still sold well.

“There was a lot of mixed quality cattle. With the yarding continuing to become big it (the market) may suppress.

“There was 355c/kg for heavy feeders and plenty of those backgrounder steers made 370c/kg and 385c/kg.”

With no way of knowing that Cyclone Debbie was on her way and set to deliver some solid rainfall to many places east of about Emerald and Roma in March, producers like the Price family had started offloading stock in earnest by the end of February. 

Ongoing dry conditions and the sale of one of their properties saw Ian and Ivan Price, Moongool Charolais, Yuleba, offer a quality draft of Charolais and Charbray females at the Roma store sale on Tuesday February 21. 

The Price family sold 390 joined and unjoined heifers for an average 297c/kg to return $1309/head at the benchmark sale. The joined heifers had been running with Angus bulls since December 1.

“These females would have been kept but we sold a property 12 months ago and we haven’t got the room for them,” Ivan Price said. “And being dry too, we had to lighten off a little so these are part of that process.

February’s hot weather and lack of rain was beginning to take its toll on the store cattle market with MLA’s benchmark Eastern Young Cattle Indicator slipping to beginning of the year levels. 

While still at a historically high rate, the EYCI stood at 630.5c on Tuesday February 21, dropping to levels not seen since late 2016. 

At that rate, the EYCI was 95c below the 725.75c record high set in August. 

Mecardo predictions 

In late February, our national beef writer, Shan Goodwin, reported that leading livestock market analyst Mecardo was predicting a cattle market correction, likely to be an eight to ten per cent drop, during 2017. 

Mecardo analyst Matt Dalgleish told producers in an industry webinar in February that there had been three cycles of broader price corrections in 2002, 2006 and 2012.

“On average previous corrections show we can reasonably expect the market to come off by around 15pc,” he said.

“Early signs in BOM global modeling are pointing to a return to El Nino late this year and early 2018 - that could be the catalyst to get the correction happening.”

While tight supply, and a strengthening international outlook, would support prices in the short term, the extreme levels of young cattle prices were predicted to have passed, the webinar heard.

Blackall stock theft

QUEENSLAND Parks and Wildlife Service nabbed one of its own in an alleged cattle stealing racket in February. 

Officers from the state's Stock and Rural Crime Investigation Squad alleged the offences were committed in Idalia National Park, west of Blackall. 

Two people were charged with livestock stealing and fraud offences after investigators in Idalia. A search warrant was also executed on two properties in the Blackall area. 

A 50-year-old woman, a ranger of the park and a 72-year-old man were charged with fraud and other stock related offences.

Rob and Chris Patch of the Peanut Van with their Kingaroy Flavoured Peanuts which are being sold in IGA.

Rob and Chris Patch of the Peanut Van with their Kingaroy Flavoured Peanuts which are being sold in IGA.

IGA deal for the Peanut Van 

Kingaroy Peanut Van owners Rob and Chris Patch landed a handy deal with IGA earlier this year. Their iconic flavoured peanuts hit the shelves of IGA stores across Queensland. Read Lucy Kinbacher’s full story here. 

Landline lifeline

On their own: Will Butler, Athol, Blackall is among thousands saying their safety will be compromised without a guaranteed telephone landline service. Picture: Sally Cripps.

On their own: Will Butler, Athol, Blackall is among thousands saying their safety will be compromised without a guaranteed telephone landline service. Picture: Sally Cripps.

The Butler family at Blackall was symbolic of many in rural Australia for whom a landline phone is a lifeline to essential services.

While they are able to access a mobile service with the aid of a booster, they are not willing to relinquish their landline and be at the mercy of varying signals.

The Butlers were among thousands of rural people and representative organisations voicing opposition to the recommendation by the Productivity Commission to remove the mandate for every household to have a telephone landline.

The commission’s draft report, released in December, was the halfway point in a 12-month inquiry into the extent that the federal government should be required to support universal access to a minimum level of retail telecommunications services.

The report said that in a digital age, the voice-based USO – costed at $3 billion in present value terms over 20 years and introduced when telecommunications consisted of basic telephones and payphones – is “anachronistic and needs to change”.

ICPA, BIRRR opposed

The Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association opposed the recommendation to remove the mandate for every household to have a telephone landline, saying it ignored the needs of people in rural and remote communities.

It was a similar story from the Better Internet for Rural Regional and Remote Australia group, which considered the commission’s recommendation for rural telephone customers to rely on nbn to be of such concern that it had nine volunteers in four states working on its submission. It had amassed a number of case studies to argue against devolving any essential voice service to nbn.

Full details here.

Noeline’s passing mourned in NQ

Noeline loved working with horses.

Noeline loved working with horses.

Family and friends mourned the passing of one of north Queensland’s favourite daughters, Noeline Ikin, this month.

The passionate rural advocate and former political candidate lost her battle with a malignant brain tumour.

Noeline, from the Gulf Savannah community of Georgetown, was widely regarded as a person who fought for the people of the north in all sorts of ways.

She ran a fierce campaign for the Queensland LNP at the 2013 federal election in the seat of Kennedy, almost toppling veteran independent Bob Katter, reducing his lead to 2.2 per cent with a 16.1pc swing.

Organic beef demand boom

AUSTRALIA is in a prime position to make the most of red hot consumer demand for organic beef in the United States and Europe, but in February this year, some industry leaders were warning that a close eye had to be kept on ensuring growth was well planned.

Organic Federation of Australia chair Simone Tully - confident in the future of Australia's organic beef industry.

Organic Federation of Australia chair Simone Tully - confident in the future of Australia's organic beef industry.

JBS Australia, the country’s largest beef processor, had just announced it would kick off full production of a certified organic beef program next month, with the US firmly in its sights.

JBS said it was looking to “aggressively grow” production numbers for its organic brand, Acres, and it saw domestic market demand for the niche article as also having significant potential.

Rabobank forecast US and European markets for organic food sales would grow around three times faster than overall food sales in the next ten years.

IBISWorld put year-on-year growth of the organic industry in Australia out to 2020 at 13 per cent.

The World of Organic Agriculture says the global market for organic products was worth $104 billion, with 48pc of the market in the US and 44pc in Europe.

Australian Organic Meats managing director Simone Tully said the JBS move demonstrated the optimism for the future that exists in organic beef circles.

“A rising tide lifts all boats,” she said.

“Of course, the hope is as more organic beef brands come online, customers are lined up.

“This must be done strategically in order to keep the growth in balance with market demand.

“We certainly don’t want to see organic beef commoditised.”

JBS agreed. 

The company’s northern commercial manager Brendan Tatt said over the past half a decade or so, JBS had been shifting its focus towards developing strong brands that are aligned with customer and consumer demand as a way to improve its international competitiveness and drive increased carcase revenue.

“No longer can we expect to compete in a price war with other exporting countries, especially with our high cost of conversion,” he said.

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