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AFIA chief wants fodder database created

By Rodney Woods

The national fodder industry body has ramped-up calls for a market database to provide better insight into stocks and demand, as the growing need for livestock feed drains hay supplies.

Australian Fodder Industry Association chief executive John McKew said the recent bushfire crisis, coupled with ongoing drought, was depleting the low national fodder stocks — but a more accurate picture of the situation was required.

Mr McKew spoke about the need for reliable fodder information at the Bushfire Roundtable Meeting in Canberra recently, attended by agricultural industry organisations and hosted by Federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie.

“Industry representatives continually ask ‘how much fodder is in the system? Where is it going? How much is there in reserves?’," he said.

“Quantitatively — I don’t know. The industry doesn’t know.

“That information is not recorded for domestic fodder production and sales.

“What we know is qualitative information.

“But in times like this — drought and bushfire recovery — there needs to be more transparency in the market so Australian agriculture has the capacity to forecast feed requirements and plan.

“It is something everyone wants, it was mentioned by the grains industry, and there’s value across a lot of industries, but it is a hard nut to crack.”

Mr McKew said the need for better data was a theme of the discussions at the Canberra meeting.

While the roundtable was a first step in a long process, Mr McKew was buoyed by the agriculture department’s “sympathetic ear” regarding the database.

He hoped government involvement would provide the much-needed assistance and funding, which had previously been lacking, to develop a model to allow Australia’s agricultural industry to better manage seasonal risk.