Thursday, 17 February 2011 09:50

Milking It...

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A rod for their back

A shortage of labour is a bugbear for most farmers, but how many would think this would be a problem on a prison farm?

That’s the case at the Darling Downs Correctional Facility west of Toowoomba, which has been hampered by an apparent run of law-abidance in the state.

The prison usually houses more than 200 prisoners, many working in the dairy farm, but this year the figure has been consistently closer to 80, forcing other offenders to pick up the slack.

The prison is one of only two commercial prison farms in Queensland, the other being west of Rockhampton. The farm focuses on producing milk for the prison but any excess is sold to Dairy Farmers.

About 1.8 million litres were produced last financial year from about 200 milkers, with a total herd size of 475 head.

It could well be the farm work that has helped prisons make a successful transition into society on their release; if that’s the case, the farm managers may need to think of future employee options.


Acronym argy-bargy

A well-known dairy organisation issued a press release recently talking about dairy breeding and genetics being confusing with terms like APR, ABV, PI, ASI and RIP.

Luckily, the organisation says the confusion caused by acronyms will be a thing of the past with a new, commonsense approach.

Which is the organisation in question? It is ADHIS, of course.


Taking it to the streets

It seems supermarkets building profit on poor farmgate prices is a worldwide phenomenon with the UK farm lobby group, Farmers For Action (FFA), taking their displeasure with Tesco to the streets.

FFA chairman David Handley says the demonstrations will continue until supermarkets decide to hold talks and renegotiate the milk price.

The National Farmers Union is usually against such protests, but these actions even have NFU President Jim McLaren on side. McLaren said recently: “I have every sympathy with those who feel the need to resort to direct action to vent their frustration and we will work with them to achieve very similar goals. This winter we will continue to take the argument direct to the supermarkets, and if we need to do that on their doorsteps for them to listen, then so be it. “


First Cats, now Cows?

First there was Cats, now a Warrnambool-based composer is developing a mini musical about cows and women who work in the dairy industry.

Jeanette Hajncl wants to celebrate the stories of women who live on dairy farms in The Cow Cantata, which will make its debut in 2011.

She was inspired to write the musical after being introduced to dairy farm women at a luncheon in Warrnambool last year.

The musical will broadly cover a day in the life of a dairy farm and chronicle the different ways women came to the land.

The project has received a grant from the Federal Government’s Regional Arts Fund and will receive further help from WestVic Dairy to develop the project.

Interviews are being held this month and rehearsals will start next month.

Watch out for its debut on Broadway by the end of the year...


Pushing the boundaries

The Australian Food and Grocery Council recently claimed that imports of food and groceries exceeded exports by $1.8 billion during the past financial year.

We’re not sure what was behind their agenda, but they told their fair share of furphies to create that figure.

Economic journalist Ross Gittins points out that correct figures show we have a $14.4b surplus, exporting $25.4b worth of food and importing $11b.

The council’s figures included unprocessed food exports, including $4.8b worth of wealth, grains and live animals. Their imports include medicines, plastic bags and film.

All in all, it left Australia with a trade surplus of $6.2b for fresh and processed food and beverages. So we’re a fair way from relying on other countries to feed us.

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