Agribusiness buzz in brief

Andrew Marshall
By Andrew Marshall
July 26 2019 - 5:00am
Agribusiness buzz in brief

Biodiesel plant re-opens

Australia's newest biodiesel facility has officially opened in Barnawartha, northern Victoria, supplying low carbon renewable B5, B20 and B100 to south-east Australia.

Just Biodiesel, in partnership with Refueling Solutions, will produce the renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement at the 50-million litre capacity plant which closed three years ago.

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The operation uses a diverse range of feedstocks including recycled cooking oil and animal fats.

"We are confident with the anticipated growth and support from many local suppliers, substantial economic benefits will be achieved for the region," said Just Biodiesel, general manager, Greg Boyall.

Bioenergy Australia CEO, Shahana McKenzie, said Australia lagged well behind other nations in biofuel production.

"A national biofuel industry could create 8000-plus direct and indirect jobs, contribute over $1.1 billion annually to regional communities, reduce airborne particulate matter and cut our reliance on fuel imports," she said.

Australia's current low fuel reserves left the nation vulnerable.

At the end of October Australia had 27 days supply of total petroleum products - 22 of petrol and 17 days of diesel.

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APAL expands east

Independent soil, water and plant nutrition laboratory group, Australian Precision Ag Laboratory (APAL), has expanded its footprint with Sam Bald recently becoming an equity partner and co-managing director in Melbourne.

An experienced broadacre agronomist, Mr Bald grew up in country Western Australia, spending much of his career with Landmark, running a profit share venture in WA before moving to Victoria as south east crop protection manager and later national digital lead.

APAL already has offices and laboratories in Adelaide and Perth, but Mr Bald's focus is on business development in the eastern states as well as the technology side of the business.

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Agribusiness buzz in brief

Popular prosecco 

Production of prosecco grapes in Australia has jumped 42 per cent in the past year to 9936 tonnes, moving it into the top 10 white winegrape varieties for 2019.

While most white grape varieties saw production volumes decline, prosecco bucked the trend.

Growth in prosecco grape yield is mirrored in the domestic wine market, where sales of prosecco wine have increased more than 100pc in two years, according to Australian Grape and Wine's chief executive, Tony Battaglene.

Prosecco is now the 11th largest varietal by value in the off-trade retail wine market.

While grape production and average prices are highest in Victoria's King Valley, at over $1000 a tonne, wine businesses are now growing prosecco across 11 Australian regions.

"Not only are the sales of the wine positive, but the average price of grapes is the second highest of any other in the top 10 - almost double that of all other white varieties," Mr Battaglene said.

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Zoetis helps Beyond Blue

Animal Health company, Zoetis, has committed to supporting the mental health challenges faced by rural Australians through its partnership with Beyond Blue, promising up to $100,000 to support the charity in 2019.

With suicide rates in remote areas double those in our major cities, Zoetis, which works closely with farmers, agricultural stores, veterinarians and their families, has helped raise $300,000 in the past three years.

The company will donate $5 to Beyond Blue's Support Service from each sale of the company's livestock, pig and poultry vaccines and drenches between July 15 and October 31, 2019.

"Zoetis is proud to again support Beyond Blue and the important work they do," said Australia and New Zealand vice president, Lance Williams.

"Together we've made strong progress in providing tangible contributions to raise awareness of mental health challenges and help fund much needed services directly assisting rural families."

Beyond Blue's lead clinical adviser, Dr Grant Blashki, said stressful events like droughts, floods and financial worries really took a toll on mental health well beyond the farm gate.

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"If farmers are under pressure they can struggle to afford things like feed and equipment, that puts pressure on service industries down the line."

Beyond Blue's Support Service offers free contact with counsellors by phone, webchat or email.

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Agribusiness buzz in brief

Local cider recognised 

Cider Australia has been selected as a finalist in the Food and Beverage Industry Awards 2019 for its world-first "100 per cent Australian grown" cider trust mark.

The trust mark, launched last October, helps consumers identify ciders made with all-Australian grown fruit, and has been recognised in the 'Paddock to Plate' award category.

The industry-led trust mark - backed by the Australian Government's $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package - is part of Cider Australia's campaign to market craft cider overseas and establish export markets for cider brands.

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About 50 producers have registered to use the trust mark since its launch.

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ANZ regional renewal grants

Grants of up to $15,000 will be available to not-for-profit organisations across rural Australia through the ANZ Banking Group's Seeds of Renewal program, which funds initiatives to help build vibrant, sustainable rural communities.

Established in 2003 and administered by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR), the Seeds of Renewal program has invested $4.8 million in more than 800 community groups to support local projects that promote prosperity of regional Australia.

In 2019, the ANZ Seeds of Renewal program is offering a share of $250,000 to organisations in regional locations for projects that improve environmental sustainability, financial wellbeing and literacy and housing access

Lenovo, ANZ's technology partner, has again donated devices totalling $20,000 to eligible community projects, in lieu of cash grants.

The grants and Lenovo devices are available to not-for-profit, community-based organisations operating in regional communities of 15,000 people or less.

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Applications close on August 6.

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Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

National agribusiness writer

Andrew Marshall is the group agribusiness writer for ACM's state agricultural weeklies and websites. He is a former editor at The Land and has worked in various Rural Press group roles in Canberra, North Richmond (NSW) and Toowoomba (Qld).

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