In this edition, I would like to talk about some of the highlights of Ideas Exchange 2012. Ideas Exchange is our Poultry CRC annual conference, which is designed to enhance communication amongst our researchers, students, board members and industry experts in a relaxed environment.
Ideas Exchange 2012 was held between 23-25 September on the Gold Coast and covered 26 presentations in four sessions, focussing on tackling industry challenges presented to scientists or scientific solutions delivered to industry. A number of key topics were discussed. The overarching question was, how will the Australian poultry industry, which is a major contributor to Australia’s food basket (43kg meat and 213 eggs per capita), be able to continually improve productivity in the face of an increasing regulatory burden, political and public pressure on animal welfare and food safety, extreme weather events affecting feed supply and price, shortage of skilled labour force, and access to credible information?
To elaborate on the regulatory burden issue first, a new “National Primary Production and Processing Standard for Poultry Meat (Standard 4.2.2)” has recently been introduced, which, in some states, will require all poultry producers to be registered and licensed in order to continue to farm. You can find details about this Standard at the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website (Primary Production and Processing Standard for Poultry Meat).
There is also a new National Land Transport Standard to be implemented in the near future. Its details can be found at the Australian government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website (Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines).
On the issue of extreme weather events, the recent droughts in the USA have led to massive increases in the cost of feed ingredients, pushing up the price of a tonne of feed by more than one hundred Australian dollars. Furthermore, the current lack of spring rain in Australia is also creating a great deal of uncertainty about the amount of grain available for feed use from the end of this year into 2013.
Finally, I would like to touch upon the issue of how poultry producers may access credible information. Indeed, this sounds ironic in the era of information explosion but it is precisely because of the availability of vast amounts of information on the internet that busy farmers will not be able to sift through hundreds of pages of search items to find one that is credible and useful. To address this challenge, there was much discussion about the Poultry CRC initiative to create a repository for previous poultry research projects accessible to farmers. It is proposed that such a repository will be created and then widely publicised in close liaison with the various industry and government organisations over the coming 2-3 year period.
Judging from the overwhelmingly positive feedback, I believe Ideas Exchange 2012 achieved its objectives of enhancing collaboration, producing innovative ideas and creating industry solutions. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback and ideas for next year.