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WA Pork Producers Poised to Face Tough Times

by 5m Editor
4 September 2008, at 12:08pm

AUSTRALIA - Vigorous debate, mainly centred on feeding for profit, highlighted a dynamic and productive series of meetings and forums held by WA Pork Producers’ Association (WAPPA) last Friday as part of its annual industry day, which encompasses an annual general meeting, general meeting and forum.


WAPPA’s 2008 AGM/GM/Forum preceded a dinner for 140 people.

Enjoying WAPPA’s 2008 industry day are Rick Fice of Wesfeeds, Daph Kavanagh of APL and Ron Penn of PPC.

Commenting at the annual industry dinner, attended by 140 people and which concluded 15 hours of discussion, debate and information exchange, retiring WAPPA President and Cuballing producer, Graeme Dent said WAPPA’s emphasis was now more on results and less on process and procedure.

“With input from members, Executive has adopted a no holds barred approach to tackling the issues that matter most to producers and we’ll solicit the services and views of the very best people to satisfy our needs and aspirations,” he said.

“Futher, we’ll challenge those in positions we believe can make a difference to our bottom lines.”

One such person challenged during Friday’s forum was Pork CRC CEO, Dr Roger Campbell, who was asked to outline what the Pork CRC, part funded by WA pork producers through fee for service contributions to the Agricultural Produce Commission, had achieved during its first three years.

Responding, a typically forthright Dr Campbell said producer margins could improve by as much as 25 cents/kg carcass weight, courtesy of outcomes from Pork CRC projects across its three programs.

“Last month, for example, we rigorously reviewed all programs to see where we’re at and, most importantly, to ensure producers continue to receive value for money and that our future investments will give producers the greatest returns,” he said.


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"As price takers, largely, pork producers can really only influence their bottom lines by reducing their costs and with grain costs rising, while still comprising maybe three quarters of our input costs, we continue to struggle."
WAPPA President and Cuballing producer, Graeme Dent

Dr Campbell added that from weaning to marketing, the greatest project returns had been in the finishing pig, in particular by lifting performance in its last four weeks.

“Several research projects showed that during this period, pigs can use as much as 40 per cent of the total feed used between weaning and marketing at 100-110 kg.

“Equally importantly, feed costs per kilogram of gain increase weekly in this period.

“This pig problem relates to declining feed efficiency with increasing weight and is worse for females.

“While the problem can be exacerbated by stresses such as temperature, the improvement window is large, simply because a 10 per cent improvement in feed efficiency during this period can improve total herd feed conversion by three to four per cent,” Dr Campbell explained.

Mr Dent said the focus of research and extension simply had to be at the production point where a difference could be made, as suggested by Dr Campbell. “As price takers, largely, pork producers can really only influence their bottom lines by reducing their costs and with grain costs rising, while still comprising maybe three quarters of our input costs, we continue to struggle.

“Tough decisions must be made now because grain prices are not going to come down,” Mr Dent warned.

“While we produce a top shelf fresh pork product, educating consumers to pay a premium, or at least to pay prices that match beef and lamb, is a real challenge.

“As farmers we must capture more of the consumer dollar or just pack up now and gift our industry to foreign suppliers, who’ve already made their intentions known.”

Speakers at WAPPA’s 2008 industry day included Dr Neil Gannon on feeding for profit, Bruce Edgerton of APL on bio-energy and climate change, Dr Trish Holyoake of the University of Sydney on peri-urban biosecurity and lessons from Denmark’s pork industry. www.wappa.com.au

5m Editor