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Powerful in Pink Monster Hire welcoms new pink machine in support of all-female workshop



WELCOME THE first edition of Western Downs Farmer for 2020 is coming in on a more positive note for many. Rainfall numbers for the last three months are looking better than many areas received through the whole of 2019. Unfortunately, not all farmers were able to fully appreciate the wet weather. For some, the move from one extreme weather condition to another has meant damaging floods. But as always, the ag industry is still looking to the future. Innovations from retailers and manufacturers in the sector are supporting this, with better ways to complete necessary tasks being introduced every year. We here at Western Downs Farmer look forward to another 12 months of telling the stories of how our region continues to thrive.

More than $2.9 million is being invested through the second round of Smart Farming Partnerships program.

Picture: File



EDITOR: Shannon Hardy Email: shannon.hardy@dalbyherald.com.au ADVERTISING (CHINCHILLA NEWS) Jodie Williams, Email: jodie.williams@chinchillanews.com.au Kelly Smith, Email: kelly.smith@chinchillanews.com.au ADVERTISING (DALBY HERALD) Rachel Doyle, Email: rachel.doyle@dalbyherald.com.au Jay Boyd, Email: jay.boyd@dalbyherald.com.au GENERAL MANAGER Erika Brayshaw, Email: erika.brayshaw@news.com.au Cover image: Monster Hire, by Aja O’Leary

Investment through Smart Farming

All material published in Western Downs Farmer is subject to copyright provisions. No part of this publication may be reproduced without prior written permission for the publisher. DISCLAIMER: The information contained within Western Downs Farmer is given in good faith and obtained from sources believed to be accurate. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. The Chinchilla News or Dalby Herald will not be liable for any opinion or advice contained herein.

THE Coalition Government is investing more than $2.9 million in new technology to help horticulturalists improve their environmental credentials through the second round of Smart Farming Partnerships program. Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd is being funded to deliver the project ‘Digital remote monitoring to improve horticulture’s environmental performance’ over the next four years. Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the project would help protect fragile ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef, Murray-Darling and

coastal lake systems. “Farmers are the best environmental custodians we have and this will make them better. “New technology is making on-farm environmental work easier and cheaper. “Good environmental stewardship will see farm-gate prices improve by building on Australia’s reputation for producing the world’s best food. “This project has four pilot smart farms in the Great Barrier Reef catchment. “This could help reduce the loss of nutrients and soil into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon, saving money and resources while

improving environmental outcomes. “The industry is watching this project closely for broader national applications. “We want to help agriculture become a $100 billion industry by 2030 and projects like this could be a big step towards that goal.” This part of the $57.5 million Smart Farming Partnerships program. For more details about Smart Farming Partnerships visit www.agriculture.gov.au/ ag-farm-food/natural-resources/landcare/ national-landcare-program/australiangovernment-investment-in-landcare.

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Made to last a lifetime SHANNON HARDY RECOVERY after fire, drought and flooding requires careful planning for those in the agriculture industry to ensure both paddocks and livestock recover well to sustain future growth. After rain, livestock naturally prefer lush and palatable green pick however, it is the dry matter that contains the nutrients they need. It is important to continue to supplement feeding so both the drought affected stock and the paddocks recover simultaneously. Monitoring the quantity and quality of the feed is important to ensure you herd receives balanced nutritional needs and therefore more rapid recovery growth. Modular feed bunkers, like those from Westerham Concrete Products, have proven to help prevent loss and ground wastage of precious feed. For almost 30 years, Westerham concrete Products have been providing quality

concrete feedlot bunkers, water troughs, precast tilt panels, grain barriers, piggery slats, septic tanks, pump out tanks, wheel stops, step treads, house stumps, fence posts and pavers to their clients across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Based in Southbrook, the company began by producing products for the founding owner’s farm. They know, through their own farming experience and from their experience of their valued customers, what is required to make the most of Australia’s tough conditions. They love to hear about their client’s new ideas. The Westerham are always looking to innovate and design new products to better the agriculture sector, embracing new challenges and construction projects. Their skilled construction team can provide site solutions to fit your specific needs. From concrete shed slabs, tilt panels and all manner of civil works to silo construction, erection and sealing. If you have the plans, they can build it.

Westerham Concrete products are tried and tested

Pictures: Contributed


Long Troughs from $595 + GST Round Troughs from $490 + GST Grain Barriers from $1050 + GST Feedlot and Piggery Products

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Dalby Rural Supplies wins National CRT Community Member of the Year Award CONTRIBUTED

CRT member Dalby Rural Supplies took out the National Community Member of the Year Award at the CRT National Conference.

told his personal story about the challenges of farming and how it can lead to mental health and wellbeing issues. Warren’s trip to Dalby also included a stop at the local school where he spoke to students. This initiative came from

Director, Andrew Johnston from Dalby Rural Supplies. “It was a great event and we really hoped Warren’s message about mental health resonated with everyone in the room,” Mr Johnson said. Mr Johnson said he and fellow Director, John Cullen

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honour.” CRT General Manager Greg O’Neil praised the culture of Dalby Rural Supplies for the work they have done in the community and said they fully deserved to win this award. “The culture of the business

has made them not only successful, but a valued member of their community, working alongside their customers in all their endeavours. Such high levels of community engagement are exactly what it means to be a CRT member.”

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were extremely grateful for their staff and customers and were proud to have won this award. “CRT put a lot of emphasis on supporting local communities, so to have won this award on behalf of our staff and customers is a huge

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CRT member Dalby Rural Supplies has taken out the National Community Member of the Year Award, announced at the CRT National Conference in Brisbane on Saturday February 8. The annual awards held extra weight this year as CRT, one of Australia’s leading rural merchandise retailers, celebrates 50 years of operation. CRT recognises the important role of its member stores in supporting their local communities, whether it’s through supporting rural fire services, local ambulance volunteers, meals on wheels, schools, hospitals, Men’s Shed and charity organisations. In August last year, Dalby, like most of regional Queensland was suffering through one of its worst droughts in recent years, affecting the town and nearby regions. In response, Dalby Rural Supplies hosted “Give a Farmer a Break”, a special event which drew over 250 growers. Key speakers discussed a range of topics, including succession planning, the impacts of glyphosate resistance, anti-agriculture activism and other challenges currently facing farmers on the Darling Downs. Warren Davies – The Unbreakable Farmer – also

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Delmick the one-stop shop SHANNON HARDY WITH decades of experience in the construction industry, Lee and Glen Carmichael are excited to bring their knowledge together under a new banner. Delmick is your one-stop shop for all your steel, delta panels and Dincel needs. Lee, Glen and their team have been helping customers with their long-term knowledge of the local area and finding new ways to handle projects. Delmick can take a bulk order and have it ready for pick up or delivery at their Dalby depot within a couple of business days, ready to be used all across the Western Downs and Maranoa regions. Not keeping excess stock on hand and ordering precisely what their customers need is one of the ways Lee and Glen strive to keep their prices as affordable as possible. Also, Delmick stocks some aluminium sheeting and section, sheet plate steel of all gauges and a plasma cutter for

those special bits and pieces that are one of a kind designs, galvanised mesh and fencing products, checker plate and the list goes on. Delmick are also agents for Coregas. Galvanised stair stingers and adjustable stumps etc from the Level Master range are also available. In our factory we can also design and construct any type of structure from a cubby house to massive commercial complexes and sheds. Delta Panels are also one of our pet products. This is sandwich panels for roofing, walls, anything your imagination can dream up. This is a product of the future made locally in Brisbane to strict standards. We even have a fully fire rated product for use in any type of construction. And just now we have taken on the Dincel preformed PVC formwork for concrete. Dincel is a super easy product to set up. Most farmers would be able to use this product themselves. Dincel is ideal for piggeries, retaining walls, headwalls, troughs feeders and the list goes on. It is 100 per cent


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A bright splash of colour FAMILY-OWNED earthmoving hire company, Monster Hire, has welcomed to its fleet a new and impressive posi track. This new model TR320 boasts a hot pink paint job in support of their all-female staffed workshop. The new posi track is similar to others at Monster with an increased capacity loader-style bucket, rear rippers and both high-flow and high-pressure functionality for all attachments. Now while the industry jargon may not be understood by all, one thing is clear, this machine is sure to be noticed! Monster Hire, servicing the Western Downs and surrounding areas for the last decade with hire equipment and attachments is doing their part to raise awareness and demonstrate support for women of all ages and backgrounds who are working in the earthmoving, construction and mining sectors.

Kayla Smith, Dianne Kemshead, Chris Pearse from Monster Hire.

The Chinchilla-based company boasts a female dominated workforce with a meticulous approach to their work. Customers receive consistent top quality machines with Monster Hire

committed to following a methodical approach to their preventive schedule; ensuring quicker turnaround of equipment when requested for hire, lower breakdown rates out in the field and cleaner presentation for the operators

Picture: Aja O’Leary

working in traditionally rough or remote conditions. Di Kemshead, Owner and Managing Director, commented that the construction sector can often miss out on attracting and retaining good talent.

“There are a lot of women who can do this sort of work and would enjoy the roles that the industry provides. “We’re all about employing the best person for the job, and our experience to date has been that females can certainly hold their own, get the work done and don’t mind for a second rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty.” This new machine will definitely be one people notice. “By introducing pink into the branding of our business, we’re definitely supporting women in this sector but also having some fun with what we do,” Di said. “The company motto has always been ‘Big Machines, Tough Attachments and Great Service’ and that remains the case; but we’re also immensely proud of what the girls in the workshop have done and continue to achieve.” Di has been working with the team at Business Navigator Western Downs, a pro bono business consultancy

supported by Shell’s QGC business, to accelerate the growth of Monster Hire. Business Navigator Western Downs Business Coach Suzie Wood said, “Di has such passion and commitment to growing her business.” “We are looking forward to building on the strong foundations Di has built through her focus on delivering excellent customer service and planning for future progress for her business.” Di is looking to invite locals to play their part naming the new hot pink machine with a view to add even more individuality and personality to the growing fleet of hire equipment. For the chance to win your choice of a free One Day Hire* or a Monster Hire promo pack, head over to Facebook at www.facebook.com/ MonsterHireChinchilla and submit your entry before 31st March 2020. *Conditions apply

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Bill to imporve legislation

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the new legislation would safeguard Australia’s reputation as a reliable, high-quality source of exports.. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Munoz


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the central pillar of the new agricultural export framework. It will make the legislation easier to use while maintaining our commitment to meeting importing country requirements. “The Bill removes duplication and makes export provisions consistent across commodities where possible. “Commodity specific export rules are currently being drafted to support the Bill, and will be shared with stakeholders as they are developed. “There is still a lot to do before the new export legislation commences early next year and my department is continuing to work closely with exporters and trading partners.”

Brothers Tim & Wayne Collie established the business in 2000. They have built up their business employing local staff, supporting community events and using local businesses. There Head office is in Condamine QLD and now expanding with a new Industrial yard in Roma Qld. From Condamine to Surat to Roma to Wallumbilla, we can meet your earthmoving needs.


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THE passing of the Export Control Bill 2019 will improve the legislative framework and help increase market access for Australian exports. Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said that the new legislation would safeguard Australia’s reputation as a reliable, highquality source of exports. “The government is committed to growing Australia’s agricultural sector and market access through exports,” Minister Littleproud said. “The streamlining of export legislation will support the export of a broader range of great products produced by our farmers. “This new Bill will become



LONG LASTING: ACP concrete posts won’t need to be replaced in your lifetime.

Picture: Contributed


Music to every farmer’s ears ACROSS our region we’ve seen it all this past decade. Drought, fires and floods have caused issues for farmers in many ways, not the least of which is the wear and tear it can cause to fences. Luckily, Australian Concrete Posts is here to help. Their motto of “fence it once, fence it right, never fence it again” should be music to

every farmer’s ears. ACP is the largest manufacturer of prestressed concrete fence posts in Australia. They supply concrete fence posts direct to property owners, farmers, retail stores and fencing contractors. ACP’s directors, Richard Mould and Alan Theron, used their wealth of experience in both farming and construction industries to build the business

and its products to the high standard it is today. A dedicated team of 12 local staff work in the factory in Dungarubba, northern NSW, meaning when you buy ACP, you’re investing in quality Australian business and manufacturing. The factory was purposebuilt to manufacture prestressed concrete posts, which is a similar method and technology used to make extra

strong railway sleepers and bridge girders. The high tensile strands of wire are tensioned when the concrete is poured to give the post strength and durability. The 40 Mpa concrete is made to a special recipe with every batch certified, this ensures a consistent quality and peace of mind for their clients. ACP’s concrete posts are drivable, which can save a lot of time and money when it

comes to the task of fencing. Not to mention their longevity which means they won’t need to be replaced them in your lifetime. The harsh conditions of the Australian environment are no match for these lifetime guaranteed posts – fire, flood, termites, wet and acid sulfate soils, they’ll outlast it all. Customer satisfaction is their biggest priority, Richard and Alan believe the best part

of their business is their clients. “We sell to people of the land who work day-in and day-out to make a go of it in our country’s extreme conditions. They’re hard workers and have a tough time,” Richard said. “Nobody loves fencing, especially farmers. They deserve reliable products, like our posts, that will work just as hard as they do!”

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Joel Sweet, Luke Muller and Laurence Kolling oversee the first CAT OEM custom CAT 745 scraper solution from DOM Distribution for a large earthmoving contractor on the Western Downs.


Always thinking ahead INNOVATION and approaching problems differently are key traits of people and businesses in the agriculture sector. Director of DOM Distribution Pat O’Brien knows the importance of innovation and growth in business. With a company that has a proud 16 year history of providing the most diverse range of new and used machinery, off-road equipment and agri-

cultural supplies locally, domestically and internationally, growth is a given. He believes Dalby is the centre of the world, and DOM’s continued growth, alongside many other businesses with growing export trades, proves that world class products can come from right here in the Western Downs. Despite their current success, Mr O’Brien isn’t ready to stop improving, changing and growing his business yet. This constant look out for

items that are not available to locals has lead DOM Distribution to add another new opportunity to their business. Caterpillar approached the DOM team in early 2019 to become a Cat OEM services provider. “That means we can use any product of Caterpillar’s to build and equip machinery in Dalby,” Mr O’Brien said. “There’s only one other company who has that in Australian and they’re in Tasmania.” Mr O’Brien described it as

> Truck mount, trailer and stationary options > Balanced Flow technology eliminates dead spots > Models up to 44.7m3 capacity > Rental and Hire to Buy Rates

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a welcome shock to have Caterpillar Global approach them to trust their brand to be built and manufactured on in Dalby. “That’s going to take us a number of years to grow that … but it’s a small example that Dalby can be the centre of the world. The new experiences this partnership offers will give DOM’s staff even more opportunity to learn. “It’s satisfying to watch young staff learn and grow and I myself, I enjoy learning

about new ways to do something or bringing new technology to the community,” Mr O’Brien said. “A lot of our larger products that we’ve chosen over the last 15 years are products that aren’t represented elsewhere on the Western Downs; so we’ve selected products or services that, as much as we can, are not represented. “So we get a lot more satisfaction out of doing something original, there’s no enjoyment in doing what someone else is already doing.

“We’re constantly on the lookout for anything that’s not represented or that the local area is requesting and looking for. “You could argue that makes it easier for us when you don’t have to be judged by anyone else but it’s a lot more satisfying when you deal with new products that the region requires, it helps them solve a problem that they have.” Follow DOM Distribution as they continue to add new services to their repertoire in the Western Downs.

Keeping Cows Happy for 70 Years. No bull.





FLASHBACK: Pilot Glen Little captured these photos of the floodwater in Jandowae. He said the water was higher than the 2011 floods.

The Chinchilla Weir on January 12 and then again on February 9.

Pictures: Contributed


Memories are flooding back SHANNON HARDY AFTER a long, dry year where dust storms and an orange haze in the sky became the norm for Western Downs residents, the 2019/2020 summer has brought a drastic change. Many parts of the region received a soaking in the previous summer before the dry set back in, but it really does not compare to the water that has fallen in the past three months. The Bureau of Meteorology stations at Dalby Airport and

Constance Street in Miles recorded total rainfalls from December 2018 to November 2019 of 320.4mm and 299.2mm respectively. The same two station recorded 141mm and 84.4mm last summer. Since the start of summer in December 2019, the Dalby station has recorded 248.2mm and Miles 267.6mm. This leaves Dalby only 72.2mm short of the totals for the previous 12 months and Miles 31.6mm and well above the rainfall totals for last summer.

BREWING: A storm rolling into Dalby along Hustons Road.

The highest rainfall day recorded by BOM for Dalby this summer was 55.8mm on February 9 and 48.2mm on February 12 for Miles. Neither number compares to unofficial reports from around the region. Individuals from around the Western Downs were reporting amazing daily rainfall numbers through some of this summer’s biggest storms. Many farmers took to Facebook to share footage of freshly filled dams and creeks running for the first time in

years. The rain didn’t stop there however with the already water logged land continuing to receive more wet weather, From early to mid February, towns around the Western Downs were experiencing flooding and road closures and creeks and rivers continued to fill. Jandowae Creek peaked on Tuesday night, February 11, flooding the town and surrounding properties. Reports stated that over 100mm had fallen in the catchment on the night of

February 11, following numerous days of rain previously. The masses of water created a stark contrast and large clean up job for the town compared to the dry and dust it had experience like the rest of the Western Downs through 2019. With full waterways and dams, many farms across the region will no doubt have a slightly more hopeful out look than they did this time last year. Now is just a waiting game to see if this wetter trend will continue through the next

months. Autumn has kicked off with scattered showers and a couple of heavier rainfalls for the Western Downs region already. April and May are historically dryer months than March with Dalby’s historical averages being 18.4mm and 37.5mm for the months respectively. Numbers like these, while lower than what has been seen over the summer, are better that last year’s monthly totals of 0.0mm for April and 10.2mm for May.

Picture: Contributed

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Interest rate cut will flow to farmers FARMERS and agricultural businesses struggling with tough conditions are set for rate relief after the Regional Investment Corporation cut interest rates. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said interest rate cuts would deliver considerable savings to its clients. “Rates will drop to 2.11 per cent for Farm Business Loans and to 1.65 per cent for Water Infrastructure Loans from 1 February 2020,” Senator Cormann said. “I’m pleased the RIC is doing the right thing by farm businesses by cutting their rates.

“I commend the RIC for continuing to offer meaningful, rural-focused alternatives for finance particularly during these challenging times.” Minister for Rural Finance David Littleproud said the cut would put thousands of dollars in farmers’ pockets. “A Farm Investment Loan of $2 million would save another $20,000 a year,” Minister Littleproud said. “This will take pressure off rural communities and make it easier to maintain a farm or business. “The RIC is also offering Drought Loans that are up to $2 million, two years interest

and repayment free, and three years interest only. “Farmers should use these loans to make their farm more drought resistant or to refinance. “RIC loans are an important part of our suite of measures to support drought communities. “They complement assistance payments such as the Farm Household Allowance that provides more than $120,000 in payments for farming families. “We are in this for the long-haul and will keep stepping up our response as the drought steps up.”

Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann said the cuts would deliver considerable savings

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Gear for all jobs big, small SHANNON HARDY

LEFT: Tribe's Plant Hire have the machines to get any job done. Picture: Contributed

works, site clearing and preparation, house and shed pads, trenching and post hole boring. “We provide earthmoving services from rural, civil and building construction to the oil and gas sectors,” she said.

“Warren is Miles born and bred with a farming background and has extensive knowledge of the local area such as the different land conditions and soil types. With the extreme weather the Western Downs has

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suit almost any task. If a job requires a machine they don’t have, Warren and Carol can also outsource to ensure the right equipment is available. Their fleet includes tippers, truck and dogs, low loaders, a pressurised water truck with fan and canon sprays, a range of excavators, bobcats with various attachments, a backhoe and a twin vibrating drum roller. Warren and Carol can also supply the materials needed for many of their jobs, making them a great option for your first and only call. Materials available for supply and delivery include sand, gravel, garden mix, loam, rock, roadbase and alternative materials sourced locally upon request, such as crusher dust or white gravel. With a reputation for the best service at the best price, Tribe’s Plant Hire can assist with your project today.


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ESTABLISHED in 2006, Tribe’s Plant Hire is a locally owned and operated earthmoving business run by husband and wife team, Warren and Carol Tribe. Warren has more than 30 years in the earthmoving and transport industry and Carol is always on hand to handle bookings and administration, making the process of booking and completing a job as smooth as possible. Based in Miles, Carol said the business services the surrounding areas of the Western Downs and Surat Basin region. Tribe’s Plant Hire has machinery and qualified staff readily available for all building and residential developments, and provide maintenance and repairs to existing infrastructure. They offer general earthworks, civil works including road construction and maintenance, irrigation

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Easier access to farm allowance

MORE red tape will be slashed for Farm Household Allowance applications with new legislation introduced into Parliament. Minister for Agriculture and Drought David Littleproud said the Government was committed to making sure farmers could access the allowance when they need it. “I don’t want farmers jumping through hoops when it’s not needed,” Minister Littleproud said. “We’ve taken several recommendations from a farmer-led panel to make the FHA applications more straightforward. “These changes are another step in simplifying the Farm Household Allowance. “Business income reconciliation will no longer be necessary in the new financial year. “This will prevent putting farming families in debt if they receive unexpected income. “Case managers will also be able to extend the time farmers have to complete Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud. Picture: Michael Nolan

farm financial assessments so they don’t miss out on support in complex cases. “These changes build on improvements we’ve made over the past 12 months, such as letting couples apply for the FHA in a single online application - telling their story once. “Farmers making a loss can also offset their off-farm income up to $100,000 per couple. “We’ve made FHA available for four out of 10 years, instead of a three-year lifetime limit. “We’ve also made Relief Payments for people finishing their first four years of FHA in recognition of the extended drought and unprecedented natural events.”

Fast Facts • Since 2014 the FHA has paid $398 million to more than 13,300 individuals. • $2 million per week invested in rural communities through the FHA. • Coalition reviewed the Farm Household Allowance in 2018. • Farmer-led panel made recommendations to refocus and simplify the allowance.

Murweh Shire Council Ph: 07 4656 8355

95-101 Alfred Street, CHARLEVILLE Q 4470

www.murweh.qld.gov.au For out of hours emergencies please call 4656 8355 and follow the prompts Entry through the Library no admission charge

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Monday to Friday 9.00am - 1.30pm & 2.30pm - 4.00pm Saturday 9.00am - 12 noon




Industry experts moove the crowd

SHANNON HARDY INDUSTRY leaders from around the Western Downs converged in Dalby on Wednesday, March 4, for Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise’s Protein 2020 conference. Following the success of the 2018 Intensive Ag Conference, TSBE brought together the beef, pork, poultry and dairy sectors for this new event, with the view to share best practice, advocate for common policy change and allow collaboration across the sectors. TSBE Food Leaders Australia General Manager Bruce McConnel said the Western Downs was in a unique position, being one of the fastest growing regional economies in Australia. “We’re doing that though, on a very low population growth, and so as we look to build work forces, as we keep investing in our businesses here, we need people with expertise to allow us to do that,” he said. With that in mind, the conference kicked off. Key factors impacting the agricultural industry were discussed throughout the day by speakers from many different companies and industry groups. Professor Gavin Ash from the University of Southern Queensland discussed the current state and future of water in the Basin and how that affects the animal sector. Industry responses to diseases like African Swine Flu were a hot topic with discussions both in the panel and during break about how different levels of the industry are preparing for the risk it poses to Australian piggeries. Scott Tolmie the market intelligence manager for Meat & Livestock Australia ran through the numbers on a global scale, explaining how market trends, disease outbreaks and new trading deals have affected Australia’s protein export industry. Other great speakers from many different facets of the agricultural industry spoke through out the day, many opening discussions among attendees during the breaks. For many industry representatives, the conference didn’t end on Wednesday.

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FAR LEFT: Bruce McConnel and Ed LaBrie.

Mort & Co Feedlot opened the gates to their Grassdale feedlot on Thursday for a tour of the recently expanded facility where industry members were able to get a glimpse inside the successful company. Mort & Co General manager for Feedlots & farms, Scott Braund, said recent expansion works now allowing Grassdale to hold and feed 77,000 cattle make the property an awesome feedlot asset. “When coupled with Pinegrove, there is capacity to turn off around 215,000 cattle per year, based on the current

Pictures: Contributed

Mort & Co market mix,” he said. “As good as the hardware is, it’s the people both within and supporting these feedlot operations that make them function. “The Grassdale operation, given its scale and complexity, is a daily exercise of not only sound systems and thorough execution across the entire Mort & Co business but the commitment of everyone involved. “It’s been great journey to be part of for all of us”. Keep an eye out for future TSBE events at www.tsbe.com.au/events.




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FAST FACTS Since its deployment the five most common detections have been: Mail: Chicken/Duck Pork Beef Plant Pet Food Airport Fruit Meat Herb/spices Seeds Seafood

SCREENING: Bio-security management is underway at Melbourne Airport Picture: Contributed


World first at work at airport THE world’s first auto-detection algorithm for meat products is screening thousands of biosecurity risk material at Melbourne’s International Airport and Mail Centre. Agriculture Minister David

Littleproud said compared with conventional x-ray technology detections of biosecurity risk items have doubled at the airport and tripled at the mail centre since the rollout of 3D X-ray technology last year. “Australia is a world leader in biosecurity and we’re getting better. New technology

like this plays an important role in keeping pests out,” Mr Littleproud said. “The 3D X-rays are streamlining passenger and mail screening into Australia and allowing our biosecurity officers to do their work more effectively. “At the airport, the X-ray

trial in the Melbourne Gateway Facility was due to finish on 30 November 2019, but following the project’s success, the technology will be set up permanently in Melbourne and Sydney mail facilities. “The meat algorithm is able to detect 60 per cent of meat products and it will only

continue to improve as it is refined. “This world first achievement is just one way the Australian government is modernising our ongoing biosecurity efforts at the border, keeping Australia free from exotic pests and diseases.”


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has screened 95,059 bags and detected 6039 biosecurity risk items, including pork products, which can carry African swine fever. “ASF is right on our doorstep in Timor-Leste and poses a huge biosecurity threat to our pork industry. “The world’s first 3D X-ray





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Making access easier for



MORE red tape will be slashed for Farm Household Allowance applications with new legislation introduced into parliament. Agriculture and Drought Minister David Littleproud said the government was committed to making sure farmers could access the allowance when they need it. “I don’t want farmers jumping through hoops when it’s not needed,” Minister Littleproud said. “We’ve taken several recommendations from a farmerled panel to make the FHA applications more straightforward. “These changes are another step in simplifying the Farm Household Allowance. “Business income reconciliation will no longer be necessary in the new financial year. “This will prevent putting farming families in debt if they receive unexpected income. “Case managers will also be able to extend the time farmers have to complete farm financial assessments so they don’t miss out on support in complex

•Since 2014 the FHA has paid $398 million to more than 13,300 individuals. •$2 million per week invested in rural communities through the FHA. •Coalition reviewed the Farm Household Allowance in 2018. •Farmer-led panel made recommendations to refocus and simplify the allowance.

cases. “These changes build on improvements we’ve made over the past 12 months, such as letting couples apply for the FHA in a single online application – telling their story once. “Farmers making a loss can also offset their off-farm income up to $100,000 per couple. “We’ve made FHA available for four out of 10 years, instead of a three year lifetime limit. “We’ve also made Relief Payments for people finishing their first four years of FHA in recognition of the extended drought and unprecedented natural events.”

David Littleproud during Question Time in the House of Representatives in Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Gary Ramage Picture: File

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Give yourself a break



The 62nd Annual Bell Show.


All the fun of the fair as Bell turns on charm THE 2020 show season has kicked off. Bell Show has been among some of the first for the year and, as always, gave locals and visitors alike the chance to experience the charm of a country show.

Fun for young and old at the Bell Show. FOR ALL AGES:

Pictures: Emily Jarvis.

Sideshow alley is always fun.

The ring drew plenty of comepitors and crowds.

Action in the ring at Bell Show.

Evelyn and Sadie Bellard and Julie Warbe.



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Carrie Slack and Janette Golding.

The 62nd Annual Bell Show.

Pippa, Jane and Zoe Edmondstone and Robyn and Neil Phalan.

Darcy Graham, Rammy Barren, Erin Graham and Shae Barren.

The 62nd Annual Bell Show.

The 62nd Annual Bell Show.

Ella and Pheobe Christie, Val Crawford and Karen Plowman.

The 62nd Annual Bell Show.

The 62nd Annual Bell Show.








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Crops have drowned, fences were damaged in ‘droughtbreaking’ rain event MEG GANNON SHEER relief of seeing rain clouds rolling over grain farmer Doug Harrison’s Jandowae and Warra farms soon turned to horror as “drought-breaking” rain lashed the 61-year-old’s property, causing up to $20,000 worth of damage and drowning 120ha of crops. The damp ground and luscious green paddocks are a far cry from last year’s drought conditions where Bell farmer Allan Sorley, 79, spent $100,000 last year to keep his cattle alive. The rain that fell should have been a relief after nearly a decade of harsh, unrelenting drought. But what Mr Sorley received was “severe” damage to his property and lost crops. “We had 300mm at the foot of the Bunyas, we didn’t actually get the rain here but … we suffered major damage,” Mr Sorley said. “We lost a lot of top soil on the cultivation and a lot of fencing damage.” Crops destroyed, infrastructure damaged When the rain first arrived, Mr Sorley said he was relieved to see water hitting his dry and barren property. “Since it started we’ve had around 400mm but the rain that we’ve had has been good rain,” he said. “We received 139mm during one night here and it didn’t do any damage at all.” Ten to 15 per cent of Mr Sorley’s freshly planted crops

were drowned at his Bell property, among thousands of dollars’ worth of damage done to infrastructure on the farm, including 200-300m of fencing wiped out in the floods. “It’s going to take months, unless I employ people to help with the fencing, and then the farming has been put right back,” he said. “It won’t be easy to fix by any matter of means.” Mr Harrison’s properties received eight inches of rain in 2019. In three weeks in 2020 his property received double that, enough to destroy a $19,000 levy bank that was built on his property in 2013 to prevent future flood damage. “When I was told about the flooding in Jandowae that morning, I was very worried about my farm up here,” he said. “With the water spreading as far as the eye could see, I went up along the road and it didn’t look too bad where the main road crossed it.” But during the floods and through the course of the drought, the levy bank deteriorated. “While I was spraying, I noticed it’s blown out the bank and deposited a hell of a lot of silt,” he said. “On the creek crossing, the strength of the flood blew away both sides of the creek bank and made a mess of my land.” It was a combination of too much water and the dryness of the drought that destroyed the levy bank, leaving Mr Harrison almost $20,000 out

TRYING TIMES: Allan Sorley has bore the brunt of floods and drought, with no signs of the disaster relenting.

of pocket. “It had been working so well but because it was so dry, the levy bank obviously had aeration and cracks and the water soon leaked through,” he said. “When the volume and pace of it leaned up against it, it all just worked its way through and literally blew the banks apart.” Mr Harrison had 120ha of freshly planted mung beans drown in the floods – another unsuccessful yield after years of crops failing in the drought. “I was going to plant about 270ha of mung beans but I probably only got 150ha,” he said. “I had 80ha of them drown. I went back and planted about 40ha and that was drowned too. “We’ve got to take the losses, I guess. After it being dry for so many years and praying for rain, typical at the end of the drought is floods. “It’s just sent too much pressure down – it had nowhere to go but to take the levy bank out.” First the drought, now the floods Mr Sorley has lived on the land his whole life and owned his property in Bell since the 1970s. He bought his very first property in 1958. But the severity of the damage on his property is some of the worst he has seen. “We had 11 inches back in the early 1980s and it didn’t do anywhere near the amount of damage that this one has done,” Mr Sorley said. Prior to the floods, Mr

Harrison was just one farmer that suffered dismal yield after dismal yield during an unrelenting, decade-long drought. “We had three or four years that were pretty hard, with one or two average crops in between,” he said. “They’d get off to a relatively quick start. Then they’d fall over and we just couldn’t pick up. “With the winter crops it was the same thing – the yield there was very low.” Mr Harrison planted barley last year and had to dig it up after it didn’t yield – something he had never had to do. He’s now relying on crops he planted late in the season to provide some substance but even that poses several risks. “We’ve only had one out of

six (crops) that got us going again,” he said. “We’re just hoping now that the few beans I’ve got in now might bring us something. “ Mr Sorley faced a similar fate but was one of the lucky few that didn’t lose any cattle. He was forced to destock. Why they do what they do Mr Sorley isn’t a stranger to the trials and tribulations of life on the land, having lived this way his entire life. But these trials aren’t enough for him to give up his livelihood. “I’ve been through droughts before,” he said. “If I was young I’d feel defeated but at this day and age in life I’ve been there, done that and tomorrow will be better.

Allan Sorley's property in the midst of the drought.

“It’ll take a major amount to do something like that in life now.” Mr Harrison is the last person left in his family to take care of his properties. Letting the work get too much and the drought become too discouraging is not an option for him. “You take the good with the bad, you have your whinges and carry on,” he said. “I sometimes wonder about it – it’s very stressful. “You go to bed at night and your brain is always active. “When we farmers put the head on the pillow we’ve always got worries about the land or the tractor or something. “It is a stressful life but someone has to do it and I chose to be one of those guys.”

Pictures: Contributed

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Emma King, Adam Keen, Sarah Nolet, Monica Bradley, Cass Mao, Sam Marwood, Ben Lyons.

Picture: Contributed


Roadshow offering advice EMILY BRADFIELD EXPERTS in the Australian investment landscape hit the road across the Darling Downs last week to deliver their advice on investment and finance directly to producers. The Investing in the Ag Industry roadshow held in Goondiwindi, Dalby and Toowoomba featured a lineup of established investors and consultants who outlined the future of agriculture and opportunities for investment and growth in the area. Sarah Nolet, co-founder of Tenacious Ventures, one of

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Australia’s first agtech venture capital funds, was one of the key speakers and saw huge potential and interest from the audiences at the events. “I think there’s a lot of people testing the waters with us and seeing if there is anything here for them in agtech or in impact investing, and I think there is interest, so we’ll have to give people a pathway to take that next step,” she said. Ms Nolet’s presentation centred on agtech and sorting through the hype to find value. Ms Nolet’s key advice for farmers wanting to adopt agtech was to focus on value-

adding and problem-solving. “Start with the problem,” she said. “There’s so much stuff out there you can spend all your time going down different rabbit holes of what exists. “But really taking that focus of what’s going to improve my decision-making or what’s going to help unlock value in my business, where are there constraints or where is there challenges where more data or a new process could help.” Ms Nolet also provided producers with a practical way to get involved with agtech as more than a customer and develop their ideas into a

business through the Farmers2 Founders program, which helps producers build entrepreneurial and technological skills or adapt new technologies through the two streams: the Early Adopters Program and the New Venture Creation program. Sam Marwood, co-founder of Cultivate Farms, worked to inspire the crowd with hope of realising their farming vision, whether it be aspiring farmers without the means to purchase their own farm, retiring farmers looking to solve succession issues or investors wanting to get involved in the

farming landscape. Cultivate Farms is Australia’s first farm matchmaking service, pairing aspiring farmers with retiring farmers or investors to share ownership and build a successful business. “We call it ‘efarmony’ as a joke, but it is all about matching people who have a vision for farming and making sure it’s a good match,” he said. The regional investment roadshow was an initiative of Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise through Advance Queensland, supported by Southern Queensland

Landscapes through the Australian Government’s National Landcare program and the Rural Economies Centre of Excellence. TSBE Food Leaders Australia general manager Bruce McConnel said the roadshow was a great opportunity for regional producers and businesses. “This regional tour is a great chance for regional businesses to learn from some of Australia’s leading investment experts and learn skills to take an idea to a business, a business to an exceptional growth story,” he said.




Agricultural trailblazer an OAM for being strong, vocal advocate

RECOGNISED: South Burnett land owner and Ag Force president Georgie Somerset received an Australia Day award.

EMILY BRADFIELD A TRAILBLAZER for women in agriculture and long-term advocate for rural and regional Australians, AgForce president Georgie Somerset was awarded an Australia Day honour last weekend. The Durong cattle producer and AgForce president was named a Member of the Order of Australia for her significant service to primary industry, women and the community.

Mrs Somerset was humbled to receive the accolade and said the honour was in being able to represent the men and women of regional Australia. “There are no more resilient, resourceful and positive people living anywhere in the world than here in the bush,” she said. “We are used to battling on with a steadfast resilience against whatever is thrown at us, raising strong families who remain positive when seasons are dire, knowing they will

continue this incredible positivity. “It is a privilege to be involved in helping provide a voice for these people and their businesses, as sometimes I think this resilient attitude is taken advantage of by governments and businesses to provide a second-rate service. “I am optimistic agriculture’s contribution to our economy and our environment will be more valued in the years ahead and I am committed to continuing the work

I do to assist this.” Mrs Somerset has paved the way for women in agriculture, most notably as AgForce’s first female general president. She was also a founding member and later president of the Queensland Rural Regional and Remote Women’s Network, vice-president of the National Foundation for Australian Women and an associate member of the National Council of Women. She is also a board member of the Australian Broadcasting

Picture: Contributed

Corporation, the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland). AgForce CEO Michael Guerin commended Mrs Somerset’s decades-long dedication in advocating for equality for people in the bush. “Georgie has been a strong and vocal advocate for the agriculture industry for many years, first as a member of the United Graziers’ Association, and for the past 20 years with

AgForce,” Mr Guerin said. “We are fortunate to benefit from her passion, her dedication and her vision as general president as we advocate on behalf of not just primary producers but the rural and regional communities of which they are an integral part. “In particular, Georgie’s support for women in agriculture has done so much to improve the recognition of their contribution and the opportunities available to them, leading by example …”

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2019 editioN EDITION 4 2019



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