A postcard from Beef Australia 2018 (Beef Week)

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This article was written by Sarah McCamley. 

Beef Week, held from 6-12 May, was not only a wonderful opportunity to see many facets of the Australian Beef Industry come together, but also to highlight some key opportunities and challenges facing the sector. M&A partner Rhys Casey and Projects partner Matthew Austin attended the conference that is held every three years in Rockhampton, Queensland. 

Key themes from this year's Beef Week include:

  • emerging opportunities regarding trade and investment (particularly foreign trade and investment) in the industry;
  • branding and the importance this plays in the supply chain;
  • innovation and how this is linked to sustainable agricultural practices;
  • the future of the industry and the importance of being adaptable to change; and
  • enterprises, performance, transport and investment in Northern Australia.

We've also picked out three key takeaways to discuss below:

Innovation in Ag is on the rise

Launched for the first time this year, 'Pitch in the Paddock', was exceptionally well attended. The event, designed to showcase some emerging ideas from entrepreneurs in the industry, was a wonderful addition to the program, particularly given the innovation and growth in the 'Ag Tech Space' we are seeing at present. 

Eight finalists were chosen to present their ideas. These included inventions and ideas that ranged from new age probiotics that will allow operations to cut the use of antibiotics in the feedlot industry, to watering systems that will check water levels and turn water devices on and off to respond to those levels, to apps designed to promote movement in regional areas. ProAgni, who pitched a probiotic additive, was the winner of the competition.   

International Connections

KWM's Food & Agribusiness team participated in the Handshakes Program, which is a business matching program and provides an opportunity for international businesses to meet Australian enterprises and deal makers within the beef industry. It was evident from those we spoke to that the demand for quality Australian Beef remains very high with potential investors from Asia, South America, the Middle East and United States all focused on doing deals. Despite the overwhelming international interest in Australian Beef, it was apparent that investors require further guidance on managing Australian supply chain risks.

Changes in vegetation management laws, proved to be a hot topic

On 9 May 2018, in the middle of the Beef Week, the Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Act2018 (Qld) was assented to by the Queensland Government. This Act, along with the Vegetation Management (Clearing Codes) and Other Legislation Amendment Regulation 2018 and the Vegetation Management (Regional Ecosystems) Amendment Regulation 2018, now make up the new vegetation management regulatory framework in Queensland (Regulatory Framework). 

The Regulatory Framework largely reinstates the restrictive vegetation management controls repealed in 2013. It was no surprise that these new laws were certainly the topic of much conversation throughout the week with farmers concerned with the increased controls being placed on land use management practices.

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