AUSTRALIA’S fodder industry needed to focus on producing better products year-round for livestock producers, according to the sector’s new leader.
Improving farmers’ knowledge of hay quality and the value it brings to Australian agriculture is a priority for the new Australian Fodder Industry Association chair Brad Griffiths.
The South Australian farmer took the reins of the national organization representing the hay, silage and straw supply industry last week, replacing NSW farmer and agronomist Frank McRae.
Mr Griffiths wants to grow the profile of the fodder industry among buyers and producers to show its role as a useful commodity, regardless of seasonal conditions.
He said there was potential to increase the production of quality fodder to service the lamb and beef lot-feeding sector.
“As fodder growers, we don’t want to be looking towards the next drought to demonstrate the value of our product,” he said.
“As an industry we are constantly working to improve the quality of our product and well-made hay, silage and straw enhances livestock operations and helps them manage risk.”
He said the profile of fodder needed to be lifted nation-wide to increase investment in quality crop production. He also wanted to make livestock producers more aware of what they were buying so “everyone is winning”.
Mr Griffiths expected a wet spring in most parts of the country will pose a challenge for fodder production this season, with growers and contractors keen to make the most of any dry weather windows. Yields expectations are high, but the flush of spring growth and low national livestock numbers has halted fodder demand.
Mr Griffiths said this lack of market liquidity meant it was hard to accurately gauge fodder prices and that’s why AFIA’s Hay Report has been such an important business tool for members.
“The report is available nearly every week – distributed to all AFIA members – and it covers prices right throughout the country,” he said.
“If anything happens in the hay market, it’s captured in the report as it includes price ranges, market and seasonal commentary.”
Mr Griffiths farms at Mallala in South Australia, in a family business that focuses on cropping, domestic and export hay production. He’s been an AFIA board member for two years.
The export hay industry is vital to Australian hay production, growing to more than 1.2 million tonnes a year and Mr Griffiths said AFIA was committed to assisting the development of this market which has expanded considerably in the past five years.
Outgoing chair and AFIA board director Frank McRae said Brad’s experience in the fodder supply chain, including growing, contracting and transport, would be invaluable to the leadership of AFIA.
“It is great to see younger industry participants taking on these leadership positions.
“They are going to guide the industry into its next phase and I’m looking forward to robust discussions around the board table.”