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TAS Country : July 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010 Tasmanian Country 19 Stock Report Healthier outlook for Tassie agribusinesses JENNIFER CRAWLEY WORKING capital expenditure by Tasmanian agribusinesses hit re- cord levels in the June quarter, according to a key report. Westpac Tasmanian agribusin- ess boss Greg Coughlan said the Tasmanian performance was posi- tive but warned there was a long way to go for many farmers. It might look green in the north and north-west, but the drought was still having an impact on many farming operations, Mr Coughlan said. But the Meander irrigation scheme and the Whitemore scheme in progress will help ne- gate drought problems in the future, he said. ''The global financial crisis is still hitting the dairy industry and the vegetable processing area pretty hard,'' Mr Coughlan said. ''Capital expenditure in these two areas is fairly restricted and the main finance request is for working capital purposes rather than new equipment.'' According to the latest Westpac and Charles Sturt University Ag- ribusiness Index survey, invest- ment pre-June 30 related to the Federal Government stimulus package, Mr Coughlan said. New robotic dairies were a major investment for some far- mers, he said. ''Properties are still being pretty tightly held, there's not a lot of farms changing hands,'' he said. ''But a lot of the smaller farms are proving unviable, so they will be swallowed up.'' McCain pulling back to only potatoes, growers wanting price increases and buyers wanting a price decrease did not help growers, Mr Coughlan said. ''It's a pretty tough time -- there's uncertainty around Simplot and imported products are impacted on local growers,'' he said. Growers are looking to diversify into cereal or seed cropping and attainment of skilled labour is an issue for them, Mr Coughlan said, adding forest contractors were struggling on reduced contracts of up to 50 per cent of what they were. There has been very little capi- tal expenditure in the south other than expenditure planned for irri- gation especially in the Southern Midlands, Mr Coughlan said. ''Southern farmers are still re- covering from the drought,'' he said. ''They have reduced their stock holdings, they've still got high debt levels and increasing interest rates are having an impact.'' Working capital spending was up in every state, with the strongest rises reported in Tas- mania, Victoria and South Aust- ralia. Eight out of every 10 agribusin- esses surveyed in Tasmania had been operating for more than 10 years and a further 11 per cent have been operating for between 6 and 10 years. Only 3 per cent of Tasmanian agribusinesses have been operat- ing for two years or less. One hundred per cent of agribu- siness enterprises that started in Tasmania in the past two years took over an existing business. ''There is a place for new en- trants and new services but there are also succession planning op- tions,'' Mr Coughlan said. The positive result needed to be looked at in light of challenges the industry has faced in the past 10 years, Mr Coughlan said. ''The longevity and resilience of Tasmanian agribusinesses is phenomenal,'' he said. ''These businesses have faced drought, changing international demands and a volatile currency. ''They have invested in capital improvements to remain in busi- ness for many years to come.'' EAR WE GO THEN: Students, from left, Shannon Nicolle, Maddison Febey, Chelsea Rayner and Bradley Duck show off the new Landfall tag at the Sheffield School farm. Picture: Picture:CHRIS KIDD Students hooked on show season KAROLIN MacGREGOR SHOW season is just around the corner, so that means students at Shef- field School are once again gearing up for their annu- al hoof and hook compe- tition. More than $4000 in cash and prizes will be on offer at the hoof and hook com- petition, which will be held at the school show on November 5. Agriculture teacher Si- mon Barber said the school was hoping for a good number of entries in the competition this year after 33 cattle were en- tered in last year's show. The competition will once again be divided into three sections --- light- weight, middleweight and heavyweight. Cattle entered in the hoof and hook compe- tition are judged on the hoof during the show program while being led by participating students. The cattle are then pro- cessed at Swift Australia's Devonport abattoir and are judged on the hook. The carcasses are then marketed to local butchers and supermar- kets through Roberts. Mr Barber said anyone who wanted to enter cattle in the competition but was not sure about handling the breaking-in process could be given some help by students. ''We've always got kids who are keen to help out with breaking-in, so that's not a problem,'' he said. ''If they're local the kids can go out to people's places if they've got good facilities, or they can even just drop the cattle off during breaking-in week and let the kids do the work.'' Mr Barber said there were also some students who had a couple of hec- tares at home who had bought cattle specifically to prepare for the competition. The school will have a team of eight cattle to enter in this year's hoof and hook competition. Two of the cattle have been do- nated by the Archer family from Landfall Angus. Mr Barber said a group of Year 9 and Year 10 agriculture students re- cently visited the stud and picked out the steers with the help of Frank Archer, who provided them with estimated breeding value figures of the cattle to help them make a final choice. Long-time supporters of the show, the Shoobridge family from Ouse prop- erty Cleveland, have also donated a steer for this year's team. The other cattle in the team this year include three steers bought from the Powranna sale by the school, and a steer and a heifer bred at the school. Breaking in of this year's team is already un- der way and Mr Barber said the cattle were also started on their compe- tition diet this week. For the next 100 days or so, the cattle will be fed pellets as well as unlimi- ted hay and strip-fed pas- ture. Mr Barber said there was still plenty of time for anyone who was interest- ed in entering the compe- tition to prepare their cattle. The traditional break- ing-in week will also be a busy time for the Sheffield students this year. Breaking-in week kicks off on September 20. Entries for the hoof and hook competition close on October 15. 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August 5th 2010