Agribusiness buzz in brief

Agribusiness buzz in brief


A quick look at what's happening and what some of the players are doing in agribusiness


Casella not for sale

The family behind wine's runaway export success brand, Yellow Tail, has rejected speculation about a potential sale of the business, although confirmed it has received approaches in the past.

Casella Family Brands has responded to commentary in the Australian Financial Review with a blunt assurance it had not commenced a sale process for the Griffith-based business.

A Casella statement said there had been strong speculative interest in the wine sector, driven by last year's $1 billion sale of Accolade Wines and the rumoured sale of the Pernod Ricard Wine assets.

It confirmed the Casella family had received approaches over an extended period of time from a range of investors.

However, the company was continuing to invest in the growth of its brand portfolio, which includes Yellow Tail, Peter Lehmann Wines, Brand's Laira, Morris Wines of Rutherglen and Baileys of Glenrowan.

The Casella business employs about 700 staff, buying grapes from around 500 growers, and is estimated to have an asset value of more than $500 million.

It exports 12.5 million cases of Yellow Tail to 50-plus countries.


Donation buys CEF office

A significant anonymous donation to the Country Education Foundation has enabled the not-for-profit student support body to buy its own offices at Orange in NSW.

The Hill Street base will allow the foundation to accommodate its own staff and lease some adjoining office space.

In 25 years the CEF has paid out more than $10 million to 5000 rural and regional students around Australia, helping them pursue higher education, training and career goals, via grants, scholarships, mentoring and personal support.

In the past year it raised $1.4m and paid an average $2443 in grants to 580 students - 85 more than in 2017-18.

Corporate sponsorships alone contributed $366,000 to the funding pool in 2018-19.


Coles pork push hits $520,000

Coles supermarkets and their pork suppliers have raised nearly $520,000 to fight motor neurone disease following a national campaign on pork sales.

The fundraising result for FightMND was a 57 per cent increase on a similar promotion last year, making Coles again the biggest corporate donor to the charity.

For nearly six weeks, Coles donated 10 cents from the sale of each pack of fresh pork at its 800-plus supermarkets, supported by donations from pig producers donating to the FightMND foundation.

Every day, at least two Australians die from MND, while another two are diagnosed with the debilitating illness.

FightMND chief executive officer, Jamie Howden, thanked Coles, its shoppers and pork producers for their generosity.

"The partnership between Coles, Australian Pork Limited, Aussie pork farmers and FightMND has gone from strength to strength this year," he said.


Regional aviation costs cut

Airservices Australia chief executive officer, Jason Harfield, has confirmed $170 million in efficiencies achieved following management changes within Airservices will give the organisation headroom to cut aviation charges for the first time, from July 1.

Regional Aviation Association of Australia CEO Mike Higgins has commended the "fantastic initiative and outcome" and recommend all government agencies follow Mr Harfield's example.

The RAAA represents aviation businesses Australia-wide who directly employ 2500 people, many in regional areas.

It's members jointly turnover more than $1.5 billion a year, transporting more than 2 million passengers and 23m kilograms of freight.


Southern Qld food flight goal

Sunshine Coast Airport has signed a partnership agreement with the Food and Agribusiness Network with the aim of boosting food exports from the southern Queensland region to national and international markets.

FAN is a food and agribusiness cluster, supporting the growth of the industry across the Sunshine Coast, Gympie, Noosa and Moreton Bay areas where more than 900 businesses operate in horticulture, dairy, seafood and food and beverage processing.

Agribusiness is expected to be one of the chief benefactors when a new extended runway is launched at the airport next year.

Plans are also afoot for a dedicated freight logistics centre.

The region's food industry, currently valued at $750 million annually, is expected to be worth $1 billion by 2022.


Cottoning on at Griffith

The biennial Australian Cotton Collective to be staged in southern NSW at Griffith on July 24 and 25 will host a series of informative speaker sessions, panel forums and a trade show.

Key guests presenting on water issues will include National Irrigators' Council chief executive officer, Steve Whan; Murray-Darling Basin Authority CEO, Phillip Glyde; Commonwealth Environmental Water Office assistant secretary, Hilton Taylor, and The Wentworth Group's Professor Jamie Pittock.

Director of the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University, Professor Mark Howden, will address the impact of climate change and how that relates to the cotton industry.

Other events include a district tour and welcoming reception, organised by the Southern Valleys Cotton Growers' Association, and a large trade show featuring displays from a range of industry stakeholders and suppliers.


Hehir is dairy chair

Victorian dairy farmer, Brendan Hehir from Wyuna, near Kyabram has been appointed to chair the Australian Dairy Conference programming committee for 2020.

Mr Hehir, who is a business partner with his parents in an organically certified dairy operation milking 550 cows, will oversee a team of dairy farmers, scientists and industry representatives to shape and form the issues most pertinent to the country's dairy industry.

A Nuffield scholar, he is no stranger to the ADC format and agenda, given his father, Terry, was a founding director and visionary with ADC more than 17 years ago.

A conference for farmers, run by farmers, the 2020 ADC will be in Melbourne on February 20 and 21.

"The Australian dairy industry at the moment really is in a climate of change," Mr Hehir said.

"There are many exiting the industry as pressures mount, and as dairy farmers we need to be more adaptable, more innovative and more sustainable in order to operate successfully."


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