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Report on Annual General Meeting
The Fourth Annual General Meeting of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council was held in Hobart, Tasmania on 9th and 10th July 2001. On behalf of AHBIC, our congratulations go to members of the Tasmanian Beekeepers Association and their President, Mrs Shirley Stephens, for their assistance in running another tremendously successful meeting.
The highlight of the first day was the reports given to the meeting by many of the government and semi-government instrumentalities which assist industry.
The first presentation was provided by Mr Keith McIlvride and Dr Jeff Davis from the Honey Bee Research and Development Committee (HBRDC). Key aspects of their report included the issue of the industry’s five year operations plan for R&D programmes. The address gave industry the opportunity to hear how the operations of the R&D programme for 1999/2000 were progressing and provided information on the production of the target areas of HBRDC and performance indicators of the programme and its research outcomes. Copies of these reports are available from the AHBIC office.
Mr Andrew Inglis from Plant Health Australia then addressed the meeting and outlined the formation of the organisation including a discussion paper on funding and compensation for emergency eradication of exotic plant pests and diseases. Mr Inglis welcomed discussions on the company’s activities and provided a view of its vision for the future, incursion management options and possible funding in compensation principles. AHBIC is an associate member of Plant Health Australia and it was very pleasing to hear the comments made by Mr Inglis in respect of the honey bee industry. His commitment to the industry is to continue to allow input from AHBIC into the decision making and policy formation of Plant Health Australia.
Dr Heloisa Mariath addressed the meeting on the activities of the National Residue Survey (NRS) and provided a budget for the coming year. Dr Mariath agreed that it was also necessary that the priorities of NRS be firmly agreed upon between industry and government. The meeting agreed to establish a tack force to examine the proposed outcomes of the NRS programme.
Dr Gardner Murray, Chief Veterinary Officer with CCEAD, was unable to attend the conference and in his place Mr Bob Biddle outlined for industry the activities of the CCEAD, identified what is considered an emergency disease and how the OIE listed diseases in respect of international concerns and obligations. Mr Biddle outlined the operations of CCEAD now and in the future with the proposed signing of the Animal Disease Cost Sharing Agreement with Animal Health Australia.
Messrs Michael Hibbert and Russell Smith addressed the meeting in relation to the activities of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS). Mr Hibbert outlined the proposed changes to the Wallgrove Quarantine Station, details of which were included in the last issue of the newsletter. Mr Smith advised industry of the outcome of the recent smuggling case and the views put forward by the Commonwealth and the DPP in relation to the prosecution and the running of the case. He also indicated that AQIS and its policy groups were looking at ways in which the Australian Quarantine Act could be amended to strengthen the penalties against illegal importation of prohibited goods and substances.
At the close of the first day of the conference, the dinner speaker, the Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Mr Gavan O’Connor MP, outlined the Labor Party’s position in relation to the ‘Knowledge Nation’. Mr O’Connor warmly thanked industry for the invitation to attend the meeting and put forward ALP policy in respect of agriculture for the forthcoming election. Mr O’Connor also extended a warm welcome to all members of AHBIC to visit him both in his present position and also as Minister should his party win the next election.
Day two of the AHBIC meeting, in the traditional manner, considered issues of policy and concerns of industry. Some 24 policy resolutions were passed on a wide range of subjects from concerns regarding cross border crossings by pollinators between Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, to concerns expressed by the Federal Council of Australian Apiarists Associations in relation to the diesel fuel rebate scheme. Due to the constraints of space and time, it is not possible to list all the resolutions passed, however, it is worth outlining a number of key issues considered by conference delegates.
The conference discussed at length proposals to change levy arrangements for industry. This followed widespread discussion of the issue at state conference and sector meetings. Following careful consideration of this matter, it was unanimously agreed that the Federal Government be requested to change the honey bee industry levy arrangements. These resolutions included:
The introduction of an Animal Health Australia levy with the rate set at 0.5 cents per kg based on total weight of Australian honey sold greater than 600kgs; an increase in the HBRDC operating levy from 0.75 cents to 0.8 cents per kg;
the ceiling for the NRS levy being increased from 0.3 cents to 0.6 cents per kg;
the introduction of a queen bee levy with the rate set at a statutory minimum of 0.5% of the value of queens sold with a maximum of 5% (On an $8.00 queen,
this would amount to 4 cents); the introduction of a levy on apiary by-products with the rate set initially at zero (maximum allowable of 1%) of the value of sales of:
ihoneycomb iroyal jelly ipackaged bees ibee venom ipollen ipropolis ibeeswax
B-Qual Australia Pty Limited
Industry supported the establishment of B-Qual Australia to undertake the quality assurance programme thereby assisting industry to maintain customer support including market access to overseas countries and assistance in disease control. It was also pleasing to note at conference that the Federal Government finally gave agreement for the award of a grant of $211,000 to B-Qual Australia to implement the programme.Consideration of Five Year Plan
The meeting also considered a five year plan which included the proposed operations of AHBIC for the coming years. The five year plan included matters which had been raised in the AHBIC Review and provides an exciting ‘road map’ for the future. It was agreed to adopt the five year plan as tabled.AHBIC Review Recommendations
The AHBIC Council also considered at length the proposals previously enunciated by Ms Carolyn Tanner regarding the review of AHBIC and it is pleasing to report that these recommendations would be supported by industry.Apimondia 2005 Bid
It was also announced that a separate entity, Apimondia 2005 Pty Limited had been established to put forward a proposal to secure the Apimondia Conference for Australia and Melbourne. It is pleasing to report that the Bid Committee for the organisation of this conference is well under way with Australia preparing to make a formal presentation in Durban, South Africa in October 2001.
These are some of the many issues discussed at the Annual General Meeting. It is pleasing to report that the meeting was once again well attended and provided an important avenue for members to share ideas and to develop policy for the overall benefit of the industry.
The Fourth Annual Conference provided a suitable platform for outgoing Chairman Mr Laurie Dewar to thank industry for their collective support during his six years at the head of industry representation. In his concluding address, Mr Dewar thanked the delegates, staff and industry participants for their support during his years as AHBIC Chairman and thanked industry for the privilege of being able to serve them in this capacity. This was indeed a fitting conclusion to a memorable and important industry conference.
I have received a number of phone calls regarding the article in The Land Newspaper concerning the NSW Scientific Committee’s Preliminary Determination to support a proposal to list Competition from feral honeybees Apis mellifera Linnaeus as a KEY THREATENING PROCESS on Schedule 3 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act (TSA).
I did address this issue in my State Resource Report at our State Conference in Port Macquarie, my Resource Report was also published in the last issue of Honeybee News. However, I would like to address a few issues concerning beekeeping and the TSA as I believe that beekeepers access to our natural resources is the most important issue facing the Apiary Industry today.
The New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act (TSA) came into affect on the 1 January 1996. It was introduced to try and protect all threatened animals and plants that are native to NSW. The TSA replaces and amends a number of existing Conservation Acts.
What are Threatened Species
Threatened Species are endangered species, vulnerable species, populations of ecological communities and also species presumed to be extinct.
Under the TSA the public is invited to have an input into the decision making process. In addition to environmental issues, social and economic factors must be considered as part of the decision making process. Under most sections of the Act public appeals are provided, any person, group or organisation can nominate anything as a threatening process as long as that thing is presumed to be threatening at least two (2) endangered species.
A committee set up under the Act called the NSW Scientific Committee is made up of a number of Scientists. They will consider the nomination placed before their Committee and if they find that a nomination is justified they will make a Preliminary Determination, as I understand that Determination is then written up in a scientific format by a member of that committee and placed out for public comment and submissions are asked for. The NSW Scientific Committee then considers all submissions and a final Determination is then made by that Committee.
The NSW Scientific Committee is a statutory body independent of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and that Committee has made a Preliminary Determination to support a proposal to list Competition from feral honeybees Apis mellifera Linnaeus as a Key Threatening Process on Schedule 3 of the TSA.
No one with any common sense would ever believe or want feral honeybees listed as a Key Threatening Process, but if they are, then the NPWS would have the duty of preparing a Threat Abatement Plan. They would be given three (3) years to prepare this plan. Brian Gilligan, Director-General, NPWS, has given a written guarantee to the NSWAA that we would be consulted during the preparation of a Threat Abatement Plan. However, with further new research it is possible to de-list the nomination.
Without the Apiary Industry’s support I think that the budget for a Threat Abatement Plan would be $10 million plus per year. To me it would be common sense not to list feral honeybees as a Key Threatening Process and seek the Apiary Industry’s help and advice to reduce the incidence of feral honeybees - but common sense does not always prevail.
The TSA does cover all tenure of lands, both public and private and if used in the right manner is a wonderful tool for conservation but unfortunately there are some antisocial elements of our society that would use the Act as a weapon against Industries.
NSWAA State President
CROP, STOCK AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Not much has happened on the quarantine front in the past month.
Access to the USA
Still no joy here. We may have to look at other ways by which we can achieve market access. The Brisbane Show was on this past week and one of the visitors to the Honey Court was Senator Ron Boswell, the leader of the National Party in the Senate. It seems that I meet with Ron each year at the Honey Court. I was lamenting with him about our inability to have this market opened. Ron has offered his help if we need it.
Drone semen import protocol
I have been informed that it will be at least two (2) months before we will see the first draft for this. This is unfortunate, as we have been patiently waiting for this.
After having to report on bad publicity in my last report, it is good to be able to report on some positive publicity. Readers will remember that Dr. Sue Cobey came to Australia earlier this year at the invitation of the Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association to conduct Instrumental Insemination classes. The July Issue of the American Be Journal contains an article by Sue and there is good publicity about our quarantine system and the Wallgrove facility as well as a positive over view of the beekeeping industry in Australia..
Let us hope that it has some influence on our ability to export to the USA.
Crop Report Tasmania
Above average rain on the west coast (leatherwood country) for July. Tasmania has experienced a mild winter so far with little rain in the south of the state where it is still quite dry resulting in early blooms on apricot and plums and other fruits. Pollination has begun in these early areas.
The last two to three weeks have seen quite good rains in the rest of the state with most farmers having plentiful supplies of baled hay on hand. This week we have had our first really heavy falls of rain in this area and farm dams and creeks are filling well. Prospects for ground flora honey are the best we have seen for many years.
The diminishing area available to Tasmanian beekeepers is of great concern as the farmers diversify into poppy and pyrethum crops as well as the many tree plantations now being planted. The Tasmanian Government has implemented a ban on GE crops for a further two years but has allowed small experimental crops mainly poppies and canola in bee-proof tents.
A few early flowering blue gums have been spotted in the Derwent Valley. More news next month on the prospects for the east coast. Most of the hives have now been returned from the west coast site to our spring maintenance bases. The bees seem to be quite active on suitable days, however the Tasmanian scene will necessitate normal to heavy sugar feeding.
Crop and Stock Report New South Wales
Spotted gum on the south coast has all but finished mainly due to too much rain. Mugga ironbark in the central west is still holding good bud and flower and should keep yielding into October. White box is also holding good bud and, with spring soon on the way, should yield some good crops of honey. Green mallee and yellow box is also holding good bud for late spring and early summer honey flows.
Good rains are needed in September for most areas for ground flora crops like canola and paterson's curse.
Honey is still in very short supply and most packers will be looking for early spring production to build up supplies.
Crop Report South Australia
Generally, light rains have fallen this year but as at 20th August, not good soaking sub-soil replenishment rainfalls this is badly needed for this state.
West Coast Upper: Some Euc.diversifolia still flowering. Prospects are limited for a while now. Small areas of canola are commencing to flower. Bees are currently in good condition as the Euc.diversifolia and ground floras have been beneficial. In the middle region of the west coast there has been a light yield from Euc.diversifolia. The ground floras have assisted brood development.
West Coast Lower: The middle region Euc. diversifolia is finishing early this year but the stands of these trees in the very southern regions are ready for bees. Some stands of canola are also ready for bees. Incrassata is starting early and blue gum looks promising on some sites.
South East Upper: Most bees are on almond pollination contracts. The few apiaries left in the region are getting mallee honey when the weather permits. Spring prospects look good.
Northern Upper: The blue gum is very poor as the largest percentage has already flowered when it was too cold for the bees. Canola is starting to flower. The Jane is looking promising. Some bees still on the almond pollination sites and on the west coast.
Northern Lower: The flowering of the blue gum is a concern whether there will be any useful flowering left in spring when the weather warms up and bees are brought in from their wintering sites on the plains is no clear. Canola is flowering in the mild weather regions on the plains, but not showing signs of flowering in the hills as yet.
Riverland: Almonds have nearly finished flowering. Onion weed and turnip are too dry so white mallee is the only prospect at present. Citrus is poorly budded yet with flowering still five weeks away. Most bees will be taken onto the stony mallee in the south.
Central: Rain insufficient to date for a good spring.
Crop Report Victoria
So far, August has not yet produced the amount of rainfall needed to give beekeepers confidence that spring prospects will reach their full potential. The above average warm, dry winter reported for some months now, still continues although, at the time of writing, a large cold front and showers is moving across the state.
According to National Climate Centre forecasts released this week for Eastern Australia, Victoria has a maximum chance of only 45% for better than average rainfall from September to November, a period critical for melliferous weed flora growth and flowering. The forecasts also indicate that the state will have a 60% chance of experiencing hotter than average temperatures over the some period.
Some long range forecasts are predicting the development of another El Nino phenomenon that results in the onset of drought conditions, based on the presence of a large, warm mass of sub-surface water that is currently moving across the Pacific Ocean. Other commentators believe that another El Nino is not certain to develop. Beekeepers, like all primary producers, as always will just have to cope the best they can with whatever cards are dealt by nature over the next two months. Some apiaries have already been moved to early flowering canola in the Riverina.
Prospects for next season were identified in last month’s report. Clearly, their potential for yield will be influenced by climatic conditions before and during flowering. The best guesses by experienced beekeepers is that Victoria could produce an average crop in 2001/2, this forecast somewhat dependent on what the short budders will do during summer and autumn 2002. Little production is occurring at present. Some honey will commence to be extracted during September in the warmer districts.