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Northern Rivers & Rural News

HENDRA VIRUS CONFIRMED IN FLYING FOXES IN BROAD REGION OF AUSTRALIA

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HENDRA VIRUS CAN BE TRANSMITTED FROM FLYING FOXES TO HORSES AND FROM HORSES TO PEOPLE.

HENDRA VIRUS CONFIRMED IN FLYING FOXES IN BROAD REGION OF AUSTRALIA

Scientists at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, have uncovered a new type of Hendra virus in flying foxes, confirming the virus can be found across a broad region of the country.

A paper detailing the findings has been published just days after the new genetic type (HeV-g2) was detected in a horse near Newcastle in New South Wales, the most southern case of Hendra yet recorded.

Hendra virus can be transmitted from flying foxes to horses, and from horses to people. Previous studies had found the virus in flying foxes in Queensland and parts of New South Wales. After monitoring flying fox samples from 2013-2021, researchers at CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) found the new genetic type in flying foxes in Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia.

ACDP is a World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reference laboratory for Hendra and Nipah virus diseases. Reference expert and CSIRO scientist Dr Kim Halpin said spillover of the disease from flying foxes to horses has still only been reported in Queensland and New South Wales.

“However, because Hendra Virus Genotype 2 is so genetically similar to the original Hendra virus, there is a potential risk to horses wherever flying foxes are found in Australia,” Dr Halpin said.

“It’s important to note that Hendra has never been reported to spread directly from flying foxes to humans – it’s always been transmitted from infected horses to humans. We expect this new genetic type would behave the same way.

“And given the similarities, while more research is needed, we expect the existing Hendra virus vaccine for horses should work against this new type too.

“This finding really underscores the importance of research into flying foxes – it’s crucial to helping us understand and protect Australians against the viruses they can carry.”

Another project, called “Horses as Sentinels”, led by the University of Sydney and CSIRO and funded by a Biosecurity Innovation Program grant from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, detected the same genetic type earlier this year in samples collected from a horse from Queensland in 2015. Results of this research are available in preprint. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.07.16.452724v3

Dr Steve Dennis, President of Equine Veterinarians Australia, said the findings are a reminder there’s a risk of Hendra virus wherever there are flying foxes and horses.

“Owners and any people who interact with horses can reduce the risk of infection from Hendra virus and other zoonotic viruses through vaccination of horses or humans where available, wearing appropriate PPE, and seeking veterinary attention for sick horses,” Dr Dennis said.

CSIRO and the “Horses as Sentinels” project team have been working closely with vets and laboratories around Australia to implement improved tests for horses with signs of Hendra virus disease.

More information for horse owners is available at: https://www.outbreak.gov.au/for-vets-and-scientists/hendra-virus

Peer-reviewed results of CSIRO’s flying fox study have just been published in Virology Journal.

More about the study:
• Previous studies suggested the black and the spectacled flying foxes were the primary carriers of Hendra virus. This study found the new genetic type of Hendra in grey-headed flying foxes in Victoria and South Australia, and in the little red flying fox in Western Australia, confirming the virus can be found in four species of flying fox and in a broad geographic range of Australia.
• The new genetic type was first detected in a flying fox sample from 2013, but with technology available at the time the researchers could not fully analyse its genome sequence to confirm its identity and understand its significance.
• By piecing together the new virus’ genome from several flying fox samples since then using the latest technology, they discovered it was indeed a new type of Hendra virus.
• Ninety-eight flying foxes tested negative to the original Hendra virus, but 11 were found to carry genetic material indicative of HeV-g2.
• Flying fox research is crucial to our understanding of the viruses they can carry, the factors that might lead to transmission, and steps we can take to minimise those risks.

Notes about horses and flying foxes
• To date, all human cases of Hendra virus infection have resulted from direct contact with infected horses. Direct transmission of Hendra virus from flying foxes to humans has not been observed.
• This finding is a reminder of measures that horse owners and people who work closely with horses can put in place to reduce the risk of infection from Hendra virus and other henipaviruses. This includes vaccination, wearing appropriate PPE, and seeking veterinary attention for sick horses.
• Flying foxes should only be handled by people who are appropriately vaccinated, trained, and wearing personal protective equipment. Injured or sick flying foxes should be reported to a wildlife care organisation or local veterinarian.
• Flying foxes are protected animals, with two species on our nationally vulnerable list. They are critical to our environment because they pollinate our native trees and plants and also spread their seeds.
• Without flying foxes, we wouldn’t have our eucalypt forests, rainforests and melaleucas.
• Biosecurity measures will help to minimise the risk of disease transmission, while protecting these important species and their role in maintaining a healthy environment.

Northern Rivers & Rural News

NEW HARVEST STRATEGY SECURES THE FUTURE OF FISHERIES IN NSW

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FUTURE OF FISHERIES IN NSW

NEW HARVEST STRATEGY SECURES THE FUTURE OF FISHERIES IN NSW

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall today announced the NSW Government has finalised the NSW Harvest Strategy Policy that will secure the future of NSW fisheries.
The Harvest Strategy Policy will underpin the consistent and harmonised development of tailored harvest strategies for key NSW fisheries and is being released in tandem with the Harvest Strategy Guidelines. The Guidelines set out practical steps for implementation and monitoring of harvest strategies by fisheries managers, scientists, and stakeholders.
Mr Marshall said that both documents will support harvest strategy development across the full range of NSW fisheries, from single species to multi species, both large and small-scale fisheries, as well as fisheries ranging from low to high levels of available data.
“Harvest strategies give all stakeholders, including fishers, the government and the community, certainty about how our fisheries will be managed and provide transparency in decision making,” Mr Marshall said.
“The Policy and associated Guidelines were developed, reviewed and endorsed by the Commercial Fishing NSW Advisory Council (CommFish), Recreational Fishing NSW Advisory Council (RFNSW), Aboriginal Fishing Advisory Council (AFAC) and the Ministerial Fisheries Advisory Council (MFAC).
“We started on this journey 12 months ago with the Trawl Whiting fishery. Since then, we have established three more Harvest Strategy Working Groups for Eastern Rock Lobster, Mulloway and Spanner Crab.
“Each working group is comprised of an independent chair, independent scientist and independent economist, along with representatives from the commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fishing sectors, as well as the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI).”
During public exhibition of the Policy in late 2020, submissions were received from recreational and commercial fishing along with academic and conservation interests.
Chair of the NSW Seafood Industry Council (NSWSIC) Bryan Skepper welcomed the announcement.
“The NSWSIC strongly supports the development of harvest strategies that improve
the transparency of decision making associated with the harvest of fisheries resources in this state and are committed to working with DPI in a constructive way to achieve this outcome,” Mr Skepper said.
CEO of the Professional Fisherman’s Association Tricia Beatty stated her full support for these harvest strategies.
“We strongly support the development and implementation of Harvest Strategies for NSW Fisheries because they provide clarity about the overall fishery objectives, fishery performance indicators, triggers for management action and appropriate management responses/decision rules,” Ms Beatty said.
MFAC member Matthew Hansen has declared his full support for the announcement of this Policy, stating that it would also help promote collaboration between recreational and commercial fishers and other key fisheries groups.
“We strongly support the development of harvest strategies and believe this is a big step forward in ensuring that consistent long-term sustainability measures are in place for pressured key species shared between both the commercial and recreational fishing sectors across NSW,” Mr Hansen said.
The Trawl Whiting and Lobster groups have developed draft harvest strategies. The Trawl Whiting harvest strategy is currently open for public consultation and the Rock Lobster strategy will be released for public consultation over the coming months. This work will continue in 2021/22 with other priority species.
For further information, please visit https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing.

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Northern Rivers & Rural News

A golden outlook for a golden year’ Australian Winter Crop Forecast

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2021/22 Australian Winter Crop Forecast

‘A golden outlook for a golden year’ – Rabobank 2021/22 Australian Winter Crop Forecast

Australia is set for a second consecutive bumper winter harvest, with total production forecast to come in just five per cent shy of last year’s near-record crop, according to Rabobank.
In its just-released Australian Winter Crop 2021/22 Production, Price and Inputs Forecast, the specialist agribusiness bank estimates the nation will harvest 52.87 million tonnes of winter grains, oilseeds and pulses this season. While down five per cent on last year’s crop, this is still a hefty 25 per cent above the five-year average.
Canola is the stand-out mover, with production estimated to reach a new record of 5.16 million tonnes (up 14 per cent on last year and a stellar 48 per cent above the five-year average), driven by increased planting and favourable growing conditions in many regions.
Australia’s wheat production is expected to come in at 31.9 million tonnes (down four per cent on last year, but still 35 per cent above the five-year average). Barley production is forecast to be down 10 per cent on last year to 11.7 million tonnes, though also still up on the five-year average (by seven per cent).
Report co-author, Rabobank agriculture analyst Dennis Voznesenski said Australia’s second consecutive very large winter crop “comes at an opportune time for local growers, with global shortages and high prices for grains and oilseeds”.
“Short global supplies of grains and oilseeds will continue to support Australian prices over the year ahead,” he said. “And although global prices can be expected to soften as new crops in different regions around the world come into play, the uncertainty that exists around seasonal conditions in grain-growing areas and the process of global grain stocks re-building will keep prices at least above the range of the last six to seven years.”
The report notes favourable growing conditions in Australia have seen expectations of increased amounts of high-protein wheat in Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia this harvest – “timed perfectly” with a current global shortage of high-protein wheat, due to drought in North America.
Other factors of note for this year’s winter crop include a lower supply of malt-quality barley – due to a reduction in barley planting, and particularly malt varieties – and less grain baled for hay because of export concerns due to a largely-closed Chinese hay market.
“There is also a proportion of last year’s record east coast harvest – 10 to 15 per cent – that remains on farm,” Mr Voznesenski said. “And this will compete with the coming crop for storage space and mean more delivery and price pressure during harvest.”

Exports
Rabobank forecasts Australia’s total grain exports to increase again this year – by five per cent year on year (YOY) and to include 24.5 million tonnes of wheat, 7.8 million tonnes of barley and 4.3 million tonnes of canola.
“A second very large harvest means that Australia’s stocks will now be replenished after the drought so we will be able to lift exports in 2021/22 despite production coming in lower than last year,” Mr Voznesenski said.
“We expect Australia will again be able to deliver a strong export performance into Southeast Asia, with Australian wheat continuing to be the price setter across the region. This is due to lower prices in Australia because of the substantial surplus that will be available, but also favourable freight costs compared with grain from further afield – an advantage that increases in times of high-cost freight like we currently have and expect to continue in 2022.”

States
Rabobank forecasts 2021/22 winter crop production to be up by 18 per cent in both Western Australia and Queensland – off the back of improved rainfall over the growing season in both states.
New South Wales production is expected to be down 14 per cent on last year’s record harvest in the state, but still nearly 70 per cent above the five-year average.
South Australia’s crop is forecast to decline 10 per cent YOY, due to less favourable planting conditions and patchy rainfall, while Victoria is set to record the largest decline in production – down 24 per cent on last year, primarily due to drier conditions in the western part of the state.

Wheat outlook
For wheat, the Rabobank report says, low world stocks will keep global prices at high levels.
Report co-author, Rabobank senior commodities analyst Cheryl Kalisch Gordon says global wheat stocks have fallen, particularly in exporting nations, and are on track to decline materially over the next nine months, exerting upward pressure on Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat prices in the year ahead.
“This has been driven by high usage of wheat in animal feed, substituting for corn, which is in low supply, and due to downgraded wheat quality in the EU relegating it stock feed use,” she said, “while there has also been steady growth in food consumption.”
The bank expects CBOT wheat to trade in the USc725-740/bu range until the second quarter of 2022, when it is forecast to decline as northern hemisphere new crop supply becomes available, but continuing above USc700/bu for the balance of 2022, given the stock rebuilding that will be required.
For local wheat prices, the bank expects to see “price resilience” during the remaining months of 2021, despite “harvest pressure and the favourable harvest volume”, Dr Kalisch Gordon said.
“This is due to the strong demand we expect as the world searches for wheat after the northern hemisphere harvest finishes and with some assistance of further softening of the Australian dollar,” she said. This should especially be the case for higher-protein wheat.
The bank expects the Australian dollar will remain in the low USc70 range, supporting Australian wheat values over the year ahead.

Barley

For Australian barley, while Rabobank does not expect China to return as a market “to a material degree even in the midterm”, the tight global corn market is set to support barley demand over the coming year.
“Prices will be supported as buyers, especially in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, continue to find good value in barley as a substitute for corn in livestock feeding,” Dr Kalisch Gordon said.
Local demand for feed barley is also expected to remain steady, with the number of cattle on feed in Australia remaining above one million head and demand for export beef staying buoyant, along with steadily growing demand from the poultry sector.
“Malt barley demand is also improving, with recovering beer demand globally as the world opens after COVID-19,” she said.
Local barley prices are forecast to appreciate marginally after harvest and in the first half of 2022, before softening at the back end of 2022, however remaining at above average.

Canola
For canola, the report says, record high prices off the back of low global stock levels – due to poor seasons in Canada and the EU – should see expanded production in the northern hemisphere next season.
This will lead to a substantial re-supply in global canola stocks in 2022, however the impacts of the current low global stock situation will be felt over the coming year.
“With the deep hole in global canola stocks and still some re-supply uncertainty, global prices are expected to remain elevated into the second quarter of 2022, before softening, but remaining materially above five-year averages for the balance of next year,” Dr Kalisch Gordon said.
“Locally, we expect the same pattern with Australian canola prices, though with some harvest pressure in quarter four this year, with the forecast record canola harvest that is expected.”

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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Australian dairy at a critical juncture – industry report

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Australian dairy at a critical juncture

Australian dairy at a critical juncture – industry report

The Australian dairy industry is at “a critical juncture”, with recent record-breaking profitability in the sector offering a solid footing to reboot much-needed growth in milk production, according to a new research report.
The report, Australian Dairy Industry: At an Important Juncture, by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says “after a rollercoaster ride” over the past decade, Australia’s dairy sector has experienced a remarkable turnaround, underpinned by favourable seasonal conditions, high farmgate pricing and a shift in the balance of power within the supply chain (with increasing competition for milk supply and the introduction of the Dairy Industry Code of Conduct).
But capitalising on this current strong position to invest in expanding national milk production will be “vital” for the future success of Australia’s dairy industry, the report says, to take advantage of growth opportunities in export markets.
Report author, Rabobank senior dairy analyst Michael Harvey said in recent years the Australian dairy sector had navigated a “perfect storm of widespread drought, isolated bushfires and floods – all coupled with a severe global market and unprecedented industry disruption and instability”.
“This turmoil resulted in a squeeze on the profit pool and a drop in milk solids produced,” he said. “It also zapped farmer confidence, which ultimately heralded a major shift in how the supply chain operates.”

Solid footing
Right now, though, the report says, the dairy industry finds itself on a solid footing, with record-breaking profitability for many. “The southern Australian dairy region is on track for a third consecutive season of outperforming industry benchmarks for average EBIT (earnings before interest and tax). And there has been a lift in confidence levels and investment intentions,” it says.
However, Mr Harvey said, while some recovery in national milk production has been underway, so far, the milk supply response has “underwhelmed initial expectations”, despite the period of farmgate profitability.
“The Australian dairy supply chain processed 8.86 billion litres of milk in 2020/21, 950 million litres less than in 2014/15, with 55 per cent of the fall coming from the northern Victoria irrigation system,” he said.

Milk growth momentum
Mr Harvey said expanding Australia’s national milk supply is “essential to the growth prospects of the Australian dairy industry as it aims to construct sustained growth outside of a maturing domestic market”.
“In contrast to the local market, key dairy export markets have considerable headroom for growth in the coming decade, particularly in emerging Asia,” he said. “This means offshore markets provide plenty of ‘blue sky’ and exports will remain the engine of growth for the sector.”
However, without sufficient milk supply growth, the Australian sector will face challenges penetrating growth markets offshore, the report says.
“A vibrant industry requires a strong presence in growing export markets and being able to fully leverage existing access to Asian supply chains,” Mr Harvey said. “Australian dairy has some strong global market credentials, but a lack of a sustained growing milk pool is a weakness to overcome.
“Even with the mature domestic market, demand from key customers is outstripping supply growth, and many customers in the industry will require more volume over the next decade.”

‘Missed’ opportunity
The report says with the Australian dairy supply chain short of milk solids and the foundations in place for a period of investment “on farm and for milk production growth”, the stage is set for the industry to take advantage.
“If this strong run of healthy farm profitability, elevated investment ambition and positive investment outlook does not result in some well-executed long-term investments, it will be a missed opportunity for the industry in reigniting growth,” Mr Harvey said.
“And to fully unlock growth, significant long-term capital investment is required to increase efficiency and production capacity.”

Profitable investment
The Rabobank report says Australia’s dairy sector is expected to provide profitable capital investment opportunities for farm businesses over the next decade.
“While a transformational lift in profitability is not expected, there is a compelling case that the industry may outperform the previous decade in terms of EBIT performance,” Mr Harvey said.
The report notes investing for long-term growth will not be the right strategy for every dairy farm business.
“While a growing industry is vital for the wider sector, the reality is that farm businesses should only invest in growth if there is a profitable and sufficient return based on any planned investment strategy. And for enterprises willing to invest, a well-structured plan and consideration of capital at risk is required,” he said.

Changing supply chain

A close watch also needs to be kept on the changing dairy supply chain, with further shifts, consolidation and rationalisation expected in the coming decade.
“This constant supply chain evolution – which includes a variety of dairy company business models with very different product mixes, manufacturing footprints and growth priorities – provides increased options for dairy producers and presents risks and opportunities for farm businesses,” Mr Harvey said.
The Rabobank report says a focus on reducing environmental impacts throughout the dairy supply chain will also remain a consistent theme over the coming decade.
“There is a goal to reduce emissions intensity by 30 per cent from 2015 levels by 2030, with more ambitious targets also being considered,” Mr Harvey said.
“It is important to take a long-term view on the opportunities that will come with these investments, including productivity and efficiency gains, carbon sequestration incentives, and potential access to high-margin and/or high-growth markets.”

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