Conference to address how we can feed more with less

A global sustainable markets conference in Cairns will this week face the question of how to feed a growing global community with less.

At the conference, industry leaders and conservation experts will discuss the sustainable production of major commodities such as sugar, beef, seafood, paper and timber, and palm oil.

The conference follows the latest draft IPCC report warning of increasing threats to food security as a result of climate change and a rising demand for food commodities, with crop yields already being negatively impacted by global warming, and projected to drop further in many areas.

“WWF is partnering with businesses and producers all over the world on strategies that address some of the issues raised in the most recent IPCC report, such as how to produce more with less in a way that doesn’t further degrade critical ecosystems,” said head of WWF-Australia’s Market Transformations Initiative, Dr Joshua Bishop.

“While these strategies by themselves are not a solution to the problems presented by climate change, they will help us adapt to a changing world and to meet the rising demand for basic commodities. The global population is growing and we are using the Earth’s living resources faster than they can be replenished.”

The conference is taking place between 7 and 11 April and will bring together WWF conservation experts from all over the world, including the US, China, Europe and the Asia Pacific, as well as senior executives from leading corporations.

 

Garlo’s Pies expands into QLD market

Previously only stocked in NSW, Garlo's Pies, the pie manufacturing business established by ex-football player Sean Garlick, is expanding into the sunshine state.

Seven of Garlo's product lines will be available in 160 Coles stores in Queensland, and the expansion comes less than a year after the company moved into a new production facility in Sydney's St Peters.

"This move represents capacity and potential. We've always had potential and everyone's always spoken about how good our product is, but while we've been thwarted in our growth because of the physical limitations of our last premises, over the last couple of years we've learnt where we wanted to go in terms of operations and logistics," Garlick said at the time.

The move into Queensland has been on the cards for quite some time, and while it's testing the family-owned business, Garlick is optimistic that more locations will soon be stocking Garlo's pies and pastries.

“After Coles approached us to supply over 200 stores I sat there and did the numbers in my head,” he said. “At the time we had just enough capacity to deliver the quantities requested. We’d never sent a pallet out the door let alone the quantities that were being ordered by Coles but we decided to trial the product across the state.”  

 

Brisbane catering firm linked to salmonella death

UPDATED 15/11/13 8.30AM

Piccalilli Catering has been identified as the Brisbane catering company at the centre of a salmonella outbreak, which has contributed to the death of one elderly lady and 220 others falling ill.

According to the ABC, up to 700 people may have been exposed, after the catering company provided food to up to 40 different venues for Melbourne Cup celebrations earlier this month.

A statement on Piccalili's website says its catering for the events included fresh mayonnaise made by its chefs from eggs purchased from a Brisbane fresh food wholesaler, and the company believes these eggs are the source of the food-borne illness.

"We are deeply upset and distressed by this outcome. We always pride ourselves on sourcing the freshest Australian ingredients for our kitchens. We feel very disappointed and let down that the normally reliable fresh food supply chain has failed us – and our clients – on this occasion," Piccalilli Catering co-owner, Helen Grace, said.

"Having sourced those eggs from a normally reputable fresh food market, we had no reason to believe they were not up to the very high standards we demand of our suppliers. Suffice to say we will not source produce from this supplier in the future. We will leave it to our insurers and lawyers to determine what other action should be taken."

The company said it has never experienced an incident like this in its 25 year history, and is now undertaking a thorough investigation of its supply chain arrangements.

It's believed salmonella didn't cause the 77 year old Brisbane woman's death, but may have been a contributing factor.

ORIGINAL STORY, 14/11/13

An elderly woman has died and 220 people have fallen ill from a salmonella outbreak, linked to Melbourne Cup events earlier this month.

According to the ABC, food at up to 40 different venues, all provided by the same Brisbane catering company, is at the centre of an investigation into the outbreak, which has resulted in the death of a 77 year old woman.
 

Tip Top opens QLD bakery after $9m upgrade

Tip Top Bakeries, owned by George Weston Foods, has completed a $9 million upgrade of its Springwood factory in Queensland.

Ahead of the facility's 30th anniversary next year, the bakery upgrade included improvements to the onsite warehouse and distribution centre, automated packaging and handling equipment; staff amenities including a lunchroom and changing facilities; an upgrade to the engineering workshop and a new wash bay and crate washer equipment.

Officially opened yesterday by Logan City Council Mayor Pam Parker, Tip Top employs 392 Springwood residents, more than 100 of whom have been with the factory for over 10 years.

The Springwood bakery produces 180,000 units per day across eight distribution lines, including some of GWF's leading brands, Tip Top The One, Sunblest, Golden, Abbott's and Gold Max.
 

HSI calls on consumers to boycott QLD eggs

Humane Society International is outraged by the Queensland government's recent changes to its free range egg standards, calling on consumers to boycott the industry.

Choice announced yesterday that the Queensland government had increased stocking density for its free range eggs from 1,500 birds per hectare to 10,000 birds per hectare – a 667 percent increase.

HSI, an animal protection agency which earlier in the year delivered 40,000 postcards to the prime minister Julia Gillard in protest of the continued mislabelling of free range eggs, says Queensland is threatening true free range egg production.

"The Queensland government has bowed to the pressure of the corporate giants and sold out Queensland family farms, the egg buying consumer and condemned hens to a life of factory farming misery," HSI said in a statement.

HSI said when Queensland was working to its previous 1,500 hens per hectare standard it had an advantage over other states, but now they're point of difference has been lost, especially considering South Australia recently committed to developing a free range labelling system for producers and stocking densities of 1,500 hens or less per hectare.

The Queensland government is allowing the supermarket duopoly to act as regulators in the industry, HSI said, and is making a mockery of the Model Code of Practice, which is intended as a guide for people responsible for the husbandry of domestic poultry.

Lee McCosker from Humane Choice, the certification scheme launched by HSI, called on consumers to turn their backs on Queensland's egg industry.

"In a perverse way the Queensland government has made it just that much easier to make the right choice when you buy free range eggs.  When purchasing eggs at the supermarket, just look at where they are packed and boycott any free range eggs produced in Queensland," she said.

HSI encourages consumers to buy egss from independent supermarkets, butchers, green grocers and farmers markets and to check they have authentic, reliable accreditation.

 

QLD government increases free range densities by 667 percent

Consumer group Choice is accusing the Queensland government of threatening the consumer's ability to make informed purchasing decisions by "stealthily" altering its free range standard.

The Queensland government had previously set a legal maximum of 1,500 birds per hectare for eggs sold under the free range label, but has now changed this amount to 10,000 birds per hectare, a 667 percent increase.

Choice director of campaigns and communications, Matt Levey, said "Consumers have shown they are willing to pay a premium for ‘free range’ eggs and yet changes like this make the term meaningless. This latest move by the Queensland government has jeopardised consumers’ ability to make informed purchasing decisions."

The national Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals, currently under review and intended as a guide for people responsible for the husbandry of domestic poultry, specifies a maximum of 1,500 birds per hectare.

Choice says many consumers are unaware of the Queensland government's new free range standard.

Choice said Queensland's stocking density amendments have "flown under the radar" with many consumers in the state unaware of the changes.

"The increasing number of consumers who wish to buy free-range eggs, and often pay a premium, should be able to do so with confidence," said Levey.

Last month the South Australian government defined free range eggs as coming from hens stocked at 1,500 birds per hectare, a move welcomed by Humane Choice.

 

New Aussie research looks into avocado bruising [video]

A Queensland research project is looking into why avocados bruise so easily and how they can be prevented, with one in three avocados considered a disappointment by consumers.

The research is a joint project between the University of Queensland's (UQ) School of Agriculture and Food Sciences and the Queensland government's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Consumers have said they'd buy more avocados if they had confidence they wouldn't bruise so easily, so the research hopes to reduce consumer disappointment and benefit the industry with higher sales.

UQ PhD student, Muhammad Sohail Mazhar, has followed avocados through the supply chain from ripener, distribution centre, to retailer. He discovered that most flesh bruising occurs at the retail store.

Mazah's doctorate involves looking at shoppers' contribution to bruising in retail stores and how it can be minimised.

UQ's professor Daryl Joyce believes 'decision-aid tools' and education initiatives to help shoppers choose fruit in the store may be the solution.

"Precise firmness-testing machines for avocados already exist in laboratories," he said.

"If we could adapt such devices for use in supermarkets, shoppers could learn how many days away the piece of fruit is from being ready to eat, without them having to squeeze it.

"A cost-effective firmness-testing device – combined with educating store staff, shoppers and consumers – could well be the answer to giving us many more bruise-free avocados."

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Cattle industry praises Rudd’s efforts in Indonesia

A $60m Indonesia-Australia Red Meat and Cattle Forum is the "first step in starting afresh" relations with Indonesia, the Cattle Council of Australia has said.

The new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited Indonesia last week and announced a $60m plan to boost investment in the red meat agribusiness sector, weekytimesnow.com.au reports.

Relations between Australia and Indonesia were damaged following a temporary ban on live exports in 2011. Amid claims of animal cruelty at Indonesian abattoirs, the ban lasted for approximately one month, but the trading relationship between the two regions hasn't yet recovered.

According to seedstockcentral, the funding packaging will be provided over 10 years and is aimed at increasing agricultural cooperation and boosting investment in the red meat agribusiness sector in Indonesia.

The Indonesia-Australia Red Meat and Cattle Forum will be made up of a number of representatives from the beef and cattle industry as well as senior government officials.

"In politics, there is always the opportunity to start afresh with new people," Cattle Council of Australia president, Andrew Ogilvie, said. "It is good that this dialogue with Indonesia is progressing."

Earlier this month,  Indonesian Ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema toured north west Queensland with KAP leader and Kennedy MP, Bob Katter, and got to speak with producers and get a better understanding of the troubles they're facing, which other than the flow-on effect of the live export ban, include drought-like weather conditions. 

 

Australia’s biggest banana producer expands north

The Mackay family, Australia's biggest producer of bananas, has expanded its geographic footprint into Cape York Peninsula to avoid cyclones.

According to weeklytimesnow.com.au, the family had been looking to expand its operation ever since Cyclone Larry wiped out most of its Tully and Innisfail banana crop in 2006.

The Mackays spent $10m for the site at Lakeland, which is a former timber plantation 400km north of Tully and 70km south of Cooktown.

"We've got 250 hectares under bananas at Cooktown and a licence for 2000 megalitres a year for underground water," spokesperson Barry Mackay said.

Mackay said the soils at the Gold Tyne plantation are good, but water availability is a problem, and given Lakeland's remote location, so could labour.

"We will be employing 80 people at Lakeland. We already employ 400 at Tully, so we will locate some Tully people at Lakeland plus backpackers," he said.

He expects to be picking in 18 weeks.

 

Wiley wins again for $136m Primo facility

Wiley, a food industry specialist in integrated facility engineering, has again been praised for its role in Primo's $136m smallgoods facility in Brisbane.

The company won two awards at Queensland Master Builder's (QMBA) Brisbane Regional Awards on 5 July, taking home the 'Industrial Building over $5m' and 'Innovation in Environmental Management' categories.

The awards are in recognition of Wiley's contribution to the design and construction of Primo's new $136m smallgoods facility in Wacol, Brisbane.

In June Wiley's involvement with the new Primo facility saw it presented with the Australian Institute of Buildings's Queensland Chapter's Excellence in Building State Award for 'Research, Development and Technology.'

In accepting the QMBA award, project director, Graham Harvey, said "This is a great win for Wiley, for Primo and everyone who worked so hard to achieve an industry benchmark we can all be proud of."

Wiley is now in the running to compete at the state level with winners announced at a QMBA Gala dinner in September in Brisbane.

The  Primo project's noteworthy achievements include:

  • An energy saving cold storage lighting solution which also reduces the heat load.
  • A refrigeration system that is energy efficient, with lowest possible carbon footprint and zero greenhouse impact, whilst maintaining operational temperatures and preventing cross-contamination. This includes a sub-system for the collection and recycling of condensate from various process areas in the facility for reuse in the refrigeration plant.
  • Utilising waste heat energy generated from the closed-loop refrigeration gas cooling circuit to heat the hydronic system, which in turn prevents subfloor frost heave in the freezer floors.
  • A never before approved, first time system to recycle captured rainwater (with combined capacity of 2,610,000L) to cool the refrigeration cooling towers requiring 12,380KW of cooling total.

 

Wiley praised for $136m Primo facility

Food industry specialists, Wiley, has been praised for its role in the construction of Primo Smallgoods' $136m facility at Wacol, Brisbane.

Wiley designs, builds and services food manufacturing facilities and on 31 May was presented with the Australian Institute of Buildings's Queensland Chapter's Excellence in Building State Award for 'Research, Development and Technology.'

Construction of the facility comprised of two stages spanning a two year project lifecycle: the first covered the cold storage and distribution facilities, while Stage two focussed on the production and administration buildings.

In accepting the award, project director, Graham Harvey said, "This award is a testament to the Wiley integrated project delivery system, the diverse in-house talents of the project team across design, engineering and construction combined with the extensive depth of food facility experience has led to this outstanding world-class result.

"One of the biggest challenges was communicating the complexity of this kind of project’s unique food processing and manufacturing hygiene standards across a complex network of design, engineering and construction teams. Additionally, all project members were fixed on an immovable project end date which would enable Primo to meet their immediate Christmas demand," he said.

Harvey said this was achieved by employing in-house Building Information Modelling (BIM) or 3D modelling to communicate key design elements across all project and client teams.

Wiley will now compete in the national awards, announced in Melbourne in September.

 

Industry leaders prepare for GM debate

The Gold Coast will this weekend be hosting the 2013 Ausveg National Convention, the centrepiece of which will be a debate on the use of genetic modification in food production.

Arguing in favour of GM will be Paula Fitzgerald, manager of biotechnology at Dairy Australia and Professor T.J. Higgins, executive director at Agrifood Awareness and an Honorary Research Fellow at CSIRO’s Plant Industry department.

On the other side of the debate will be Scott Kinnear, director and co-founder at the Safe Food Foundation and Institute, and Maarten Stapper, director at BioLogic AgFood.

The debate will be held at Jupiters Gold Coast on Saturday 1 June at 11.50am, reports Queensland Country Life.

For more information or to register online, visit www.ausveg.com.au/convention.

 

Job cuts at Mackay Sugar

A poor crop estimate for this year and low sugar prices has contributed to Mackay Sugar axing 35 staff positions.

According to the Daily Mercury, the company is embarking on a significant cost reduction program to secure its success in the future.

Mackay Sugar chief executive officer, Quinton Hildebrand, said 2013's crop estimate for Mackay mills sits at 5 million tonnes, while last year's was 5.6 million tonnes.

"The combination of the poor crop and low sugar price means that if we do not address our cost base, the business will not achieve an acceptable performance," he said

"A wide range of initiatives have been identified by the senior management group as part of the cost reduction program, with all aspects of the business examined."

Redeployment options would be considered for the affected staff, however no decision has been made at this stage, said Hildebrand.

How can we solve Australia’s cattle crisis?

Donating cattle to Indonesia and creating a north Queensland cannery to produce tinned beef products were just two of the ideas thrown into the ring at yesterday's cattle crisis talks.

North-west Queensland cattle workers presented a series of resolutions to federal and state ministers for Agriculture at a cattle crisis meeting in Richmond yesterday.

The aim was to pave a path for getting the industry back on its feet after being struck down with the high Australian dollar, intensifying drought conditions and ongoing issues surrounding live exports.

Two years ago, the federal government banned live exports for several months after footage of animal cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs was aired on ABC's Four Corners program.

The ban was heavily criticised by the cattle industry with farmers arguing their livelihood had been threatened – an argument which gained traction once the Indonesian government cut its intake after the ban was lifted.

Earlier this week, footage of animals being mistreated in Egyptian facilities reignited the debate, with live exports to the area suspended and both the Greens and Independent MP Andrew Wilkie calling for an end to the practice.

Attended by around 500 graziers, yesterydays' crisis summit called for short and long term resolutions that would see the industry restored.

According to SMH, many graziers supported a call to donate 100,000 cattle to Indonesia in an attempt to repair the damaged relationship.

Federal MP, Bob Katter, suggested state and federal governments invest in a north Queensland cannery, using excess stock to process tinned beef and soup products for supermarkets.

Some 29 resolutions were passed by the crowd. These include:

1. That the federal government introduce a form of foreign aid to purchase 100,000 head of cattle from Northern Australia at a farm gate floor price of $1.50 per Kg to reduce the risk of the Northern Australia beef industry collapsing and restore the live export trade including lifting the 350 Kg limit.

2. That the Summit calls for the establishment of a body to negotiate with the Indonesian Ambassador the expansion and further development of the live cattle market that has mutual benefits to Australia and Indonesia.

3. That the Summit call on the federal & state governments to develop a method of emergency financial relief for exceptional circumstances assistance for government charges such as, payment of Rates and outstanding taxes, as well as Land Rent decreased by 20 percent for five years.

4. That the state government reduce the registration on transport vehicles by at least 30 percent and reintroduce rail and road subsidies of 30 percent for the duration of the drought for all drought declared shires or that have IDPs over them.

5. That the Summit calls on Meat and Livestock Australia to suspend the $5 Transaction Levy on all drought declared shires and individually droughted properties.

6. That interest rates are excessive and incompatible with sustainable production in agricultural profitability and international competitiveness. The Summit calls on the federal government to reduce interest rates.

7. The Australian dollar is un-competitively high. The Summit calls on the federal government and the Reserve Bank to put in place methods to compensate Australian industries and reduce the dollar, for example, the central bank reduce interest rates to be internationally comparable.

8. The Summit requests the federal member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, after consultation with relevant experts, to present to the next sitting of Parliament a Bill to bring into existence an "Australian Reconstruction and Development Bank" (ARDB) with the capacity to reconstruct debilitating financial arrangements in agriculture and to provide low-interest long term funds (Patient Capital) for the further development of the agricultural industries and infrastructures of Australia.

9. The Summit call on the federal government to review the Taxation Zonal Allowance to attract and retain the rural workforce.

10. The Summit calls for the establishment of one or more strategically placed meatworks in addition to current abattoir initiatives.

11. That the federal government set up a Ministry of Food to ensure a fair standard of living for farmers while maintaining sustainable production systems and to provide a stable and safe food supply at affordable prices for Australian consumers.

12. That this Summit authorises the Beef Crisis Steering Committee to make representation to the federal & state governments and other relevant parties in relation to the resolutions adopted at the Summit.

A number of resolutions from the floor were also agreed.

13. That the federal government officially apologise to the Australian cattle industry and the Indonesian government and people for the appalling way in which the live export ban was handled and the hardship forced on them. And implores the Indonesians to reopen the trade & raise the weight to 500kg, which would not only lighten the pressure on our local markets but help to alleviate the extent of the impending animal welfare disaster which is looming as none of us have the money to feed them.

14. That this summit calls on the government to abolish stamp duty on buying rural property for drought declared shires at least.

15. That the government halt all monetary aid to Asia & sink that money into helping the cattle industry of Australia

16. That the federal government revisit the problem of insufficient competition in the Australian Banking Sector in relation to the Rural Sector and especially address the situation of the Big Four taking over the smaller banks and take measures to stop this practice.

17. That the state and federal government lobby the Reserve Bank of Australia to lower their Base Interest Rate to a level in line with those of the other Major World Central Banks.

18. That the Queensland government subsidise the freight costs at the same rate as for those on carting hay and water on the following items: Polythene pipe and associated fittings; Tanks, troughs and associated fittings; any associated water pumping equipment. The subsidy is to only apply to costs from the closest usual supplier to the development site/s.

19. That the federal government survey all PIC Holders, the survey being based solely on their herd numbers, to determine whether or not they want the NLIS to remain compulsory and if a clear majority of them do not want it to remain so, act on it.

20. The state government consider a 50 percent rebate the on the cost of transporting drilling rigs for water from A to B (B being the property requiring water).

21. That the Summit call on the federal government to properly model the impact of the “Accumulated Tax Loss Credit – Swap for Debt” Proposal developed by the Gulf Horizons Foundation and provide feedback to the Steering Committee by the 30th June 2013.

22. That crown lands being mainly national parks and forest is open for grazing.

23. That urgent attention is given to restoring the kangaroo meat trade with Russia as they are in plague proportions on the Downs.

24. That Australians be permitted to contract directly with Indonesians and Egyptians to process northern cattle.

25. Minister Ludwig has assured us that he is not against the live export trade. Can Minister Ludwig assure us that the people in his government involved in the decision making process share his passion for re-establishing a strong and vibrant live cattle export trade?

26. That an Avgas Rebate for producers equivalent to the diesel rebate be introduced for a period of time to ease the burden on mustering costs.

27. That the Queensland government remove restrictions on road trains (four decks) delivering meatworks cattle within metropolitan areas.

28. That the federal government put in place a 75 percent wage subsidy for rural sector workers in drought declared areas.

29. That the federal government expedites the signing of the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

 

Dry rice the way to go

A researcher at CQ University is teaming up with a farmer for a trial to grow rice under dryland cropping conditions.

The research is an effort to use less water to feed Australia and parts of the world.

Research fellow Surya Bhattaraj is working with Alton Downs grower Peter Foxwell and says a number of trials have been done but this trial will show which varieties work best in the central Queensland region.

“We have a number of genotypes here, 13 different genotypes, some of them are more drought-tolerant and some of them are less tolerant that we confirmed in a pre-trial but here we’re looking at those characteristics again in a bigger field trial,” he told the ABC.

He said they will be examining different yields from each of the genotypes and the quality of the rice.

“The rice quality is also very important and is also very specific to the region you sell,” he said.

Crops are already growing in north Queensland and the central highlands but under irrigated conditions.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re not putting in water but we’re utilising the season of the year,” he said.

The trial aims to take advantage of existing soil moisture and seasonal rainfall pattern.

Foxwell, a farmer, said rice has the capability of being a new dry-land crop. He said management is the key.

“If you start with good reserve moisture in the soil there’s an awful lot of things you can grow,” he said.

He added that while the trials are pertinent to central Queensland, it can also have far-reaching implications for the dry-land industries. He’s confident they will find a type suited to the region and other parts of the country.

“There’s a whole range of measures that you can reduce water use and water use efficiency and part of the trial is looking at varieties that are water use efficient.”

Emergency summit for graziers in strife

Politicians have asked the Queensland state government to get involved in an emergency summit tackling the uncertain future of the state’s graziers.

Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) leader and Federal member for Kennedy Bob Katter, State Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth and State Member for Mount Isa Robbie Katter said graziers in the cattle industry are in a ‘crush’ as cattle prices fall, drought cripples areas from Charters Towers to the Northern Territory, devastating fires on property and weakened live export market.

Katter notified Treasurer Wayne Swan of the summit last Friday and said the committee would be announced this week.

The North West Star reported that Katter, speaking on behalf of all three politicians, said losses to cattle and land values may total $2,000 million and said it would only worsen over the next year.

“Rural debt in Queensland has leapt from $1.2 million to $1.4 million per farm in the last four months along whereas over two years ago it was just $700 000,” he said.

Rob Atkinson is the owner of Katandra Station near Hughenden. The cattle property in Flinders Shire is 40,000 hectares. He said he was midway through an ongoing de-stocking program after going through a ‘very lean’ wet season.

“We’ve had 40 millimetres for the year to date, normally the average would be 250 millimetres in that period of time,” he said.

Atkinson is one of many graziers selling stock he can no longer afford to feed. The flooding of cattle from stations undergoing drought brought the market price per head of cattle down.

Cattle trucks and abattoirs are booked for months.

While the government has offered financial assistance in the past, they cannot offer what the industry needs most- rain.

The emergency steering committee will have representatives from the cattle industry in Northern Australia along with the state and federal government.

Coca-Cola invests in energy-saving PET technology

Soft drink company Coca-Cola Amatil is using almost $1.3 million in carbon price revenue for an energy-saving project at its Richlands facility in Queensland.

The project will help produce the lightest PET plastic bottles in the global Coca-Cola system. It will involve the installation of the latest ‘blow-fill’ or PET bottle self-manufacture technology into an existing beverage production line for 1.25, 1.5 and two litre PET bottles.

Announcing the grant, the minister for industry and innovation Greg Combet, and federal member for Oxley Bernie Ripoll commended the company for reducing emissions and boosting competitiveness.

“Through this project the company will save up to $285,000 in energy costs a year while also reducing the amount of plastic in bottles,” Combet said.

Combet added that other than funding from the government, Coca-Cola Amatil will also contribute $2.5 million towards installing the PET technology.

The project will reduce carbon emissions intensity of the blending and filling equipment at the Richlands facility by 32 percent, thus reducing energy usage by 40 percent.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Mining and beef production can co-exist: QLD mayor

Governments need to recognise the importance of the beef industry if the mining and agriculture industries are to co-exist in Queensland, the Cloncurry mayor has said.

According to the ABC, Andrew Daniels said governments cannot ignore the economic importance of agriculture, which has been shadowed in recent years by the mining boom.

A report from the Australian Institute says Australia's rural sector has lost around $61 billion in export income since the beginning of the mining boom because it's pushed up the Australian dollar.

"We can co-exist but we do need some recognition from the state and federal governments that there is a beef industry that is a very substantial part of their economy out here," Daniels said.

 

Government grant to help Teys meatworks go green

A Rockhampton meatworks will lower it carbon emissions and power bills with the help of a $4.17m grant from the Australian government, as part of its Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program.

Teys Australia Meat Group has been allocated the funds for $8m worth of operational upgrades at its Rockhampton facility.

According to The Mornington Bulletin, the grant is the first of its kind in the region, and is part of a co-investment partnership between Teys Australia and the federal government

In announcing the grant, Capricornia MP Kirsten Livermore said the funds will help Teys to capitalise on export opportunities in a more evironmentally-friendly fashion.

"Four million dollars will be coming to Teys Australia here in Rockhampton to put in place plans that they've had for quite a while, to greatly reduce their carbon emmissions from the plant here and it will also have the effect of dramatically reducing their electricity costs, so they will be able to produce the meat that we are all very proud of here in Rockhampton – the beef capital.

"[It can now] produce that meat for export in a much cleaner and more efficient way, reducing carbon emissions and also in a much more cost competitive way," she said.

Livermore then said the grant is an example of the carbon price helping Australian industries to move forward.

"This is the carbon price in action. This is the carbon price working, modernising our industrial base, modernising our plant here at Teys Australia and these sorts of initiatives are taking place right around the country," she said.

Another company to benefit from the Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment program is confectioner Robern Menz, which late last year was given a government grant of close to $500,000 to embrace green technologies at its Glynde, Adelaide Facility.

 

Floods could cost NSW farmers $10 million

New South Wales' bill following the recent disastrous floods could hit $10 million or more, says the NSW Farmers Association.

The Association estimated that this figure is likely to rise once farmers are able to get out to their paddocks and assess the damage, the Australian reports, with macadamias, bananas, cane and soya beans particularly vulnerable to water damage. It's also expected that significant damage will be to roads, farm infrastructure and houses.

It's worse up north, with losses of $250 million expected at Gayndah, which produces more than half of the country's mandarins and lemons. At least thee locals lost their entire crops, and others are seriously damaged.

Alf Lock is a cane farmer in northern NSW's Ballina, and told the Australian, "This would have to be the worst period in the industry's history.

"The next week for anyone with water in the crop will be critical … There are a number of hot days forecast and when there's a bit of water on the ground, it heats up and just cooks the younger plants — it destroys them completely."