AUSTRALIAN HONEY INDUSTRY
MONTHLY REVIEW

April 2003

All rights reserved This publication is copyright 


AUSTRALIAN HONEY BEE INDUSTRY COUNCIL
Suite 4, Level 6, 99 Elizabeth Street, Sydney NSW 2000 Telephone: 02 9221 0911
Mailing Address: PO Box R838, Royal Exchange NSW 1225 Facsimile: 02 9221 0922
Email Address: ahbic@honeybee.org.au Website: www.honeybee.org.au
ABN 63 939 614 424

Voluntary Contributors to AHBIC

AB's Honey

Leabrook / Spring Gully Pickles P/L

Australian Rain Forest Honey

R & E McDonald

Australian Honey Bee Improvement Programme

PB & CM McPherson

Australian Queen Bee Exporters

IJ & PA Oakley

Australian Sungold Queen Bees

RC & DJ Phillips Pty Ltd

Harold Ayton

Pollination Association of WA

Beechworth Honey

Queen-Bee-Ann Apiaries

Beeline Queens

R. Stephens

Boyd, Andrew and Margeurite

Redpath's Beekeeping Supplies

Bradbury, GN and DJ

Swan Settlers

Bush Honey

Superbee Honey Factory

Capilano Honey Limited

Stephen Targett

CE Mills

Tasmanian Crop Pollination Association

Chiltern Honey Farm

Tasmanian Honey Company

Crescent Honey

T & M Weatherhead

Crop Pollination Association Inc

Walkabout Apiaries

Dewar Apiaries

Warral Apiaries

Honey DownUnder

Weerona Apiaries

HL Hoskinson

Wescobee Limited

Hunter Valley Apiaries

Wolsinkel, Aris

Koonoomoo Apiaries

 

AHBIC acknowledges the beekeeper suppliers who contribute via their packer and queen bee supplier to AHBIC. We also urge beekeepers to support those packers/queen bee breeders who contribute to AHBIC.

Does your honey buyer’s or queen bee supplier’s name appear on this list?
If not, then ask ‘why not?’
SUPPORT THOSE WHO SUPPORT YOUR INDUSTRY!
All rights reserved. This publication is copyright and may not be resold or reproduced in any manner (except excerpts for bona fide study purposes in accordance with the Copyright Act) without the prior consent of the Publisher. Every effort has been made to ensure that this newsletter is free from error or omissions. However, the Publisher, or its respective employees or agents, shall not accept responsibility for injuries, loss or damage occasioned to any person acting or referring from action as a result of the material in this newsletter whether or not such injury, loss or damage is in any way due to any negligent act or omission, breach of duty or default on the part of the Publisher, or its respective employees or agents.
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Debate on European Policy on GM Foods – Ripe for Discussion

The following article has been extracted from The Economist, February 22, 2003, p.57 and is reproduced for educational purposes only. AHBIC acknowledges the source and copyright.

Labour’s environment minister has broken ranks on GM food

Mutant species behaving in uncontrollable ways, wrecking a delicate balance. That is how the green lobby sees genetically modified (GM) crops. But roughly the same descriptions applies to the situation developing inside the government, where the environment minister, Michael Meacher, has torn up the official line on the issue. In a new interview in the Ecologist, a green magazine, he casts strong doubt on the safety of GM foods and describes GM as ‘not necessary’.

That contrasts sharply with the government’s cautious ‘wait and see’ position, and in particular Tony Blair’s broadly proscience stance. Last year the prime minister said there was ‘no serious evidence of health risks’ in GM food.

It is not the first bit of unauthorised greenery by the idiosyncratic Mr Meacher, who enjoys a precarious governmental position as a semi-tolerated environmental dissident. In August, Mr Blair’s office even left him out of the official delegation to a big jamboree on green development in Johannesburg. It backed down only when environmental groups said they would pay his air fare there themselves. Mr Meacher described himself then as a ‘lone voice in the wilderness’ for the green cause in Whitehall.

But the new wobble comes as the government s deciding whether to lift the current moratorium on GM food in Britain and allow its commercialisation. Since the furore over ‘Frankenstein’ foods erupted in 1998, the authorities have commissioned several large studies to assess the scientific and economic evidence, as well as popular opinion, for or against a change in policy.

One big question is biodiversity; the effect of GM crops on butterflies, weeds and bugs. Three years ago, the government authorised more than 180 field trials across the country to compare the effects of one particular type of genetic modification – herbicide resistance – in sugar beet, maize and oilseed rape. After £5m-worth of experiments, the results are due for publication by the Royal Society in July. A separate science review, drawing on international evidence about broader questions such as the impact on the environment and food safety, will deliver a final report in the early autumn. A third investigation is an economic assessment of the costs and benefits to domestic farmers, retailers and consumers, as well as to developing countries, of Britain’s adopting or rejecting GM; the Cabinet Office, which is responsible for this work is scheduled to release its findings in June.

One useful bit of evidence that this could include is a paper published this week by Mike May, of Broom’s Barn Research Station in Suffolk, about gene technology in the sugar beet industry. Herbicide-resistant GM sugar beet could, he says, save British farmers £23m a year, mostly through reduced use of agrochemicals. That would, on paper at any rate, both boost profits and help the environment.

What effect such evidence may have on the population’s scepticism is another question. The government has also launched the pompously named GM Public Debate, charged with stimulating discussion beyond the narrow circle of activists and experts. This is scheduled to launch a series of local and national meetings in May, culminating in a report in September. Many of the questions which arise from these public sessions will be fed back to the other inquiries for answers.

The debate is in fact a low-budget affair and it will have its work cut out to raise much interest. Studies by Corr Willbourn, a market research firm, show that GM lags behind more pressing public concerns such as war with Iraq or football. For all the acres of newsprint devoted to GM at the height of the frenzy, Corr Willbourn found that most of the people surveyed confessed both to knowing very little about the issue and also to doubting that the government would take much notice of outsiders’ views.

Bot those dealing with the issue say that public attitudes have matured somewhat from the initial polemics and that the pile of new evidence will get a fair hearing in the coming months. John Pidgeon, director of Broom’s Barn Research Station, speaks of an ‘outbreak of common sense’. That would be worth cultivating – not least inside the greener nooks of the government.


Tax Incentives for Land Conservation

The Minister of the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp and the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, Senator Helen Coonan have jointly announced, on 20th February 2003, changes to the tax incentives for landowners who help conserve Australia’s environment through entering perpetual conservation covenants.

Tax incentives for land conservation will now apply to approved conservation covenants with government agencies (eg. State departments of parks and wildlife), entered into after 1 July 2002.

There will be two types of tax concession:-

  • an income tax deduction for any decrease in land value as a result of entering into a conservation covenant (provided the landowner receives no payment for entering into it); and

  • where a conservation covenant is entered into., CGT provisions will apply as if it were a sale or gift of the land. A capital gain will arise equal to the difference between the money and/or property received and the costs incurred in granting the covenant. If no money or property is received, a capital loss equal to the costs incurred in granting the covenant will arise. The CGT discount may now apply if the land has been owned for at least 12 months or the small business concessions may apply if the relevant conditions are satisfied.

The new tax deduction applies from 1 July 2002, whereas the new CGT provisions have been backdated to 15 June 2000 (where the landowner receives money or property for entering into the conservation covenant) in order to cover payments made under the Tasmanian Private Forest Reserve Program.

For landowners who do not receive any money or property for entering into a conservation covenant but are ineligible for the deduction, current CGT provisions ensure they are not disadvantaged.
Conservation covenant deduction

To qualify, a conservation covenant must:-

(a) be in perpetuity and, where possible, attached to the title of the land;
(b) be approved by the Minister for Environment and Heritage (either directly or through being part of an approved conservation covenant program);
(c) be valued at more than $5,000 or be attached to land acquired less than 12 months before the covenant was attached;
(d) be entered into with a deductible gift recipient.

A landowner will not be eligible for a deduction if they have received any money, property or other material benefit in return for entering into a conservation covenant. Landowners must have the decrease in market value of their land, and hence the amount of the deduction, determined by the Australian Valuation Office, any fee for which is tax deductible. Landowners may spread the value of the deduction over five years using the process outlined above.

Who can claim a deduction?

Any taxpayer (eg. An individual, trust or company) can claim a deduction for a donation of property and seek apportionment of tax deductions. However, other regulations such as company and trust laws/legislation may impact on the ability of an entity to make a donation of property.

What type of property can be donated?

Land, buildings, shares, vehicles, machinery etc valued at over $5,000 by the Commissioner of Taxation may be donated.

Eligible environmental bodies

An eligible environmental body is one that is on the Register of Environmental Organisations (the Register), allowing an environmental organisation to seek tax deductible donations.

For information visit the Register of Environmental Organisations at: http://www.ea.gov.au/pcd/ppu/reo/

How does it work?

The CGT changes recognise that, economically the landowner has suffered some loss in the value of his/her land by entering into the conservation covenant. Therefore, when determining the amount of capital gain from the grant of a conservation covenant, a portion of the cost base of the land will now be taken into account.

This treatment is equivalent to that applied to the sale of part or all of the land or, in some cases, the removal of trees from the land.

Environment Australia has developed guidelines and procedures for the approval of covenanting programs at: http://www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity/programs/covenanting/index.html


ABARE Forecasts

Last month saw the annual Outlook Conference held in Canberra. A summary of key forecasts for rural Australia and world economics made by the government ‘think-tank’ in Canberra are as follows:-

Economic Overview – Prospects for world economic recovery in 2003

• World economic growth is assumed to be 2.6 per cent in 2003, before strengthening to 3.3 per cent in 2004. Over the medium term (to 2008) world economic growth is assumed to average around 3.6 per cent a year.
• There are considerable downside risks to the outlook for global economic performance. Significantly higher oil prices, a sharp depreciation of the US dollar or further instability in world equity markets could adversely affect world economic growth markedly.
• Economic performance in Australia is assumed to remain relatively robust, with growth of 3.0 per cent in 2002-3, before strengthening to 3.8 per cent in 2003-4. The assumption for economic growth in 2002-3 is around 0.75 percentage points lower than it would otherwise have been because of the drought in Australia.

Commodity Outlook – Lower commodity export earnings in the short term.

• Earnings from Australia’s commodity exports are forecast to be around $87 billion in both 2002-3 and 2003-4, compared with $91 billion in 2001-2.
• Reflecting the adverse affect of the drought, the value of farm exports is forecast to decline by 13.5 per cent to around $27.1 billion in 2002-3 and then by 1.0 per cent to $26.8 billion in 2003-4.
• Export earnings from mineral resources are forecast to rise marginally to $56.2 billion in 2002-3 and $56.4 billion in 2003-4.

Agriculture Outlook to 2007-8 – Following a record year, drought hit hard in 2002-3

• Assuming that there is a good autumn break to the drought across much of the winter cropping and pastoral areas of Australia, there should be a dramatic improvement in the rural sector’s fortunes in 2003-4.
• Expanded crop plantings and greatly improved yields can be expected to result in a bounce back in grain grower incomes by late 2003. In the livestock industries, however, production will be lower in the short term as producers retain stock to rebuild depleted herds. As a result livestock incomes are not expected to rebound as quickly or as strongly as cropping incomes.

Further information may be gained by purchasing publications direct from ABARE at www.abareonlineshop.com


Video Offer – “The Mysterious Bee”

Mr Phil Simon of Nature Films has produced a documentary video about specific bee behaviour and this has been screened several times on the Network 7 programme ‘The World Around Us’. “The Mysterious Bee” won the prestigious ‘Best Newcomer to the Industry’ award at the British Wildscreen Documentary Film Festival and has also been shown in 20 countries worldwide including the BBC in England, most European countries, North and South America, New Zealand and Japan.

A special offer is being made to beekeeper associations to purchase the video at $32.00 each (normally $35.00) including packaging, handling and registered, insured postage within Australia, or $28.00 each for 3-5 copies.

If you would like more information or to place an order, please contact Mr Simon direct at:-

Phil Simon Nature Films, 7 Valleyview Drive Bellingen, NSW 2454
Phn: 02 6655 1501 Fax: 02 6655 1501 Email: psimon@midcoast.com.au


Animal Health Australia’s new CEO commences

The Chairman of Animal Health Australia, Dr Roly Nieper, today announced that Mr Ralph Hood has commenced as the new Chief Executive Officer, Animal Health Australia.

Mr Hood, who formerly managed the national Johne’s Disease Program for Animal Health Australia, was selected after an exhaustive selection process and has replaced Dr Geoff Neumann.

In announcing the appointment, Dr Nieper acknowledged the significant contribution Dr Neumann had made during his time with Animal Health Australia and made particular mention of his commitment to the successful finalisation of the landmark Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Response Agreement signed by industry and government last year, and in doing so wished Dr Neumann well in future endeavours.

With a revised strategic plan recently released, Dr Nieper commented that the coming months represented an exciting time for the Company and its Members. “There is no doubt that the current conditions within the livestock sector present some very specific challenges for both the Company and our Members and we feel confident that the appointment of Ralph and the specific skills set he brings to the position will greatly assist us in achieving our objectives”.

Ralph has a long association with the meat and livestock industries including senior positions in most of Australia’s major beef and sheepmeat markets. Through the 1980’s and 1990’s he was the Chief Executive based in each of the former Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation’s (AMLC) overseas operations including North America, Japan/Korea, Europe and the Middle East as well as senior positions in AMLC’s head office in Sydney.

Following the red meat industry restructuring in 1998 and the transition from the AMLC to Meat Livestock Australia (MLA) Ralph was appointed General Manager, Sheepmeat Industry Services. During the initial two year period of the MLA Ralph was involved in developing a wide range of strategic plans and new marketing initiatives for the meat and livestock export industries.

Dr Nieper concluded by thanking the Members of Animal Health Australia, fellow Directors, staff and executive for their commitment and professionalism during the transition phase.


ABN Information Available Online

The Tax Office has announced that as of 28th January 2003, the Australian Business Register will provide businesses with online access to their ABN details with the ability to make changes and ensure the accuracy of the information. Tax agents will also be able to access their clients’ ABN information to make the following changes:

• change ‘secure’ ABN information such as postal address and public officer and immediately see the change confirmed online; and
• add a PAYG or GST registration to an ABN record online and receive it by mail.


Statutory Levies for the Honey Bee Industry

The Levies Management Unit has reminded industry that the following statutory levies apply for the honey industry.

Total Rate of Levy on Honey: 1.6 cents per kg of honey
(imposed on honey produced in Aust and sold or used in the production of other goods) The 1.6cents/kg is split up as follows: Research and Development: 0.8 of a cent National Residue Survey (residue testing): 0.3 of a cent
Emergency Animal Disease Response (animal health, but this can also be used for plant health if required): 0.5 of a cent

Total Rate of Export Charge on Honey: 1.6 cents per kg of honey - same break-up as the levy (imposed on honey produced in Aust and then exported, but does not apply if levy has already been paid on that honey).


Honeybee R&D Advisory Committee Members

The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) is calling for applications from interested people to apply for positions on the Honeybee Research and Development Advisory Committee.

The committee consists of persons with a range of skills and experience in the research, production, processing and marketing sectors of industry together with a representative of the Corporation. The committee provides recommendations on the allocation of research and development contributions (comprising industry levies and Commonwealth matching) to the RIRDC Board.

The advisory committee is expected to consult with industry bodies and participants to evaluate the requirements for research and development, to prepare a research and development strategic plan for the industry which is reviewed annually and to monitor and evaluate the impact of research and development projects.

Applicants should note that RIRDC program committee guidelines generally preclude members of the executive of a national industry association from being a member of a RIRDC advisory committee. A joint industry/RIRDC selection process has been established to choose the committee members.

Written applications, outlining your skills and relevant experience, should be forwarded by 2nd May 2003 to:

Honeybee Program
Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation
PO Box 4776
KINGSTON ACT 2604

If you require further information about these positions or the Honeybee Program, please visit the RIRDC Honey Program web site (www.rirdc.gov.au/programs/hb.html) or phone the Honeybee Program Coordinator on 02 6272 3207


CROP, STOCK AND COMMITTEE REPORTS

Crop and Stock Report – New South Wales

With very little rain west of the ranges, prospects for next season are not looking bright. With good rains in most coastal areas, prospects there are much brighter than the inland area. If good rains fall in the rest of April and May, things will improve greatly. As stated before there are some patches of spotted gum on the south coast but nothing else to look forward to before spring.

Very little change in stocks with honey likely to be very short before spring.

Eddie Podmore

Crop Report – South Australia

Dry weather has continued since the last report, light showers in some areas being insignificant. Some of the germinated ground floras from the 19th February rain are still surviving but very stressed - opening seasonal rains would be welcome and vital for ground flora germination for spring build up. Rain urgently needed for resources used in bee build up for the pollination of almonds.

Northern - (Upper). There is some yield from Grey Box. Good opening rains are needed reasonably soon, the early germinated salvation jane is still surviving in the dry conditions.
(Lower) E.odorata (Peppermint) has a patchy budding with some yield. The salvation jane germination is stressed from lack of moisture.

South East - (Upper) Prospects look a bit grim for wintering this year with very poor cobbing of banksia in winter sites and the weather remaining dry. Beekeepers are waiting for enough rain to shift on to park sites just to keep bees warm over winter. Mallee budding for spring is not as good as first thought.

Central - The potato weed was a disappointment. .Bees are now on stringy bark and Cup gum which are yielding some honey on warm days. Pollen good and bees are building up well. Those who work the mangroves have also had a disappointing year. There are patches of Lincoln weed yielding good bees and honey.
West Coast - (Upper) E.dumosa has finished and there are very few prospects to come this season. Some producers would still have honey on their bees and may find enough E.diversifolia (stoney mallee) or E.gracilis (white mallee) to allow them to remove this honey.
(Lower) The yield from E.dumosa was good but is nearing the end. Good opening seasonal rains are now needed for ground flora growth.
Prospects for April are parcels of Peppermint providing a likely take of honey, other sites to top up only. Opening rains are required for lincoln weed pollen for pre-wintering nutrition. With light stocking, bees should winter well on pockets of E.diversifolia; a cash crop from this is questionable. Blue gum average budding for spring.

Kangaroo Island - Conditions continue to remain dry with still nothing from the Cup Gum. Stringy Bark is continuing to flower but virtually no nectar at all. Bees are closing down for winter, as weather is cooling down. Blue Gum is showing promising budding for later on.

Barossa - Peppermint is flowering but patchy, contrasting from heavy to nothing. The early, germinated Salvation Jane is hanging on despite the dry spell. There is some stock on hand.

Kay Lambert

Crop Report – Western Australia

With the red gum over, most beekeepers are wondering where to shift to next. With most of the sand plain country that is used over winter, hives burnt and the White gum not flowering this year the need to move from the red gum sites is not as urgent this year.

We have had a very good break to the season with good falls of rain widespread, which should mean early canola crops and hopefully Salvation Jane. The Menzies banksia is starting to flower with the white bell not far behind .

Not much honey in stock .

Kim Fewster

Crop and Stock Report – Queensland

Queensland has experienced an unusually productive run from Red Ash (Soap Bush) , this honey has an unusual flavour but was more than welcome. Gum Topped Box also yielded a small surplus. Hives are now regaining strength on a limited budding of Spotted Gum. Many eucalypts have gone to growth but are not expected to bud as the reviving rains came a few weeks too late. Rain on the Channel Country could easily see a late crop of Yapunyah. At present it is still too dry and the recent floods did not cover enough country.

Tea Tree has flowered very heavily and will now be followed by a smaller flowering. Only limited production has been reported. Bloodwood failed to impress. No major honey crops are expected prior to the end of Spring.

Hives will enter winter with good stores, a change from recent years. Little honey will be in storage.

Bill Winner