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NEW $30 MILLION FUND TO ACTIVATE TOURISM IN REGIONAL NSW

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New $30m fund to activate tourism in regional NSW
Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh at today’s announcement at Forest Sky Pier with Bularri Muurlay Nyanggan executive officer Clark Webb, Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight and Deputy Premier John Barilaro

NEW $30 MILLION FUND TO ACTIVATE TOURISM IN REGIONAL NSW

Big ticket tourism attractions that will put regional towns on the map and improve accessibility for people with disability are set to receive a significant funding boost, thanks to the NSW Government.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh were in Coffs Harbour today to announce the new $30 million Regional Tourism Activation Fund which will deliver new or upgraded tourism infrastructure as well as improve accessibility and inclusion for people with disability.

“This brand new fund will support the construction of new iconic visitor experiences, such as cliff-top walks or unique event spaces, boosting the profile of regional NSW towns and giving people even more reasons to take a holiday in the regions,” Mr Barilaro said.

“We are also supporting accessibility and inclusion improvements by funding upgrades such as a lift in a multi-level venue and clear access pathways to give more people with disability the opportunity to experience what our regions have to offer.”

Mr Perrottet said supporting tourism also supports local jobs and expands local economies, creating beneficial flow-on effects for traders and creates new opportunities for investment.

“With few overseas travel options available, the NSW Government is strengthening tourism in regional NSW. This funding will ensure the industry prospers and continues to play an important role in our economy,” Mr Perrottet said.

Mr Singh welcomed the funding announcement which happened today at the Coffs Harbour Forest Sky Pier, saying the funding will bring even more visitors to regional NSW each year.

“Coffs Harbour recently held the Sharks VS Titans NRL match and next week the Super W Rugby tournament starts, putting the North Coast on the map, not only as a place to host word class events, but as a place to come enjoy your holidays,” Mr Singh said.

Under Stream One, grants between $200,000 and $5 million are available for projects delivering unique and high impact visitor experiences, while Stream Two provides grants between $50,000 to $500,000 for projects that will improve the accessibility and inclusion of tourism experiences for people with disability.

The $30 million Regional Tourism Activation Fund is part of the $2 billion Regional Growth Fund. Applications open 16 June and close on 11 August 2021. For more information, go to:www.nsw.gov.au/RTAFund.

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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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Rabobank launches Australia-first rural community fund

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Rabobank launches Australia-first rural community fund

Agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank has launched a fund to invest in the sustainability and vitality of rural communities in Australia.

The first of its type in Australia, the Rabo Community Fund is based on the international Rabo Foundation, the global agricultural banking cooperative’s social fund, which has operated for more than 45 years investing in farmers’ self-sufficiency in a range of countries around the world.

Funded by an annual contribution from Rabobank Australia & New Zealand, the Rabo Community Fund has launched with an initial $2 million, which is being invested in a range of initiatives to benefit rural and regional communities around Australia and New Zealand identified by the bank’s local Client Councils.

The Client Councils are groups of Rabobank’s farming client representatives, who work with the bank to address industry and community challenges in farming and agribusiness, which are linked to five key themes:

  • long-term industry capacity
  • environmental sustainability
  • rural/urban divide
  • rural health and
    adaptation/disruption.

The Rabo Community Fund will invest in initiatives under these themes and may also be used to support rural communities in the event of natural disasters. The first initiatives to be funded include:

Financial Skills Workshops – a practical hands-on program to build the financial capacity of the next generation of producers and farmers, which aims to reach 5000 participants by 2025.
Are You Bogged Mate? – a ‘down to earth’ approach to raising awareness and starting conversations around rural men’s mental health and suicide, founded by Mary O’Brien.
Rabo Tertiary Pathways – a scholarship program to support undergraduate students at select tertiary institutions to further their research and interest in topics critical to the ongoing success of the agribusiness sector.

Rabobank’s head of sustainability and community engagement Marc Oostdijk said the new fund demonstrated Rabobank’s commitment – as a major banker to Australia’s food and agricultural sector – to a thriving and sustainable rural sector.

“As one of the world’s largest cooperative banks, it’s in our DNA to support rural communities and we believe there’s no better way to achieve this than by giving our clients a voice as the representatives of those local communities,” he said.

“What is really unique about the Rabo Community Fund is that we are putting the power into the hands of the local Client Council members to advise us on what initiatives should be funded to address the challenges and opportunities in their communities.”

Mr Oostdijk said the fund will work in a cooperative model where Client Councils will identify and implement the initiatives being funded, while a five-person committee formed of Rabobank staff will oversee the performance and activities of the fund.

“This fund is not intended as a grants program, but is there to address the wider challenges in agriculture at a local level, such as building industry capacity, addressing labour and skills shortages and helping rural communities transition to the future of farming.”

Dairy farmer and chair of the Riverina & Northern Victorian Client Council, Monique Bryant said the major injection of funding would help to create more resilient rural communities.

“This new fund will really increase the size and scale of projects implemented by the Client Councils, which will have a significant impact on rural communities,” Ms Bryant said.

“What it does at a local level is help give people confidence that there is a future in agriculture in their local area, and if people feel good about themselves and confident about their future prospects, then they are more likely to stay in the local area, seek local employment and invest in local economies.”

Rabobank’s Client Council network operates across Australia and New Zealand. There are seven Client Councils in Australia and four in New Zealand with each consisting of between eight to 12 Rabobank farming clients.

For more information: https://rabobank.com.au/about-rabobank/rabo-community-fund

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