Australia to commence free trade with UK

Free trade between Australia and the UK is now a step closer following the launch of negotiations via video conference by Australia’s Minister for Trade, who assured aussie farmers that agriculture is a top priority.

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The science of getting goods to the markets from the CSIRO

Researchers have provided the most detailed map of routes and costings across Australia’s entire agricultural supply chain, potentially saving the industry millions of dollars annually.
CSIRO researchers have applied the logistics tool TraNSIT (Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool) to 98 per cent of agriculture transport across Australia including commodities such as beef, sheep, goats, dairy, pigs, poultry, grains, cotton, rice, sugar, stockfeed, horticultural and even buffalo.
The information was presented in the final TraNSIT agricultural report.
Transport infrastructure is essential to moving over 80 million tonnes of Australian agricultural (including horticultural) output between farms, storage, processors and to markets each year and  costs close to $6 billion annually.
The TraNSIT tool identifies ways to reduce travel distance and time, save fuel costs, cut down on wear and tear to vehicles and produce and minimise stress for both truck drivers and livestock.
“Farmers will be saving money on transport as well as being able to deliver food to the market faster and with less damage and disruption,” CSIRO’s TraNSIT project leader Dr Andrew Higgins said.
“We expect these savings will eventually be passed onto the consumers.”
In 2013, CSIRO developed TraNSIT to provide a comprehensive view of transport logistics costs and benefits based on infrastructure investments in agriculture supply chains in Australia.
An initiative of the Federal Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the tool was originally applied to the beef industry before being extended to all agriculture transport across Australia.
The first project under the $100 million Beef Roads program will be the sealing of 17km of the Clermont to Alpha Road in Central Queensland, which is due to start early next year.
The $8m works will improve road safety and access for oversize vehicles while reducing freight and maintenance costs.
Besides the latest TraNSIT agricultural report focusing on each agricultural commodity, it also features a flood case study and rail to road scenarios.
“Several case studies were identified by industry and government for this final report, representing TraNSIT’s diversity of applications across Australia,” Dr Higgins said.
Researchers applied TraNSIT to evaluate the impact of road closures and detours on the transport of valuable crops and livestock during flood events, using Forbes in Central West NSW as an important case study.
From early September to mid-October in 2016, severe rainfall caused extensive road closures throughout NSW with Forbes becoming particularly isolated.
“The Forbes area is a diverse agricultural region of grain production, beef cattle, poultry, dairy and pigs,” Dr Higgins said.
“There was about a $2m increase in transport costs created by the short term and long term road closures from this flooding event, and about another 500 vehicle trips that could not occur as there was no alternative routes.
“The cost would have been even greater if the floods had occurred during harvest season where more cotton and grain are being transported in large volumes on the roads.”
Using TraNSIT, researchers can analyse several ways to reduce the economic impact of floods in country regions and throughout Australia including upgrading or raising particular bridges to reduce the frequency of closures from flooding.
This will in turn reduce the occurrences where cattle or harvested crops cannot reach their market.
The rail-to-road hypothetical scenario looked at the impact of shifting all agriculture (grains, beef, sugar, cotton) that currently use rail to be road only.
Grains were more expensive ($208m) when transported by road while cattle (or beef) was much less expensive (about 70 per cent less). These differences were primarily due to rail wagon capacity versus semi-trailer capacity.
TraNSIT is now being applied overseas, particularly in Indonesia, Laos and Vietnam to address supply chain inefficiencies and cross-border bottlenecks.
For more information on TraNSIT and to view the final agricultural report, visit

Merger of former Albany, Bunbury, Esperance ports under review

The former Albany, Bunbury and Esperance port authorities were merged to form the Southern Ports Authority in October 2014 as part of the first tranche of port governance reforms.
Nearly three years after the amalgamation, a review will now consider the performance of the relevant ports before and after amalgamation to ascertain whether the expected benefits have been achieved, whether original concerns about the merger have been justified and if further changes are required for the future operation of the ports.
A working group will provide a report with findings and recommendations to the Minister for Transport by December 2017. The group is chaired by Agricultural Region MLC Laurie Graham and will include representatives from the Department of Transport and the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.
“Now that nearly three years have passed, it is time to conduct a post-implementation review to evaluate what benefits have been achieved as a result of the amalgamation,” said Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.
“The purpose of the review is to evaluate the outcomes of amalgamating the Albany, Bunbury and Esperance port authorities to form Southern Ports.
“It’s clear to me from my travels in the South-West, Great Southern and Goldfields-Esperance regions in the past couple of years that people hold a range of views about the success or otherwise of the amalgamation, and whether it has been good for the regions.
“The working group will go into the process with an open mind and will present their findings to Government towards the end of the year.”

Kennards Hire expands branch network in WA and NT

Family-owned equipment hire group, Kennards Hire, is expanding its branch network in the northwest of Australia, with three new branches in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Having recently acquired CAPS Hire, the Kennards Hire network has expanded to include Broome and Kununurra in Western Australia. In the Northern Territory, the acquisition has enabled the business to consolidate branch operations, closing its current branch in Winnellie and moving into the newly acquired site.
The newly branded Kennards Hire branches have been fitted out with specialist equipment designed to suit the unique industries in the regional areas – specifically the mining and agriculture industries – as well as its traditional DIY customers.
“It’s a great opportunity for Kennards Hire to be joining these communities since we’re able to benefit locals while filling the gap in the market for these areas,” said Tony Symons, General Manager, Kennards Hire Western Australia and Northern Territory.
“The real story is that in all of our new locations, we are tweaking our capability and service offering to meet the unique market needs. For instance, Broome has a far less focus on mining than Kununurra, so we will bring many of our traditional equipment products to town.”
In addition to the CAPS Hire acquisition, a new Kennards Hire branch in Port Hedland will open in September.
The CAPS Hire branches changed ownership at the end of July and will be rebranded as Kennards Hire in early August.

Funding earmarked for Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal

Wimmera grain growers are set to benefit from the development of new industrial lots at the Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal site in Victoria, following the announcement of $1.25 million in funding from the Andrews Labor Government for Stage One of its construction.
“The Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal is located on the national rail freight network and further investment at this precinct will create better connections from paddock to port,” said Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford.
Industrial lots with bitumen road access, street lighting and other amenities will be established on the 100-hectare precinct, for agribusinesses and food and fibre processors establishing operations at the precinct.
The Wimmera is one of Victoria’s largest dryland farming regions and the Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal is a key export hub for local grain producers.
“By investing in the best infrastructure, we are helping grain growers get more produce from paddock to port more efficiently – that’s good news for growers and Victoria’s booming exports,” Pulford added.
“Supporting Victoria’s agriculture sector by investing in key infrastructure is a priority for the Government.”
The $2.5 million development will be delivered by Horsham Rural City Council, with support from the Labor Government.

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