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Drought-affected Australian regions welcome first Vietnamese molasses shipment to sustain livestock

By Chloe MacKenzie, Friday December 7, 2018 - 10:07 EDT
ABC image
Kilcummin grazier Darren Marks pours molasses for his cattle in a partially drought-declared region. - ABC

Drought-affected graziers desperate to feed their livestock have taken the unprecedented step of importing molasses all the way from Vietnam.

The sugarcane by-product is a feed supplement that graziers in the region rely on to sustain their livestock during dry periods.

Due to the shortage of Australian molasses, graziers and suppliers have had to turn internationally for supplies.

The 75-tonne shipment is the first of its kind, having been shipped in 25-tonne bladders inside containers.

Peter Anderson, Central Queensland elected representative for Agforce and cattle grazier from Kilcummin near Clermont, said he knew graziers in his region could see the end of their molasses supply in sight.

"We've had six years of below-average rainfall in this region, so demand was higher than we've ever seen before," he said.

Commercial agricultural importing business, Agri-business, is one of the few importers that have a licence to bring in Vietnamese molasses in bladders.

This unique shipment had a unique price tag to match — double the usual per-tonne cost for the end user.

"For the first shipment, buyers are paying $310 a tonne when it comes into Brisbane port and then another $130 a tonne freight up to Clermont. It's normally around $220 a tonne," Mr Anderson said.

Distributor Steve Mifsud had never received molasses in this way and was concerned about how he would get it out of the bladders.

"It was just a learning curve for the first one [bladder], but they were packed pretty well so it's been alright," he said.

Darren Marks was the first recipient of the molasses and said, while he was thankful for the shipment, he was not happy that there was Australian molasses at Brisbane port waiting to be exported.

"It's a bit of a shame that we have to import molasses when the product is just sitting there [in Brisbane ports]. Surely the Government could sideline some of it for local use," Mr Marks said.

This is not the first time there has been a shortage of molasses in Australia.

In 2013, graziers found themselves .

Is it time to think about storage solutions?

Molasses can store for decades with minimal impact on the quality.

Mr Anderson said that end users needed to start thinking of molasses storage solutions to drought-proof themselves.

"Graziers need to be more pro-active, talk to their molasses suppliers and put in a bit more storage," he said.

"There is 100 per cent tax deduction on fodder storage for primary producers, so they should think about that."

Mr Marks agreed that he would start considering molasses storage on his property, but did not think it was viable for everyone.

"I don't think it should be up to the landholder to put in storage just to drought proof themselves with something they might not use for 20 years," he said.


© ABC 2018

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