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TAS Country : February 10th 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011 Tasmanian Country 9 institute takes on international flavour TOP JOB: Holger Meinke is keen to find out the public's idea of TIAR's role. Picture: Jennifer Crawley JENNIFER CRAWLEY HOLGER Meinke is quickly settling in to his new role as director of the Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research. Born in Germany, Professor Meinke spent 20 years in Toowoomba as a principal scientist for the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries. He said he became an Australian citizen in 1989, as soon as he was eligible. ''It's the only passport I have,'' he said. ''If you want to be part of society it's important, it gives you the right to be critical, it gives you the right to vote.'' Prof Meinke is no stranger to Tasmania. He has visited many times to research dryland cropping and climate risk management in agriculture. Prof Meinke has only been in the job a short while and said he was slowly catching up with the history of TIAR. He said he had no preconceived ideas about the institute. ''I need to know the basics, but I feel no way tied or a connection to any of the past,'' Prof Meinke said. ''It is a new start for me and for everyone, the organisation, the State Government and the university.'' He said he had been talking to as many people as he could, including the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, to find out the community's expectations of TIAR. ''We have to deliver,'' Prof Meinke said. ''We have to reassure the State Government and the university that we are responsible and we will deliver.'' Prof Meinke will head TIAR and the School of Agriculture and will have more than 100 staff and two departments to manage. He said the future of research was changing, with more emphasis on partnerships and less on Government funding. ''There are four reasons for TIAR's existence: research, teaching, extension and development,'' Prof Meinke said. ''We will be proactive tapping in more effectively to business and engaging with stakeholders. ''We want outcomes to be visible, we want the Minister to be able to drill down to find out exactly what we have done. We want our research outcomes to be easily accessible.'' He said TIAR and the School of Agriculture staff belonged to both organisations, the only difference being that the school was responsible for undergraduate students. Prof Meinke said the biggest hurdle currently facing the agricultural community was ''an incredible skills shortage''. ''The industry is crying out for well- qualified graduates, and we can't deliver them,'' he said. ''It's a huge task to convince young Tasmanians of the fantastic opportunities that can open up for them in agriculture.'' Prof Meinke is keen to maintain his scientific interests in agriculture and climate systems. ''I want to drag the climate scientist into the dirty world of agriculture and teach the agronomists to appreciate how the sea surface temperature off South America affects their crops,'' he said. TIAR has been rated at or above world standard in several research fields in the recently announced Commonwealth Excellence in Research for Australia ratings. The ERA results mark the first time that Australia's research efforts have been systematically compared with the rest of the world. The scorecard, issued by the Australian Research Council, rates the University of Tasmania's horticultural production research output as well above world standard, the animal production research was rated above world standard, and the crop and pasture production work was rated at world standard. Egyptian unrest stirs trade fears VITAL LINK: The Suez Canal is critical. EGYPT'S deteriorating political situation has cau- sed the closure of its ports to all traffic. And while Australia has no live shipments to Egypt scheduled until next month, the viability of the Suez Canal remains criti- cal to the wider trade. Meat and Livestock Australia's Middle East and North Africa regional manager Lachlan Bowtell said the situation was becoming increasingly chaotic. Mr Bowtell, who is based in the region, said while he did not expect the current situation to have any long- term effects on demand for Australian beef and sheepmeat, there would be some immediate problems. ''Shipping is the hardest hit area, with nothing go- ing in or out,'' he said. ''In Egypt and Jordan demand for beef alone in the past year has risen 293 per cent. ''With Brazil dropping out of this market because of its growing domestic demand and trade into eastern Europe, Aust- ralian beef has filled the gap. ''That was all coming in by ship, so there will be some hiccups. ''Lamb for the region is also up 25 per cent, and has now overtaken the US as the premier export desti- nation for Australian lamb.'' Wellard Exports manag- ing director Steve Meerwald said his com- pany's only shipment from Australia this month was headed for South America. He also said things had worsened in Egypt just when it looked like a quick solution might be found. ''Once this immediate crisis is resolved there may still be instability be- yond that, but until this is ended we won't know what will happen next,'' Mr Meerwald said. As Australia's major live export business, he said the Suez Canal was a vital link to markets such as Turkey and Russia, as well as Libya and Lebanon. ''Egypt also needs to im- port food, as do Tunisia and Syria, where wide- scale protests are also go- ing on,'' Mr Meerwald said. The Weekly Times US slams Aussie mulesing stance AMERICAN apparel re- tailers have slammed the Australian wool industry's inability to develop a strat- egy to end mulesing. In a letter to Australian Wool Innovation chief executive Stuart McCul- lough, the US National Retail Federation criti- cised AWI for its decision to withdraw from the draft- ing of a response on mules- ing. In June last year, NRF vice-president Eric Autor asked for a united response from Australia on the phasing out of mulesing by 2013. After six months of discussions and four drafts, AWI withdrew from the negotiations. Unconfirmed reports in- dicate AWI and the Aust- ralian Wool Growers As- sociation wanted references to mulesing re- moved from the final re- sponse. ''While we recognise that bringing together the interests of 19 distinct stakeholders would be a challenge, we were assured on a number of occasions that an agreement and re- sponse were imminent,'' Mr Autor said. ''We recognise that AWI has played a key leader- ship role in bringing this coalition together. ''As the face of Australian wool around the world, and a key industry voice in Australia, AWI's with- drawal now calls into ques- tion whether the industry is capable of providing any kind of response, and rep- resents, in our view, a considerable setback to any potential progress that could have been made.'' This week, Mr McCul- lough declined to comment on the NRF letter. ''AWI's role is to pursue research to develop viable flystrike prevention alternatives,'' he said. ''In doing so, AWI is governed by research mile- stones rather than arbi- trary deadlines to assist growers deliver the best welfare for their animals.'' The Weekly Times Wool prices climb to a 23-year high Shipping deadlines drive demand WOOL prices have climbed to a 23-year high. Last week AWEX East- ern Market Indicator clo- sed the week up 60 cents or another 5 per cent to 1255c/kg clean. In nominal terms, the indicator is only 4c/kg short of the national mar- ket indicator of 1259c/kg recorded in April 1988 at the peak of the reserve floor price. Although AWEX market analyst Lionel Plunket says it's difficult to com- pare today's indicator with that of 1988, because the present indicator includes a higher proportion of fine to superfine wool types in its indicator ''basket''. But in the post-reserve price era most categories are at record levels. The exceptions are the superfines, which are still below the June 2001 peaks, while crossbred types 26-30 indicators are below the October 2002 peak. That was when demand from China for broader micron knitting wools pu- shed the southern 28-micron indicator, albeit fleetingly, to 880c/kg clean. Last week, the 28 micron indicator held firm at 583c/kg clean. Exporters report that much of last week's de- mand was driven by an urgency to meet February shipping deadlines. Prices were also helped by a smaller national offer- ing of 43,508 bales or 10,000 less than the previous week. As a result, most sales were on indent for immedi- ate delivery rather than being ''bought in stock'', which many Australian traders have been doing in recent weeks with highly profitable outcomes. Weekly Times ATTENTION GROWERS & PRODUCERS DUE TO INCREASED DEMAND WE REQUIRE MORE LOCAL FRESH PRODUCE. Large or small quantities Call Trudy at ISLAND MARKETS between 10-2pm Wed to Sun 6273 7918 2061849-110108 LARGE CLEARSPAN SUITED WITH MANY USES 18mx36mx6m (60' x 120' x 20') $ reduced again HIGH QUALITY BUILDINGS WITH HEAPS OF OPTIONS 15m x 22.5m x 4.2m (50'x 75' x 14') $ reduced again 1300 553 779 www.nowbuildings.com.au wholesale division
February 3rd 2011
February 17th 2011