Livestock producers will begin the year with an optimistic outlook, according to Livestock SA president Joe Keynes.
Sheep and cattle prices are expected to remain buoyant and with a reasonable season, he says production should be on the rise, but he is also mindful it will be a "recovery year" for many coming out of a prolonged drought or those who were ravaged by bushfires a year ago.
"The reality is that many businesses and families have been challenged in 2020 and the need to plan and finance recovery is still real," he said.
"There is still a need for good rains to assist in the drought recovery."
Although agriculture has been classified as an essential service, Mr Keynes says there were still some COVID-19 disruptions in 2020, mainly due to border closures. The COVID-induced shortage of shearers and shed staff will have implications for the SA flock well into 2021.
Mr Keynes says Livestock SA's goal for 2021 is to ensure the sector continues to be a solid contributor to the state's economy and receive the recognition it deserves.
The organisation will continue to work with the state government and other stakeholders on the new Pastoral Act, with the aim of having it legislated during 2021.
He says pastoralists are hoping for more certainty, with longer tenure leases and more diverse land use, but acknowledges the success of the new Act will hinge on having a strong pastoral board.
Mr Keynes says it is also critical the pastoral unit is well-resourced to ensure inspections are not delayed, and while there are opportunities for the use of remote sensing to assess land condition, he says some of these processes still need to be proven.
Livestock SA will also take an active role in the development of the proposed Biosecurity Act, which aims to merge five different acts, including the Livestock Act 1997.
The Dog Fence rebuild commenced last year and in 2021, Mr Keynes hopes for a significant escalation in progress.
"We have got a target of 500 kilometres (completed) by the end of June and if we can achieve that, there is no reason we can't accelerate that with the right resources and good survey lines," he said.
Livestock SA will also work with the Dog Fence Board and other stakeholders to develop a sound business plan for the ongoing management and maintenance of the rebuilt fence.
Another highlight will be the release of the new SA Sheep Blueprint, being developed by the committee, which will set some targets to be achieved by 2030.
He says having clear priorities will encourage co-investment from state and federal governments, as well as rural development corporations.
Mr Keynes says there has been no major effect on meat and wool markets from the escalating trade tensions between China and Australia, with wool prices impacted more from the lack of demand in the northern hemisphere.
He says the China-Australia relationship is "largely out of producers hands", but believes it is critical the state's producers continue to market the highest quality products they possibly can.
"Our barley and woodchips have been rejected on the basis of biosecurity, so we need to be very mindful of livestock biosecurity and animal welfare and not give our exporting countries any excuses not to take our products," he said.
Mr Keynes says Livestock SA will continue to support its members through increased advocacy and is looking forward to more face-to-face meetings, including the annual South East meeting at Robe, scheduled for February 12.
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