28 Jan

Ag traineeships increasing

WHILE opportunities in trade apprenticeships have slowed in the mining sector, agricultural opportunities are increasing, said Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA, agrifood labour and skills consultant Jackie Jarvis.

“As vocational students have finished school there is a huge pressure for them to get into the right career,” she said.

“While some students hoped to get a trade in mining, most are not aware of the range of opportunities within agriculture.

“A certificate in agriculture is a good pathway and is the equivalent of getting a trade these days.”

Working with the Sheep Industry Leadership Council (SILC), Ms Jarvis has more than 15 employers in the industry wanting to take on a young trainee on farm.

“The sheep industry wants more young people entering the industry,” she said.

“In the past few years trades have pulled back on entrants, so there are not a lot of trade apprenticeships on offer, but there are opportunities in ag.

“We saw this opportunity and asked growers what skills they wanted, we then made sure we matched those skills to the Certificate III in Agriculture.

“I don’t think people understand a Certificate in Agriculture is basically run the same way as an apprenticeship.”

A Certificate III in Agriculture would take a trainee 12 months to complete, working on farm and attending TAFE.

Following the completion of this certificate, the following year trainees can complete a Certificate IV in Agriculture, which is a pathway to university.

“At 15, if your child decided they didn’t want to go to university when they finish school, after two years of working they would have a pathway to university, which gives them options,” Ms Jarvis said.

“This pathway is a nationally recognised qualification.”

Ms Jarvis said even if you worked in beef and wanted to work with sheep, the skills were transferable.

“It’s not a dead-end farm hand job,” she said.

“Essentially it can open doors to a range of opportunities in ag.

“Once upon a time you didn’t need a certificate, but these days everyone wants to know what your formal qualifications are, so this is a way of formalising what you learn on the job.

“It is also great for gap years, to train in the beef sector or the grains industry to learn more skills.”

Marcus and Shannon Sounness have been using this program for the past eight months and were impressed with the number of applicants and their enthusiasm.

Mr and Mrs Sounness run 3000 hectares of mixed cropping and 3000 breeding ewes in Amelup.

Mr Sounness previously used contractors, casuals and backpackers on farm before hiring 18-year-old Rebecca Waters.

He said he opted for a full-time trainee, due to the high turn over in the business.

“You could get some good ones, but there were always employees that were not really that interested,” he said.

“Having someone full-time was a transition, but if you are willing to train them and put in the time it is worth it.

“We hired Rebecca in February, she travelled from NSW to work for us.

“She had no cropping or machinery experience, but had stock experience as she comes from the cattle industry.”

Ms Waters is studying an Advanced Diploma in Agriculture via distance learning and plans to continue her studies in agriculture through a three year university degree at the University of New England.

“I wanted to do something different than just go up North,” she said.

“It is a good experience plus it is a good thing to put on my resume.

“I have been learning the office work, getting an understanding of the planning and farm management side of work, operating the machinery as well as learning the mechanical side.”

Ms Waters said through this experience she had developed an interest in later pursuing a rural consultancy or property planning and agronomy role.

“After being here I have even considered managing a farm,” she said.

“My dad didn’t want me to get into agriculture at first, because they had such a hard

time over east and didn’t want that for us.

“But now they see how happy I am, so mum and dad support me.

“I would recommend this role to any school leaver studying at an agricultural school or not.

“It gives you independence, good work ethics and there is a good community spirit in the country to get out and socialise and play sports.”

Mr Sounness said the experience has been rewarding from a business point of view.

“We are supporting her, and mentor her through her studies,” he said.

“I recommend farmers look into traineeships and put some work into their recruitment process.

“For us, we put the work in and we have picked up a fantastic young woman who we are proud to have on board.

“If she goes on to bigger things, then at least we have made a contribution to the industry.

“This is a more sustainable way for industry, I would rather put my time into training someone who is interested and wants to learn.”

p For information or to register for a traineeship visit www.skillsroad.com.au/ home or contact Jackie Jarvis at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry on (08) 9365 7670 or email Jackie.Jarvis@cciwa.com.

Jacinta Bolsenbroek, Stock & Land

SOURCE: http://www.stockandland.com.au/story/3421071/ag-traineeships-increasing/?cs=4584

28 Jan

Australia Day lamb ad attracts dozens of complaints

It has clocked up over 1.46 million views on YouTube since it was uploaded earlier this month and has gone viral on social media, but not everyone is happy with the latest lamb ad from Meat and Livestock Australia.

The ad features SBS newsreader and social media sensation Lee Lin Chin as she masterminds a plan to bring Australians home for Australia Day so they can eat lamb.

However, one particular scene has already been the subject of dozens of complaints.

It shows a team of special agents breaking into a New York apartment and using a blow torch on a table when the occupant protests that he is vegan.

Andrew Howie from Meat and Livestock Australia defended the scene, saying it was a bit of fun.

“The torching is metaphorical towards the kale in the bowl (on the table),” he said.

“It’s in no way intended to be abusive or violent … what we are trying to do is increase lamb sales over the period.”

The majority of complainants have taken issue with the treatment of vegans, but Fiona Jolly from the Advertising Standards Bureau said that element of the scene is not against the rules.

“What we have to do is look at complaints against the Advertiser Code of Ethics, and the Code of Ethics doesn’t really have lifestyle choice or eating preferences as an issue that we will look at as being discriminatory or vilifying.”

But she said the board would review other complaints which argued that the use of a blow-torch was an act of violence, and had no place in food advertising.

“Ads cannot contain violence unless it’s relevant to the service or the product being advertised,” she explained.

“Most complaints that we get about violence concern things such as ads for horror movies or violent computer games, and for those type of products, showing some violence from games is relevant, and so generally those type of ads won’t be banned,” she said.

“But there is no place for violence in an ad unless it’s relevant to the product, so what the board has to look at is the part of the ad complained about — is it actually violent?”

She said the board could decide to pull the ad, or force it to be edited, if it found it had breached the rules.

Meat and Livestock Australia said the ad was supposed to be irreverent.

Every year Meat and Livestock Australia launches its controversial advertising campaign encouraging people to eat more lamb.

In the past so-called “lambassador” Sam Kekovich has taken aim at vegetarians by calling them “soap-avoiding”, “pot-smoking” and “un-Australian”.

Ms Jolly said the Advertising Standards Bureau was not surprised to receive complaints again this year.

“We basically run our operations in January to be prepared for a barrage of complaints whenever Australia Day is approaching,” she said.

“MLA’s standard approach now is to put out a controversial, provocative, attention-seeking ad, so we have been expecting complaints.”

The latest lamb ad cost $1.2 million to make and will run up until January 26.

Meat and Livestock Australia said there was a 35 per cent increase in lamb sales in the lead up to last Australia Day and it hoped to exceed that number in the coming weeks.

What do lamb producers think of the campaign?

Livestock producer Anna Robson, who was at the Dubbo sheep and lamb sales, also spent some time previously as a project manager in the advertising industry.

She said the advertisement was clever and engaging and she could not see any need for actual livestock to be featured.

“It’s aimed at an urban audience [and] they are becoming increasingly disengaged from the source of their food,” Ms Robson said.

“The people here at the saleyards are going to be able to judge a good product on the hoof; the city audience is something completely different.

“I think this ad is interesting, using Lee Lin Chin.

“They’re obviously bringing home the message of what good meat we have in Australia, and how we can forget that until we go overseas.”

Agent David Armitage knows the business of selling stock but this sort of advertising campaign is clearly different to the tractional saleyard approach.

“As agents, we tend not to get involved in the politics of Meat and Livestock’s marketing,” he said.

“I think it’s an interesting ad, and it is certainly appealing to a very broad audience.

“I think the plan is to appeal to as broad an audience as possible, across Australia.”

More than one way to sell a lamb

Not all lamb producers send their stock to the livestock saleyards.

Kate Davies from Coonabarabran sells lambs through the Tooraweenah Prime Lamb group, so she does not rely on the vagaries of saleyard prices.

She said the campaigns were good value for money for lamb producers.

“I think they’re downright entertaining and I love the idea that they are promoting a lamb-based Australia Day culture,” Ms Davies said.

“Lamb sales skyrocket over summer; it actually gets pretty expensive around Australia Day.”

Ms Davies said she thought the industry should be pleased with the results the campaigns had delivered in previous years as well.

“Over time, lamb prices for us have soared; prices ten years ago would have been maybe two dollars a kilo cheaper,” she said.

YOUTUBE: Australia Day Lamb advertisement 2016

SOURCE: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-11/vegans-lodge-complaints-over-lamb-ad/7081706 AND http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-13/australia-day-lamb-ad-are-producers-getting-the-chop/7085878

28 Jan

How company culture shapes employee motivation

In a recent strategy meeting we attended with the leaders of a Fortune-500 company, the word “culture” came up 27 times in 90 minutes. Business leaders believe a strong organizational culture is critical to success, yet culture tends to feel like some magic force that few know how to control. So most executives manage it according to their intuition.

We’ve found that answering three questions can help transform culture from a mystery to a science: 1) How does culture drive performance? 2) What is culture worth? 3) What processes in an organization affect culture? In this article, we address each of these to show how leaders can engineer high-performing organizational cultures — and measure their impact on the bottom line.

How does culture drive performance?

After surveying over 20,000 workers around the world, analyzing 50 major companies, conducting scores of experiments, and scouring the landscape of academic research in a range of disciplines, we came to one conclusion: Why we work determines how well we work.

One 2013 study illustrates this well. Researchers asked almost 2,500 workers to analyze medical images for “objects of interest.” They told one group that the work would be discarded; they told the other group that the objects were “cancerous tumor cells.” The workers were paid per image analyzed. The latter group, or “meaning” group, spent more time on each image, earning 10% less, on average, than the “discard” group — but the quality of their work was higher. Reshaping the workers’ motive resulted in better performance.

Academics have studied why people work for nearly a century, but a major breakthrough happened in the 1980s when professors Edward Deci and Richard Ryan from the University of Rochester distinguished the six main reasons why people work. We built on their framework and adapted it for the modern workplace. The six main reasons people work are: play, purpose, potential, emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia.

The work of many researchers has found that the first three motives tend to increase performance, while the latter three hurt it. We found that the companies most famous for their cultures — from Southwest Airlines to Trader Joe’s — maximize the good motives, while minimizing the bad ones.

  • Play is when you are motivated by the work itself. You work because you enjoy it. A teacher at play enjoys the core activities of teaching — creating lesson plans, grading tests, or problem solving how to break through to each student. Play is our learning instinct, and it’s tied to curiosity, experimentation, and exploring challenging problems.
  • Purpose is when the direct outcome of the work fits your identity. You work because you value the work’s impact. For example, a teacher driven by purpose values or identifies with the goal of educating and empowering children.
  • Potential is when the outcome of the work benefits your identity. In other words, the work enhances your potential. For example, a teacher with potential may be doing his job because he eventually wants to become a principal.

Since these three motives are directly connected to the work itself in some way, you can think of them as direct motives. They will improve performance to different degrees. Indirect motives, however, tend to reduce it.

  • Emotional pressure is when you work because some external force threatens your identity. If you’ve ever used guilt to compel a loved one to do something, you’ve inflicted emotional pressure. Fear, peer pressure, and shame are all forms of emotional pressure. When you do something to avoid disappointing yourself or others, you’re acting on emotional pressure. This motive is completely separate from the work itself.
  • Economic pressure is when an external force makes you work. You work to gain a reward or avoid a punishment. Now the motive is not only separate from the work itself, it is also separate from your identity.
  • Finally, inertia is when the motive is so far removed from the work and your identity that you can’t identify why you’re working. When you ask someone why they are doing their work, and they say, “I don’t know; I’m doing it because I did it yesterday and the day before,” that signals inertia. It is still a motive because you’re still actually doing the activity, you just can’t explain why.

These indirect motives tend to reduce performance because you’re no longer thinking about the work—you’re thinking about the disappointment, or the reward, or why you’re bothering to do it at all. You’re distracted, and you might not even care about the work itself or the quality of the outcome.

We found that a high-performing culture maximizes the play, purpose, and potential felt by its people, and minimizes the emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia. This is known as creating total motivation (ToMo).

Take, for example, an experiment conducted by Teresa Amabile at Harvard. She assembled a group of poets to write a simple short poem on the topic of laughter. Before they wrote anything, she had one group read a list of “play” reasons for being a poet (“you enjoy the opportunity for self-expression” or “you like to play with words”), and she had the other group read a list of emotional and economic pressure reasons (“you want your writing teachers to be favorably impressed with your writing talent” or “you have heard of cases where one bestselling novel or collection of poems has made the author financially secure”). She found that the play group created poems that were later deemed about 26% more creative than the poems of the pressure group. The play group’s higher total motivation made a difference when it came to performance.

What is culture worth?

Creating a business case for culture isn’t impossible. While it is difficult to measure whether someone is being creative, proactive, or resilient in the moment, it’s actually not difficult to calculate total motivation. Using six questions, one for each motive, we can compute an organization’s ToMo using very simple math (see the sidebar for the calculation) and then determine its impact on performance.

Take for example the airline industry. Players share the same terminals and use the same planes, but customer satisfaction differs widely across carriers. When we measured the total motivation of employees of four major airlines, and compared their cultures with an outcome like customer satisfaction (as measured by the ACSI / University of Michigan), we saw that an organization’s culture (as measured by ToMo) tightly predicted customer satisfaction.


In other words, cultures that inspired more play, purpose, and potential, and less emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia, produced better customer outcomes. We saw this play out in retail, banking, telecommunications, and the fast food industry as well. And the impact isn’t limited to customer satisfaction. In one hedge fund, the highest performing portfolio managers had higher total motivation. And in one retail organization we worked with, we found that the difference between a low-ToMo and high-ToMo sales associate was 30% in revenues.

What processes in an organization affect culture?

We have asked thousands of managers how they would define a high-performing culture. Most don’t have a great definition. So here is one: Culture is the set of processes in an organization that affects the total motivation of its people. In a high-performing culture, those processes maximize total motivation. When we measured how different processes affect employees’ total motivation, we learned a couple things:

There is no silver bullet. Many processes affect people’s ToMo at work. By surveying thousands of US workers, we measured how much the elements of a workplace — from how a job is designed to how performance is reviewed — affect ToMo.


What the chart shows is that while we tend to think that leadership matters most to motivation, other processes can have an even bigger impact. The x-axis shows the ToMo scale (which goes from -100 to 100). The grey bars represent the range to which each process affects an employee’s total motivation, as gathered from survey responses. For example, how a role is designed can swing total motivation by 87 points. A badly designed role results in ToMo scores as low as almost -40, whereas a well designed role can result in a ToMo as high as almost 50. That’s huge, given that in many industries, the most-admired cultures tend to have 15 points higher ToMo than their peers.

Some companies make special efforts to design a highly motivating role. Toyota encourages play by giving factory workers the opportunity to come up with and test new tools and ideas on the assembly line. W. L. Gore & Associates gives people free time and resources to develop new ideas. And Southwest Airlines encourages their people to treat each customer interaction as play — perhaps you’ve seen how some flight attendants have turned boring safety announcements into comedy sketches.

The next most sensitive element is the identity of an organization, which includes its mission and behavioral code. For example, Medtronic enables its engineers and technicians to see the medical devices they’ve made in action, so that they can see the purpose of their work. The Chief Talent Officer at UCB Pharmaceuticals told us how he recently started inviting patients to executive meetings, so the people making decisions can see how their work makes a difference. And a Walmart executive told us that he kicked off management meetings by reviewing how much money his division had saved customers—rather than how much money Walmart had made.

The third most sensitive element is the career ladder in an organization. Recently, many companies have concluded that their system of evaluating their people, which drives the promotion process, tends to destroy performance. Systems where employees are stack-ranked or rated against each other will increase emotional and economic pressure, reducing total motivation and thus performance. As a result, companies from Microsoft to Lear are moving away from performance review systems that foster unhealthy competition.

Culture is an ecosystem. The elements of culture interact with and reinforce each other. One example is sales commissions. In general, we found that having a sales commission decreases the ToMo of an individual. However, if that individual also believes that their work materially helps their customers, the commission increases their ToMo. This makes sense through the lens of total motivation: if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, the commission becomes your motive. That’s low-ToMo. If you do believe in what you’re doing, the commission is gravy. It may even help you track your progress, increasing play. That’s high-ToMo.

What leaders can do

Looking at all these processes together, it’s clear that culture is the operating system of an organization. Senior leaders can build and maintain a high-performing culture by teaching managers to lead in highly motivating ways. For example, one study of bank branch managers showed that offering high-ToMo leadership training led to a 20% increase in credit card sales and a 47% increase in personal loan sales. CEOs should make a business case for culture (with a budget) and enlist HR and business leaders to improve the elements that affect culture, from role design to performance reviews.

Even without redesigning processes, however, team leaders can start improving the total motivation of their employees by:

  1. Holding a reflection huddle with your team once a week. Teams we’ve worked with hold an hour-long huddle once a week in which each person answers three questions directed at encouraging: 1) Play: What did I learn this week? 2) Purpose: What impact did I have this week? And 3) Potential: What do I want to learn next week?
  2. Explaining the why behind the work of your team. One executive at a retail store told us she often introduced a new project by saying, “We have to do this because Linda [the boss] asked for it.” This was motivating through emotional pressure, which was hurting her team’s performance. So she started explaining why a project would help the customer instead.
  3. Considering how you’ve designed your team’s roles. Does everyone have a space to play? Think about where people should be free to experiment and make that clear. For example, a Starbucks manager told us that he lets each employee experiment with how they connect to each customer, and a bank manager we worked with said he encourages people to suggest process improvements. Then ask if everyone has the opportunity to witness the impact of their work, and think about what might help them build a stronger purpose. Finally, find out where each team member would like to be in two years — and come up with a plan to help their reach their potential.

A great culture is not easy to build — it’s why high performing cultures are such a powerful competitive advantage. Yet organizations that build great cultures are able to meet the demands of the fast-paced, customer-centric, digital world we live in. More and more organizations are beginning to realize that culture can’t be left to chance. Leaders have to treat culture building as an engineering discipline, not a magical one.

Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi, Harvard Business Review

SOURCE: https://hbr.org/2015/11/how-company-culture-shapes-employee-motivation#

28 Jan

What are the hot jobs for 2016?

Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor … What are the most in-demand jobs for 2016? None of those for a start.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveals that admin and support services roles have been growing continuously since November 2014, with 36,000 new jobs brought into the market. These kinds of jobs are a positive sign that businesses are throwing their weight into new and upcoming projects, says Andrew Morris, director of recruitment firm Robert Half.

Turning to recruitment website SEEK, the e-commerce and construction sectors are buoyant and will remain strong in 2016. SEEK analysed job ads from the past 12 months to predict the roles that are likely to experience the largest growth in volume (number of job ads placed) and demand (job ads growing faster than applications) this year. At the top of their list are front-end programmers, with demand for this role growing by 22 per cent in the past 12 months and currently outstripping supply. Presumably, the pay for their skills makes up for the fact they are saddled with one of the ugliest job titles in the job market with the exception of a back-end programmer.

Rather gratifyingly, the second job experiencing the biggest growth goes back to biblical times. Carpenters are big right now, and it’s safe to say that Joseph, if he were alive today, would have no trouble finding room at the inn – in fact, he’d probably be there to do some renovation work. Carpenters have experienced a 40 per cent year-on-year growth thanks to the construction industry and real estate market, which is fuelled primarily by an ongoing surge in apartment and residential complex builds.

The real estate boom is also behind the demand for site managers, who come in at number three in SEEK’s table. While there has been a steady decline for these positions in the mining and resources industry, demand for site managers as a whole has been buoyed by prolific urban construction of residential and non-residential buildings.

Another good sign of business confidence is the appearance of account managers on the growth list. Sophisticated sales professionals are in demand, as there will always be a place for people who can demonstrate commercial acumen, and articulate the value and return on investment of the solutions they are selling in order to acquire and nurture clients.

Being forewarned is forearmed, so if you are student considering embarking on a university degree in the near future – or a parent of one – David Cvetkovski from Fusion Graduate Consultancy has some knowledge. Unsurprisingly, commerce degrees, particularly those with a legal component, are highly sought after right now. The HR specialist says bachelors of commerce with majors in business and a sub-major in management, economics, finance or accounting are always very popular degrees with employers.

Technology degrees such as computer science and information technology are in demand as well, with female students especially well placed after graduation as companies seek to make themselves more diverse and inclusive. Cvetkovski told the Huffington Post: “Females in technology are probably the most sought after candidate in the Asia Pacific at the moment. Computer science or bachelor of information technology are the most employable.”

Last but not least, an HR or psychology degree is another good choice, says Cvetkovski, particularly if you’re a man. “I run an assessment centre for HR and if I’ve got 20 candidates in there, all of them 25-years-of-age, there’s often only one bloke. So if he’s any chop he’s going to get the job.”

Amanda Woodard, HRM Online

SOURCE: http://www.hrmonline.com.au/section/featured/what-are-the-hot-jobs-for-2016/

22 Dec

Fear of taking annual leave affects 2/3 of Australians

It’s a joke, right? Who wouldn’t want to take a break?

A surprising number of people, it turns out.

FOTAL – Fear Of Taking Annual Leave – is a thing.

A new survey of 1250 Australians found that two-thirds suffered from FOTAL and didn’t use all their leave because the build-up of work from being away created too much stress.

This isn’t even counting poor parents who are stressing about days away from work to care for sick kids.

More than three quarters of respondents (78 per cent) had guilt about taking a break while 67 per cent said they did at least a little work on their holiday.

The odd email or work call on a break is normal isn’t it? This is why we consciously choose places without mobile reception, surely?

But this is missing the point.

Technology has given many of us flexibility at work, which can be freedom from the shackles of the desk and the nine to five. But it can also result in work that spills well into our private lives and any attempt at a holiday.

FOTAL isn’t a clinical diagnosis, says Suzy Green, founder of the Positivity Institute, but it is common.

“I run a lot of workshops in the work place and I see it,” Green says of the FOTAL findings from the Princess Cruises National Relaxation survey.

“When you come back you have to deal with your inbox or in-tray. One to two days – or earlier – before you come back, you start thinking about it. You can’t even enjoy your holiday.”

The inability to switch off and enjoy downtime is particularly problematic considering 35 per cent of Australians are reporting significant levels of stress, according to the latest Australian Psychological Society Stress and Wellbeing survey.

Green notes that as well as the build-up of work while you’re away, knowing that the workload will fall onto colleagues can cause stress, as can a fear that your job will be taken if you take leave.

Understandable as it may be, Green says we have to realise that for productivity and work satisfaction, we need to be able to stop.

“The downtime is really important,” she emphasises. “You cannot sustain it without breaks. Even elite athletes need breaks.”

Those who run their own businesses find it a particular challenge, Green says. “It’s their livelihood.”

“I think you have to be realistic,” she adds. “Set boundaries around checking your emails and social media – check only once or twice a day.

“Try and proactively plan ahead so you’re really clear on how you want your holiday to be.”

This means realising that just having your phone nearby, without even checking it or having it facing up, interferes with interpersonal connection.

Having mindfulness – bringing your attention back into the here and now – rather than letting it drift into another place – your phone or work, for instance – can help keep you calm and enjoying where you are, Green says.

Life coach and author of How to Invest Your Time Like Money, Elizabeth Grace Saunders, also suggests setting aside several days before you leave to tie up loose ends.

“Reserve at least the first day that you’re back in the office to get your head back into work and clear out your inboxes,” she advises. “It’s the office equivalent of getting your suitcases unpacked and your home back in order promptly instead of staying half unpacked for days or weeks on end …

“Finally, instead of focusing on the fact that you’re no longer on vacation, think about how grateful you are for the time you had away. Gratitude creates joy that can carry you through the initial shock of going back to ‘real life’.”

Green says it’s one thing to know how important switching off and planning is, it’s another to put that knowledge into action.

“It’s your life you’re talking about – your wellbeing and health and your relationships.”

Sarah Berry, Sydney Morning Herald

SOURCE: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/fear-of-taking-annual-leave-affects-twothirds-of-australians-work-stress-survey-20151123-gl6870.html

22 Dec

Crowd-funding bid to keep Kidman land Australian-owned

A $410 million crowdfunding campaign is being pitched to self-managed super fund investors in a bid to keep S Kidman and Co, the country’s largest landholder, majority Australian owned.

Self-described “fractional property investing platform” DomaCom has structured the proposed deal based on a valuation of $400 million to $410 million. That would provide a $30 million to $40 million sweetener to vendors the Kidman family, compared with the reported $360 million to $370 million Chinese bid that was blocked last month when Treasurer Scott Morrison ruled the sale was not in the national interest.

The 101,000-square-kilometre cattle property, which represents 2.5 per cent of the nation’s agricultural land, encompasses the Department of Defence’s prohibited area at Woomera in northern South Australia used for top secret weapons testing.

Professional services firm EY, which is acting on behalf of S Kidman and Co in the sale process, is still in negotiation with Chinese suitors and is expected to come back with a revised deal for the sale of part of the property.

“The Kidman family should not feel rushed into accepting an offer from China when this alternative is on the table that would give them a better price, allow individual family members to retain a stake if they wanted to, and better protect the national interests in terms of both national and food security,” DomaCom chief executive Arthur Naoumidis said.

Stephen Burgin (pictured), a senior adviser with the InterPrac dealer group of financial planners, spearheaded the idea of using DomaCom to crowdfund the rival bid to get retail investors in on the biggest land sale deal in the nation’s history. Mr Burgin is also a seventh generation pastoralist whose family runs 22,500 acres in western Victoria.

“There has been a lot of commentary about how Australia needs foreign investment, but we don’t, we’ve got $2 trillion locked up in super,” he said.

Mr Naoumidis expects the offer will illicit a strong response based on both its “emotional” and financial appeal.

“SMSF investors have well over $130 billion sitting in cash earning 2 per cent or less, so the chance to deploy some of that into a strategic asset like Kidman Station where they can earn an 8 to 9 per cent return is bound to be attractive,” he said.

The participating dealer groups, including ​InterPrac Spring Financial, GPS Wealth, and Doma Direct, will pitch the offer to more than 50,000 investors on Wednesday.

To get over the line it is estimated that at least 10,000 investors would need to subscribe, based on an average participation of about $35,000 each. The minimum subscription is $2500. Perpetual would act as trustee of a DomaCom sub fund that distributed holdings in the company.

S Kidman and Co includes 17 pastoral properties and three supporting properties in breeding, feedlot and cropping. It runs 185,000 head of cattle across Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Last year it generated a net profit of more than $50 million or around 15 per cent return on capital.

Sally Rose, Sydney Morning Herald

SOURCE: http://www.smh.com.au/business/domacom-launches-410-m-crowdfunding-campaign-for-kidman-station-20151208-glhzay.html

22 Dec

FTA boosts Aussie appeal to Chinese

AS farm sector businesses look to ramp up sales overseas, the feedback from China suggests the new free trade agreement (FTA) has significantly boosted Chinese attitudes to Australian business opportunities.

About 97 per cent of Chinese company officials interviewed in a blind study by the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) and the National Australia Bank (NAB) were “favourable” to doing business with Australians.

Australia rated as the most favoured country with which to conduct business according to the survey of 1000 Chinese business bosses.

Canada ran second (at 92pc), followed by Singapore, the UK, New Zealand and the US in sixth place.

The same executives regarded Australia (at 83pc) as the second most important nation to China economically, behind the US at 89pc.

In another unrelated study of 5000 NAB farm and agribusiness clients of all sizes, 42pc of those currently engaged in exporting expected business growth in the next three years, thanks largely to FTAs with China and other Asian neighbours, and the low Australian dollar.

Asia remained the top trade destination for 75pc of agribusinesses, followed by the Middle East (36pc) and Europe (32pc).

The bank noted farm sector businesses were increasingly sophisticated about their trade and export programs, with more customers seeking help with foreign currency strategies and looking to connect with potential overseas partners.

NAB agribusiness general manager, Khan Horne, told a Sydney trade and export forum agribusiness customers had grown more savvy about the risks and opportunities around exporting.

“Long gone are the days when exporting was viewed as something for the established players only,” Mr Horne said.

“We’re finding prospective exporters and those looking to expand their businesses are better informed on the practical side of trade and export.”

“Our bankers are referring ever higher volumes of queries to our Asia desk from businesses looking to fund growth and to build contacts in key export markets.”

He urged exporters and farmers to be confident and keep up their passion for building new market relationships, but to also keep in mind the need to diversify their export risk.

“It’s not just about East Asia. Look at the opportunities and performance of other countries such as the US and Middle East,” he said.

He also highlighted the need to be alert to the risks associated with getting paid and learning everything possible about the culture in export markets and the language.

NAB expected a declining Australian dollar to help drive agricultural export prices at least until the September quarter next year.

Last week’s the forum was told current NAB forecasts put the dollar at US70c by late 2016, lifting to US73c by the third quarter of 2017.

The ACRI report noted 73pc of the 580 Australian firms surveyed had an overall “favourable” to “very favourable” impression of China, but there were some notable concerns about doing business with Chinese firms with 16 rating their impression of China as unfavourable or very unfavourable.

Only half of the Australian businesses interviewed traded with China, compared with 90pc of the Chinese companies surveyed trading with Australia.

While 76pc of Chinese companies cited the China-Australia FTA as playing some role in their plans to focus more on Australia, back here only 35pc of companies attributed their intentions to this year’s deal to cut trade barriers.

Both Australian and Chinese firms identified manufacturing and wholesale trade as focal points for further engagement.

“It was very encouraging that they saw both the Chinese and Australian governments as being supportive of closer economic links,” said ACRI director and former NSW Premier, Bob Carr.

“I was struck by the strongly favourable attitudes of Chinese business leaders towards Australia.”

Andrew Marshall, Farm Weekly

SOURCE: http://www.farmweekly.com.au/news/agriculture/agribusiness/general-news/fta-boosts-aussie-appeal-to-chinese/2749362.aspx?storypage=0

22 Dec

Growing demand for food good news for SA

Cyclical drivers are currently favouring South Australia’s food sector, and this BankSA Trends report shows the longer term outlook is also positive.

With continued population growth, there will be growing demand for food from the domestic market, and demand for more health and premium foods as incomes rise and consumer preferences shift.

The opportunities in selling to Asia’s rising middle class are enormous, and they have been enhanced by recent Free Trade Agreements. South Australia’s meat producers and aquaculture industry are particularly well placed to tap into the rising demand for protein as incomes rise in this region.

However, while South Australia is positioned to capitalise on our well-earned reputation for quality produce, food producers cannot rest on their laurels.

This report highlights that a ‘dining boom’ for South Australia is by no means guaranteed. With access to these new emerging markets comes strong competition. There will need to be an expansion of the industry for the opportunities to be fully seized, while costs will need to be kept down, efficiencies realised and productivity increased.

As this edition mentions, and as previous issues of BankSA Trends have detailed, the South Australian economy is facing challenges. The cessation of the manufacturing operations of Holden will see the end of car manufacturing in this State, while defence manufacturing is slowing.

Unemployment is also on the rise, with the latest figures showing it is now the highest in the country.

Despite these challenges though, which can often be exaggerated, there are some positives to focus on.

We currently have the combination of lower interest rates and lower exchange rates delivering a powerful stimulus.

In addition, this State has opportunities ripe for the taking that will help to underpin our economic future. The potential of our premium food sector is one of these.

Not only is the food industry currently important to the South Australian economy, its future is exceptionally bright. This is an industry where businesses will be well positioned to take advantage of the downward shift in the Australian dollar and – longer term – sell into Asia’s emerging middle class, while also maximising opportunities domestically.

That’s why firms such as McKinsey and Deloitte have nominated agribusiness as one of the key drivers of growth opportunity for the Australian economy in coming decades. Of all the sectors in the Australian economy, agribusiness is seen as the sector with the strongest combination of being able to play to Australia’s competitive advantages as well as producing what the world increasingly wants.

The South Australian Government has nominated the export of premium food and wine as one of its top 10 economic priorities. As a result, a number of initiatives are being put in place to support the industry’s growth and to increase the international exports of food and wine from South Australia.

Accounting for just over 5% of the State’s output in 2013-14, agriculture alone is our sixth largest industry. Moreover, the food industry as a whole is larger than agriculture’s contribution to the economy because it also encompasses the manufacturing of food and beverage products.

Data from the 2011 Census shows that employment in food and beverage product manufacturing in South Australia accounted for around 19,500 workers, or about 25% of the total manufacturing workforce in South Australia. When we add employment in primary production – agriculture – of around 27,500 workers, a total of roughly 47,000 workers are employed in South Australia’s food industry, comprising about 6.5% of the State’s total workforce.

In comparison, data shows that direct employment in car and car parts manufacturing is around 6,500 jobs, while in defence manufacturing is around 5,200, indicating the food sector employs four times the number of those in car and defence manufacturing.

South Australia’s international exports of food and beverage have recorded strong growth in recent years, and amounted to $5 billion in 2014-15.

There will also be future opportunities in the Australian domestic market and in emerging markets. According to the South Australian Government’s Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA, interstate sales of food products from South Australia amounted to around $2.3 billion in 2013-14. In addition, the sale of food through retailers, restaurants and the like in South Australia was around $10 billion in 2013-14.

Looking to the future, Australia’s and South Australia’s population will grow, meaning increased food demands. Over the next decade there may be an additional 3.7 million mouths to feed in Australia, including 162,000 extra in South Australia.

While a growing Australian market presents an opportunity for food producers in South Australia, it is the global opportunities that may be the greatest.

Our abundance of agricultural land and our proximity to emerging Asian markets puts the food sector at the top of the list of industries where Australia has a comparative advantage. We know that a vision for Australia as the ‘food bowl of Asia’ has been on the horizon for at least two decades. Even so, with emerging Asia set to grow substantially over the years ahead, there will be plenty of opportunities for Australia to deliver more food to this region. Additionally, the size of the global middle class could increase from 1.8 billion people to 3.2 billion by 2020, and to 4.9 billion by 2030.

Almost all of this growth (85%) comes from Asia, and in terms of sheer numbers, is driven by China and India.

According to the Federal Government, Asia is expected to account for 71% of the growth in global food demand up to 2050. China is set to account for the largest share of that growth and already, export data indicates that South Australian producers are making significant inroads.

This Trends report asks where the greatest growth opportunities lie within the sector. Importantly, this analysis also goes beyond identifying the future global demand to consider the competitive advantages of Australian producers compared to our overseas counterparts.

South Australia has many opportunities for the taking however this does not mean that there won’t be challenges, but with strong opportunities for the local sector, there are plenty of rewards to be realised for South Australia.

Nick Reade, Chief Executive, BankSA

Trends: Premium food for thought, opportunities for SA in the Asian dining boom: https://www.banksa.com.au/content/dam/bsa/downloads/bsa-media-trends-dec-2015.pdf

22 Dec

Agriculture on the innovation agenda

THE Turnbull government’s $1.1 billion new national innovation and science agenda has included an agriculture and regional focus.

The ambitious new program was released last week by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne, at CSIRO in Canberra.

Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Warren Truss said the new innovation agenda included a range of initiatives to benefit industries, businesses and families in rural and regional areas, including program focused on research, education and business growth.

He said importantly, the agenda included initiatives to foster new start-ups, help businesses to grow and prepare young Australians for the opportunities of the future, wherever they might be located.

“We know that for every dollar that the government invests in rural R&D, farmers generate a $12 return within 10 years,” he said.

“With the global population growing rapidly and arable lands shrinking, Australian farmers and related businesses are uniquely placed to help fill the world’s food basket.

“As in all sectors of the economy, innovation and R&D play a vital role in increasing agricultural productivity and farmer profitability; those benefits flow through the whole of the regional economy and are fundamental to our national prosperity.”

Mr Truss said the Rural R&D for Profit program – an election commitment of the Coalition government – funded R&D projects which a focus on delivering cutting-edge technologies and making research outcomes accessible to primary producers.

He said Australia’s 15 rural research and development corporations were relied upon by industry and government to jointly fund R&D for agricultural industries to improve productivity, sustainability and product quality.

“The Australian government provides about $250 million each year to fund R&D through these corporations,” he said.

“This is in addition to ongoing agricultural research undertaken by other government-funded agencies, including Cooperative Research Centres and the CSIRO, and our universities.

“The new initiatives in the Innovation and Science Agenda build on this existing foundation to further support innovation in regional Australia, such as through the Entrepreneurs’ Programme and the Industry Growth Centres Initiative.”

Mr Truss said there were also new program and support designed to boost innovative activity and help businesses to break into global markets.

“New initiatives will also make it easier than ever to collaborate with universities, research institutions and government,” Mr Truss said.

“Modern digital technologies, so important in the regions for bridging the tyranny of distance, can enable regional, rural and remote Australians to get involved in new industries and job opportunities.

“The Australian government is investing in the industries of the future and emerging opportunities with these new initiatives and regional Australia’s growth and prosperity is front-and-centre in that thinking.”

The government’s statement on the new agenda for farming and rural communities said strong, vibrant, innovative and sustainable rural industries and communities were in Australia’s national interest.

“Farm production in 2013-14 was valued at $51 billion, with agriculture contributing to around 2 per cent of Australia’s GDP and 15 per cent of total Australian merchandise exports,” it said.

“As the mining construction boom moderates and the economy transitions the sector will need to continue to embrace innovation and adapt and grow.

The government said the new strategy would provide seed funding for collaborative science workshops with regional economies on shared challenges, like food and biosecurity.

It will also support Australian business and research consortia to work with their international counterparts.

“The Incubator Support Programme will focus on regions and sectors with high innovation potential such as those identified in a Science and Research Priority,” a statement said.

“Sharpening incentives for university engagement with research end users will ensure their efforts have tangible benefits for the agricultural sector.

“Further funding for regional universities will create more opportunities for our regions.”

Mr Turnbull said the government would invest $1.1 billion via the agenda to incentivise innovation and entrepreneurship, reward risk taking, and promote science, maths and computing in schools.

He said it would focus on four priority areas:

  • Culture and capital, to help businesses embrace risk and incentivise early stage investment in startups;
  • Collaboration, to increase the level of engagement between businesses, universities and the research sector to commercialise ideas and solve problems;
  • Talent and skills, to train Australian students for the jobs of the future and attract the world’s most innovative talent to Australia; and
  • Government as an exemplar, to lead by example in the way Government invests in and uses technology and data to deliver better quality services.

Colin Bettles, Farm Weekly

SOURCE: http://www.farmweekly.com.au/news/agriculture/agribusiness/general-news/ag-on-innovation-agenda/2749304.aspx


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