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TAS Country : July 21st 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011 Tasmanian Country 13 News Confidence riding high 'On the back of rising sheep, wool, beef and dairy prices many farmers have had the best growing season for years' ---JAN DAVIS POSITIVE SIGNS: Farmers are optimistic that their business performance will be maintained or improved. Picture: CHRIS KIDD IF you need proof of the resilience of Tasmanian farmers, look no further than an index of confidence in the rural community, says Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief executive Jan Davis. While the latest Commsec survey showed the general population of Tasmania pessimistic about the economic outlook, and while retail sales are weak, Rabobank paints a completely different picture of our farmers, Ms Davis said. Driven by strong commodity prices, Tasmanian farmer confi- dence has improved for the second successive quarter, according to the Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey. It has found 89 per cent of primary producers in Tasmania expect the agricultural economy to improve or stay the same over the next year, up from 73 per cent recorded in the previous quarter. Ms Davis said it demonstrated farmers' extraordinary ability to bounce back quickly from adversity in the shape of drought, then flood, lost crops and uneconomic prices. ''On the back of rising sheep, wool, beef and dairy prices many farmers have had the best growing season for years,'' she said. ''Most farmers are optimistic that their business performance will be maintained or improved in the coming 12 months. ''Agriculture is responsible for one in 10 jobs in Tasmania. When all about you appears forlorn, look to the land for inspiration,'' she said. Rabobank regional manager for Tasmania Greg Bott said the im- provement in Tasmanian rural con- fidence this quarter was mainly driven by farms with livestock. ''Graziers were the least nega- tively impacted by the floods earlier in the year, so conditions could be described as optimal for farms with livestock,'' he said. The positive sentiment recorded this quarter was unlikely however to be shared by croppers. ''The flooding in January and March severely impacted croppers in the North West and North East. Some potato farmers have lost large areas of crop and other vegetables, and poppies and cereals have been badly affected. The mood on the ground is pretty bleak among the farmers worst hit.'' Healthy calf guide free to farmers DAIRY Australia and Australian Dairy Farmers have just published a prac- tical guide to raising calves that thrive. The guide, Rearing Healthy Calves outlines how to produce strong healthy calves that are residue-free. It covers pre-calving care, colostrum manage- ment, nutrition and wean- ing management . It also outlines the new Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines that apply to the transport of calves. The guide is free to all Dairy Australia levy payers, dairy industry ad- visors and educators. Or- ders can be made on the Dairy Australia website. SPECIAL SPUDS: Justin Shephard uses a palm computer to map fields. Hi-tech paddock maps KAROLIN MacGREGOR A WILLINGNESS to adopt new tech- nology has earned Justin Shephard the 2011 Rabobank Simplot Young Potato Grower of the Year award. Mr Shephard farms at Stowport with his wife Catherine. He was presented with the award at an official grower dinner in Ulverstone late last week. The couple run a diverse farming operation that includes a variety of crops including poppies, carrots, onions, py- rethrum and wheat. They also run about 200 beef cattle. Potatoes are a vital part of their business and the Shephards grow three processing varieties, JR2, Russett Burbank and Ranger Russetts. Mr Shephard said he was shocked, but pleased to win the young grower award. ''Its nice to get a bit of recognition from the industry as we've put a lot of work into our enterprise,'' he said. Technology plays a vital role in the Shephards' farming business. They recently implemented a detailed mapping and budget program to keep track of all aspects of the operation. The system includes using a palm computer combined with GPS reader to map all the paddocks for record-keeping. The aim of the system is to improve crop management and monitor costs and gross margins for each part of the enterprise. The Shephards have also been involved with a quality-assurance program for a number of years. Mr Shephard has also made significant contribution to the industry off the farm. In 2010 he made a three-week study tour in England and also spent eight years on the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association Simplot potato growers com- mittee. As part of the young grower award, Mr Shephard will undertake a Rabobank farm managers program. This course is designed to improve participants' operational and strategic business-management skills. ''I'm looking forward to the business program and learning something different and something new to bring back to the business,'' he said. Rabobank rural manager for Devonport Chris Russell said Mr Shephard thorough- ly deserved to win the award. ''Justin's motivation and interest to be involved in local committees and his enthusiasm for what he does proves his passion and leadership in this industry,'' he said. The dinner was attended by about 200 growers and industry representatives/ Do you need information on aged care? AG48146 From 1 July 2011, a new national phone number will help Australians find information about aged care. So whether you care for someone and need support, or you're just not sure where to start looking, call: 1800 200 422* or visit www.agedcareaustralia.gov.au *Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres (1800 052 222 and 1800 059 059) will continue to operate, and will be diverted to the new number.
July 14th 2011
July 28th 2011