AFIA welcomes new CEO

24 November 2020

The Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) has appointed experienced agricultural executive Paula Fitzgerald as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Ms Fitzgerald has a long history in the agriculture sector, starting with the CSIRO, working across many commodity sectors, with State and Federal Governments and has previously run a national organisation.

A director of not-for-profit industry organisation Skills Impact and Animal Health Australia, Paula is also a member of the Federal Government’s Gene Technology Ethics and Community Consultative Committee.

Ms Fitzgerald has experience in stakeholder and government relations, policy development and advocacy, communication, regulatory affairs, issues management, membership engagement and capacity building.

AFIA Secretary and Western Australian hay grower Suzanne Woods said this appointment was good news for the fodder industry.

“Paula will bring a new perspective to AFIA based on her broad experience across the agri-sector,” she said.

“The board looks forward to Paula’s commencement and her leadership to build on AFIA’s strong reputation of working for its members and representing everyone along the hay, silage and straw supply chain.”

New AFIA CEO Paula Fitzgerald.

 

Media Contact:

Suzanne Woods Simone Smith
AFIA Secretary (WA based) Media officer
0438 287 191 0438 847 742
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Signs for safety - ten years of National Hay Safe Day

Ten years ago, Suzanne Woods’ search for hay safety signs revealed a gaping hole in the industry.

The Western Australian hay grower, and now Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) secretary, had on-farm and specifically fodder safety front of mind.

Her father had been involved with an on-farm hay related accident the year before.

She wanted to do what she could do to help prevent injuries and tragedies throughout the industry.

“I’d searched all the black and yellow safety signs,” she said. “I went to a number of online sites and looked at all the safety signs, they had some for agriculture with tractors and some of chemical safety and numerous others. But nothing specifically identifying hay.”

Fast forward 10 years, there is now hay specific safety signs available on the AFIA website.

These signs were created by a graphic designer working for the Woods family a decade ago. They simply and accurately identify the dangers associated with hay production and transport.

“We’ve had them on our trucks, on a magnetic sign,” Suzanne said. “They are also stuck on the side of the hay shed, blown-up really big to A1 size.”

Suzanne has become an industry safety advocate since her father’s accident 11 years ago.

This accident was the catalyst for establishing National Hay Safe Day – on October 25 – a decade ago.

“I didn’t want another family to have to go through we had experienced,” Suzanne said.

“It is very satisfying that out of something so awful, something positive could be achieved.”

National Hay Safe Day has grown considerably, adopting different themes for various years, and is recognized throughout Australian agriculture.

The contribution of safety to a business bottom-line has been emphasized as part of National Hay Safe Day promotions.

“We have been highlighting that when you are budgeting at the beginning of the year, working out what to spend money on, we were encouraging people to make sure safety gets an allocation- and a decent allocation,” Suzanne said.

“If you include it in the budget, it means you think it is important and you are going to make sure that you contribute some finances towards it.”

While safety is something that should be constantly front-of-mind, Suzanne said having an official day for the industry was a great way to keep safety on the agenda.

“It (safety) is definitely front and central now, which is where is should be,” she said.

“It is a legitimate conversation now.”

Hay safe signs are available on the AFIA website.

The signs are available via PDF to download.

For web copy link https://www.afia.org.au/index.php/projects/safety/fodder-safety?start=1

Safety advocate: AFIA secretary and Western Australian hay grower Suzanne Woods says having an official safety day kept the topic “front-of-mind”.

Warning signs: The first specific fodder industry safety signs were made available to the industry through the Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) ten years ago. More are available to download from the AFIA website.

Media Contact:

Suzanne Woods Simone Smith
AFIA Secretary Media officer
M: 0438 287 191 M: 0438 847 742
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Quality’s the key for new AFIA chair

Media Release

28 September 2020

Improving farmer’s knowledge of hay quality and the value it brings to Australian agriculture is a priority for the new Australian Fodder Industry Association chair.

South Australia grower Brad Griffiths took the reins of the national organization representing the hay, silage and straw supply industry last week replacing NSW farmer and agronomist Frank McRae.

Brad wants to grow the profile of the fodder industry and show its role as a useful commodity, regardless of seasonal conditions.

“As fodder growers, we don’t want to be looking towards the next drought to demonstrate the value of our product,” he said.

“As an industry we are constantly working to improve the quality of our product and well-made hay, silage and straw enhances livestock operations and helps them manage risk.”

A wet spring in most parts of the country will pose a challenge for fodder production this season, with growers and contractors keen to make the most of any dry weather windows.

Yields expectations are high, but the flush of spring growth and low national livestock numbers has halted fodder demand.

Brad said this lack of market liquidity meant it was hard to accurately gauge fodder prices and that’s why AFIA’s Hay Report has been such an important business tool for members.

“The report is available nearly every week – distributed to all AFIA members – and it covers prices right throughout the country,” he said.

“If anything happens in the hay market, its captured in the report as it includes price ranges, market and seasonal commentary.”

Farming at Mallala in South Australia, Brad manages his family’s business which focuses on cropping, domestic and export hay production. He’s been an AFIA Board member for two years.

The export hay industry is vital to Australian hay production, growing to more than 1.2 million tonnes a year.

Brad said AFIA was committed to assisting the development of this market which has expanded considerably in the past five years.

Outgoing chair and AFIA Board director Frank McRae said Brad’s experience in the fodder supply chain, including growing, contracting and transport, would be invaluable to the leadership of AFIA.

“It is great to see younger industry participants taking on these leadership positions,” he said.

“They are going to guide the industry into its next phase and I’m looking forward to robust discussions around the Board table.”

Media Contact:

Brad Griffiths Simone Smith
AFIA Chair Media officer
M: 0439 822 957 M: 0438 847 742
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Scholarship winner: changing forage management for a future in dair

Media Release

3 August 2020

Scholarship winner: changing forage management for a future in dairy

We aren’t dairy farmers anymore; we are crop growers who milk cows.

That’s according to Mitchell Lumsden, the latest Lallemand Animal Nutrition and Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) GenAg Scholarship winner.

The 22-year-old will use the $3000 scholarship to investigate transitioning his family’s pasture-based, grazing dairy operation in northern Victoria to a housed-cow total mixed ration system.

His research will focus on the viability of TMR farming, especially in low farmgate milk price seasons.

Mitchell said water availability and cost determined dairy profitability in recent years and he didn’t think this would change.

“The irrigation water reliability isn’t here anymore, it has changed with environmental flows and foreign buyers,” he said.

“Water is hard to come by, this means to run a successful business we are going to have to think differently and farm differently.”

Mitchell is a fourth-generation dairy farmer at Leitchville where his parents milk up to 800 cows.

Running the family farm is his dream, but since finishing school he has furthered his skills and education working at other dairy farms, for a forage contracting business in Canada and is currently employed by Eade Forages in northern Victoria.

Managing seasonal and price risk through forage conservation and planning was something he learnt in Canada.

Mitchell wants to use the GenAg Scholarship to further explore this in an Australian context where farmgate milk prices fluctuate.

“In NSW, they have almost already gone through this transition period – between grazing and TMR – where we are at,” he said.

“They are more of a dryland operation which can get water sometimes. Last year they got 0 per cent allocation and we, in Victoria, got 80 per cent. We are only 100 metres away from NSW, there’s every possibility that could happen in Victoria.”

“I want to meet those people and see what changes they have made to their businesses, what they think the key points are now, with their business, and what their focus has changed too.”

“We all know grazing is the cheapest form of feed, but if water is over $250-$300 a megalitre, it is not viable, and you can’t get the quantity of milk out of the cows.”

Mitchell anticipates his research will discover the extra cost of TMR – up to $100 a dry tonne to chop silage, feed it out and labour – would mean the business would have to produce more milk to cover costs.

Feed planning and the development of a self-sufficient dairy farm is also something Mitchell wants to explore.

Lallemand Animal Nutrition is proud to support the next generation of professionals in the forage industry, Lallemand Animal Nutrition Managing Director – Australia, Alex Turney said.

“As a global leader in natural microbial products, Lallemand is committed to working with and supporting the future industry leaders,” he said.

“Mitch demonstrates a commitment to growth and has specific interests that will contribute to the forage industry for years to come.

“Lallemand is happy to have a small part in supporting his success.”

“The future of agriculture is in good hands.”

AFIA Chief Executive Officer John McKew said the GenAg Scholarship is an important financial aid for young people in the fodder industry.

“It helps to develop their knowledge, experience and career aspirations,” he said.

“I commend Lallemand for their support of the next generation of agricultural leaders and influencers.”

 

Media Contact:

John McKew   Simone Smith
Chief Executive Officer   Media officer
W: (03) 9670 0523    
M: 0438 182 600   0438 847 742
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NEXT GEN: Mitchell Lumsden will investigate the transition from pasture-based dairying to TMR with the scholarship from AFIA and Lallemand Animal Nutrition.

FORAGE FUTURE: Fourth generation northern Victorian dairy farmer Mitchell Lumsden will use the funds from an AFIA and Lallemand Animal Nutrition scholarship to learn more about managingseasonal and price risk through forage conservation and planning.

 

Hay shed build boom

Media Release

27 April 2020

Victorian hay shed construction has surged off-the-back of a record 2019 fodder harvest.

Growers in the southern Mallee and Wimmera regions are leading the charge, all wanting to invest in infrastructure to protect the quality of their hay.

Sales of hay sheds are on track to double this season for Entegra, one of the Wimmera and Mallee’s largest shed construction businesses.

Since the beginning of this year, Entegra has sold 65 per cent of the total number of hay sheds it sold in 2019.

Hay shed construction is the fastest growing business category for Entegra, which manufactures all types of agricultural and industry sheds.

“A lot of farmers had so much hay at the end of harvest that it was stacked-up to 10 bales high in the paddocks,” Entegra General Manager Laurie McCalman said.

“This has been an incredible turnaround in a region which had gone through severe drought and then a flood during the 2018 harvest.

“This past season, record prices encouraged hay production and now it is flowing through to on-farm investment.”

Warracknabeal grower Travis Penny recently purchased a new hay shed.

“Hay’s an important part of our operation now and if you’re going to go to the expense of doing hay, you’ve got to store it well,” he said.

“The market price fluctuates and with our latest hay shed, we’ll be able to better maintain the (quality of our hay) and have more options.”

Pre-engineered structural hay sheds (kits) which can store from 1,000 to 2,500 have been the most popular locally, due to the large volumes of hay produced, according to Laurie McCalman.

“Farmers want their sheds installed faster and thanks to the introduction of the kits, this has been possible,” he said.

“Thanks to the hay shed kits, we were able to install a record number of sheds before they were needed for vital hay storage.”

Customised hay sheds have also been popular with growers.

Mr McCalman said some sheds, up to 7.5 metres high, were constructed because farmers have the machinery to stack bales at that level and it’s also cost effective.

“For example, if you increase the height of a 2,500 bale shed from 6m to 7.5m you can store at least an additional 300 bales of hay,” he said.

“So, we’ve just introduced the 2800 bale hay shed for this season.”

Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) Chief Executive Officer John McKew said the rise in hay shed sales was good news for the industry.

“A well-constructed shed adds value to stored fodder and this provides a quality and consistent product for our customers,” he said.

For more information about hay shed construction:

Visit: https://www.entegra.com.au/how-to-store-a-bale-of-hay/

Or  https://www.afia.org.au/files/Fodder_Brief_-_Fodder_Storage_and_Hay_Sheds.pdf

Media Contact:

John McKew Adam Smith Simone Smith
Chief Executive Officer Entegra Media officer
W: (03) 9670 0523 Marketing Coordinator M: 0438 847 742
M: 0438 182 600 M: 0481 733 217 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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How are you going to make the most of excess feed?

Media Release

6 April 2020

Now’s the time to plan for the spring fodder harvest and help rebuild the nation’s hay stocks.

That’s according to the Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) chair Frank McRae.

With some regions recording their best autumn break for more than a decade, Mr McRae encouraged people to think to the future and consider fodder as part of their drought mitigation strategy.

“It really is the time to think forward to spring, what silage and hay could I make? How will I be able to maintain the quality of the stored feed for years to come?” he said.

“If there is a lot of fodder around, we must be smart about storing it. Pit silage is a way to preserve feed for many years.”

Mr McRae said timely rains in Queensland were keeping local contractors and farmers busy harvesting forage sorghum and pasture.

In NSW, farmers who had to destock due to the drought have been offering their fresh pasture as agistment.

This comes as demand for hay has dropped-off due to improved seasonal conditions.

Rainfall was reflected in hay prices at the end of February, with all categories of hay recording price decreases.

The most predominate price declines were throughout NSW and Queensland. An example was a price fall of almost 50 per cent for pasture hay delivered to Queensland’s Darling Downs, according to the AFIA Hay Report.

The price of hay in other regions dropped slightly into March but values in most regions for all varieties of hay has remained steady since.

AFIA chief executive officer John McKew said the recent tempering of the hay market would help realign market supply and demand.

“Widespread, near drought-breaking rains has relieved the pressure on both sides of the hay market,” he said.

“This rain has provided many hay industry customers with the confidence to restock and strengthen their businesses, this is all good news for the future of the fodder industry.”

 

Media Contact:

John McKew Frank McRae Simone Smith
Chief Executive Officer AFIA Chair Media officer
W: (03) 9670 0523 M: 0428 737 403 M: 0438 847 742
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Lallemand GenAg Future Fund $3,000 Scholarship applications open

Media Release

11 February 2020

Are you a young person working in the fodder industry or studying?

Would you like to contribute to the future of Australia’s growing hay and silage industry?

Do you need $3000 to kick-start your project, or help with educational costs?

If the answers were yes, Lallemand Animal Nutrition and the Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) want to hear from you.

“The next generation are the drivers of our industry,” AFIA CEO John McKew said.

“Their skills, knowledge and experience will lead the expanding and developing fodder industry and we want to provide their educational journey with a head-start.”

“Lallemand Animal Nutrition and AFIA see this scholarship as a long-term investment in the industry.”

Fodder producer Cameron Lowe, from Wasleys in the Mid North of South Australia used the money from his 2018 scholarship to travel to China as part of his university course.

Studying a Bachelor of Farm Business Management, he said the tour provided insight into the hay market few growers had ever seen.

“In China, exporters Hay Australia showed us what happens on the ground and at the plant,” Cameron said.

“As a fodder producer, this understanding of the market, customers and the process involved in selling our hay cemented my trust in the industry and its future.”

But the benefits of the scholarship stretched beyond the financial assistance.

“I travelled with Lallemand to regions of Victoria where I learnt about silage production,” Cameron said.

“At home, we produce about 120,000 small squares a year but we are always on the lookout to do something else.”

“Farming these days is about diversity and this opportunity to learn about other parts of the industry gave me the confidence to consider different options on-farm.”

The scholarship is open for those 18-35 years of age (at the time of application) and they must be studying, planning to study or wishing to undertake a specific project to benefit the Australian fodder industry.

The successful applicant will be the individual who has best demonstrated they can make a long-term contribution to the Australian fodder industry and more broadly, Australian agriculture.

Applications must include:

  • Full name
  • Mailing address
  • Email address
  • Telephone contact number (mobile preferred)
  • Resume detailing current and previous work experience including employers, roles and responsibilities
  • Education completed or being undertaken
  • Details of any experience within the Australian fodder industry
  • Contact details of two referees
  • A current photograph
  • A maximum of 400 words describing how you would apply the funds from the Lallemand GenAg Future Fund if you were the successful applicant.  This may comprise a summary of project work that you are undertaking or considering, or it may describe the completion of additional education and how these funds will be used as part of this.

Participation in an interview panel assessment comprising Lallemand and AFIA appointed representatives may be required.

Applications can be posted to:

Mr John McKew
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Fodder Industry Association
PO Box 527
Ascot Vale Victoria 3032

Or via email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with a subject title “2020 Lallemand GenAg Future Fund Application”

Applications for the 2020 Lallemand GenAg Future Fund close on Tuesday June 30, 2020.

Together we can build a sustainable future for the Australian fodder industry.

Media Contact:

John McKew   Simone Smith
Chief Executive Officer   Media officer
W: (03) 9670 0523    
M: 0438 182 600   0438 847 742
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AFIA welcomes new Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management

Media Release

6 February 2020

The nation’s peak organisation representing hay growers, the Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) congratulates David Littleproud on his appointment as the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management.

AFIA CEO John McKew said the fodder industry was looking forward to working with Minister Littleproud to improve hay market transparency.

“Fodder has played a key role in Australian agriculture’s ability to endure drought and it will continue to be vital in the rebuild once there’s widespread rain,” Mr McKew said.

“AFIA is looking forward to working with Minister Littleproud and the Department of Agriculture to improve the management of data in the fodder industry.”

“A more comprehensive understanding of hay stocks and demand forecasts would ensure farmers have the best information in times of crisis such as droughts and bushfires.”

Media Contact:

John McKew   Simone Smith
Chief Executive Officer   Media officer
W: (03) 9670 0523    
M: 0438 182 600   0438 847 742
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.