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pledges his support the Agriculture Minister live cattle trade to Indonesia. for a resumption of the with Indonesia as a trading partner. We have a very close relationship live export of cattle continues. I want to ensure that the put in place I want to ensure that we can that is both effective a supply-chain assurance the community expects. and guarantees outcomes the northern beef producers We meet some of decision to suspend live exports. now counting the cost of Canberra's the family business, It will affect more than just out here. but it will basically shut us down if we lost that trade. That will be the end of production at farming carbon. And Chris Clarke continues his look welcome to Landline. Hello, I'm Anne Kruger, for cattle producers It's obviously been a trying time over the past week or so in northern Australia move to contain the damaging as authorities here, and in Jakarta, at Indonesian abattoirs. revelations of animal mistreatment You will get to meet the Cook family, Territory a little later. from Suplejack Downs Station in the the same courage and determination They will face this setback with with a life-changing farm accident. they showed when confronted Like their neighbours, in the live cattle industry, the Cooks and all those involved from government, are now after some answers a volatile animal rights campaign which this week moved to defuse of the trade to Indonesia. by ordering a six-month suspension wipe hundreds of millions of dollars The fallout will

the northern cattle herd, off the value of and export income. the properties they're raised on, Kerry Lonergan, Landline's commodities analyst, to the man in the hot seat, put some of those questions Joe Ludwig. Federal Agriculture Minister Can we clear something up first up, and not a complete ban? this is a suspension Absolutely, what I've done is, live animal export up to a period. I've ordered a suspension into the is that the industry What I want to ensure and the department, and the Indonesian government including all the stakeholders, can work through the supply chain, animal welfare outcomes so that we can guarantee and the department, that the community now expects. least the next six months? So there won't be any exports for at is that the industry, Well, what I'm confident of to this industry, and the stakeholders representative bodies, together with the the supply chain assurance. can sit down, work through chain assurance up and running, As soon as we can get a supply animal welfare outcomes, as soon as we can ensure the trade can recommence. The trade is important trade, Indonesia and Australia It's important trade between the long term of this industry. and we do need to ensure So this is for six months. before six months is up, Could exports resume provided standards are met? Of course. a supply chain assurance, As soon as we can get before six months is up, animal welfare outcomes, as soon as we can ensure but I expect, which not only the community expects the television images also expect. and I'm sure the producers who saw that do meet Australian standards, Why not allow the 20 or 25 abattoirs processing Australian cattle why not allow them to continue are in fact brought up to standard? while the other abattoirs in question that's been put forward That's been a suggestion within the industry. by various stakeholders I've asked the department that have been put forward. to have a look at the various plans with clear advice - They've come back to me transparent, verifiable system, that to ensure we've got a of cattle that goes from Australia, so that we can account for each head that goes into an abattoir, what's called supply chain assurance we do need to ensure that we've got and a framework around that,

where each head of cattle has gone. so that we can verify will allow the industry, The suspension the department and stakeholders, assurance so that we can do that. to put in place that supply chain But of course, as any industry can, as we put in place the supply chain, as they come forward, as soon as possible. we can then bring it on-line Now, the issue of compensation, the exporters affected by this ban? will there be compensation for What I've indicated clearly is that I'm willing to sit down with stakeholders, with the industry and the producers and look at what the impacts are. I understand there are impacts within this industry.

Of course with any suspension like this there will be impacts that will be right through the supply chain. What I'm keen to do is be able to sit down with industry and just understand those impacts, understand what actually happens throughout the industry. But let's be clear about this, we do need to suspend the trade to ensure that no animals are mistreated. Can you give the exporters something to hang on? Can you say, for example, that there will be compensation, it's simply a matter of negotiation? It's a very complex issue. What I'm keen to do is sit down with the industry, and work through some of the detail. Because of course what we do need to do is look at what those impacts are, whether they're quantifiable, whether they've a qualitative impact, wether they're alternatives to what's happened. All of that will measure what the industry impact is. All of that you will need to look at and examine and understand, but that is a second point to what we are are here today to deal with. We're here today to deal with the mistreatment of animals that we all saw, that producers themselves, producers themselves wouldn't accept. I don't accept, the community doesn't accept that mistreatment. What we have to do is look at a suspension, to allow industry to put in place the supply chain assurance that is critically necessary. What is important is that not only do we put that in place, because if we don't put it in place we risk the industry, quite frankly.

We need to ensure that we put it in place, to guarantee the longterm industry. Indonesia has already indicated it will source live cattle from other sources, probably Brazil, which means three weeks on the water for these cattle. Then they go to the abattoirs in Indonesia which will not be under any strict supervision like the Australian cattle are now. Can I say, we have a very close relationship with Indonesia as a trading partner. I want to ensure that the live export of cattle continues. I want to ensure that we can put in place a supply chain assurance that is both effective and guarantees outcomes that the community expects. And I'm confident that industry wants that, that producers want that and I'm confident that we'll be able to get there in a very short space of time. So that we can address those issues you've raised around competition. Because this is an industry that does supply into Indonesia. It's an important trading country with us, it's important trade not only for the live animal export, in the Northern Territory,

for the producers in Western Australia, and of course for the economy as a whole. So isn't that a matter, really, exporting the cruelty of the animals

from Australian cattle to Brazilian cattle? I don't want to speculate on what the Indonesian, or what the Australian producers might do.

What I'm keen to do is what we're currently faced with. We are faced with an industry that has been highlighted where you have animal mistreatment. It's not acceptable to the community, it's not acceptable to me, it's not acceptable to producers and I'm confident it's not acceptable to the industry themselves. What we do need to do is address that,

and that's what we're all now going to do. The suspension will allow us to be able to put in place the supply chain assurance to address that. That's the critical part we do need to work towards.

Now, Ramadan is coming up in Indonesia, August 1st.

This is a time when Indonesia needs beef more than at any other time of the year. Was this issue discussed with Indonesia at all? Can I say, I'm not going to go into individual conversations, but can I say, we've had a range of conversations with Indonesian government. It's an important trading country, we do need to work with the Indonesian government to ensure that we can continue this trade for the long term. We will work with them, they will work with industry, they will work with my government to ensure that we can put in place supply chain assurance,

but not only supply chain assurance, but also to ensure that we have what the outcome is about,

it's about ensuring that we don't have animals mistreated. So in your discussions did the Indonesian government agree with you on this ban? I made the order for the suspension because it's important to suspend the trade so that we can put in place a supply chain assurance. because it's important to suspend the trade That sounds like a no, that they didn't actually agree? It's not about whether Indonesia wants it or not, it's about ensuring that we look after the welfare of animals. This is a decision that I can make in relation to export control orders so that we can ensure supply chain assurance. This is a decision that I can make in relation to export control orders that I put that in place. It's important that I take the confidence of Indonesia with me, it's important that I not discuss individual conversations, that it's important that if you look at the outcome the Indonesian government, the Australian government, the stakeholders will now work together to ensure that we have supply chain assurance because this is an important industry. Were you aware of the cultural sensitivities of the approaching Ramadan when you discussed this ban? I don't want to get into the issues around of what you've described. This is about the welfare of animals, to avoid the mistreatment of animals in a supply chain.

I'm confident that what I've now put in place will allow the industry to address this. Minister, thanks for your time. Thank you very much. This is the most isolated cattle station in Australia. Possibly even the world. Alice Springs is the closest big town and that's 730 kilometres away. Katherine is the same distance in the opposite direction and Darwin, from where we've driven, is 1,000 kilometres to the north.

I love it. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world. A very simple life out here, you get up, go to work have a feed and go to bed. No humbug, no worry, no nothing, hey, I wouldn't be anywhere else. To the news summary now - and we begin in Europe, where investigators have spent the past week trying to trace the cause of the deadly E. Coli outbreak.

where investigators have spent the past week It's a horticultural whodunit that has experts variously pointing the finger of blame at Spanish cucumbers, German tomatoes, lettuce and organic bean sprouts.

At issue is a virulent strain of bacteria that's left 23 people dead and 2,500 seriously ill with symptoms ranging from bloody diarrhoea

to full-blown kidney failure. Scientists trying to find the source of the outbreak first concentrated on a restaurant in Hamburg then a music festival in the same area. Japan has doubled its estimate of the radiation that's escaped from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Thousands outside the official no-go zone around the plant are packing up and leaving,

fearing radiation in soil and the atmosphere could lead to health problems. At Iitate less than 40 kilometres from the stricken power station, Takeshi Yamada's pride and joy is his pampered Wagyu cattle. But in a few days this Fukushima farmer will have to say goodbye to his home and his herd. Our home wasn't destroyed by the earthquake or the tsunami

but we have to move because of radiation. I feel very confused. Same goes for 6,000 townsfolk of Iitate. Yoshitada Yamada is one of those ignoring pleas to leave voluntarily. Although the area was designated an evacuation zone, my workers wanted to continue working here. So we use Geiger counters to check radiation levels twice a day. Back on the farm Takeshi Yamada is ploughing in a radioactive broccoli crop.

any crops this year, I can't plant or harvest we will be allowed to farm again. we don't know when at least. I think not for another 10 years Still overseas but closer to home record wool and lamb prices rejoicing. should have had Tasmanian farmers had such a buoyant consistency It's been a long time since we've across the whole farming industry, our wool and our sheep. being our prime lamb meat, of the State's sheep But more than a quarter by Ovine Johne's disease have been hit so hard at the Campbell Town Show that the Tasmanian shearing finals had to been cancelled.

It's a highly contagious disease and of course the stud growers here Johne-infected sheep on to grounds. they don't want us bringing in Tasmania around a decade ago The disease was first detected of the water-borne bacteria. but drought helped stop the spread a bit of a honeymoon period We probably got winters and water all over the place but the last two years of wet everywhere. the disease has just spread The disease targets older animals. starves to death. The sheep basically from the grass, It can't process the nutrients the sheep it just runs straight through of starvation. and the sheep basically dies

for every infected farm Mr Cocker says

go undetected. it's estimated 3 or 4 others To the mainland now and as big as they may have been through the Murray-Darling Basin the recent floods to others over the last century. barely rate when compared Even with the recent inflows still depend on pumping water some of the basin's wetlands to keep them flowing. to the bottom of this flood marker This year's flood only really got this flood marker and as you can see, flood ever recorded, 1956. goes all the way up to the highest It's been pumping water since 2005. A pump upstream has been the godsend. But environment groups are concerned wetlands healthy in the longer term. it's not enough to keep the

the Government buys back water We need to make sure that of the Murray-Darling Basin for places like Hattah and the rest because if we don't do that, a dead river is no good to no-one. we will have a dead river and

welcome that plan. Some irrigators in the area Go and buy the water our lives so we can get on with it. and stop teddin' around with the priorities are are right. Others are not convinced

to be productive and competitive We also need our farms the greatest input and water is really if we've got water on hand. and we can only produce of who needs how much Finding the balance Basin Authority next month. will be decided by the Murray-Darling all about the science. Irrigators say it can't be a judgment call by the a MDBA There ultimately has to be

and then again by the elected politicians at at the end of the day. The graziers living on the marshes say the decisions made now will determine the future of life on the basin. It's not just irrigators, there's other people in the landscape. There's people that live along the rivers that have for 200 years and it's important that they get a fair hearing included in the debate. A Sydney inquest has heard the horse riding industry is responsible for more injuries and deaths than football or motor racing but is still largely unregulated. 18-year-old TAFE trainee jillaroo, Sarah Waugh, died after being thrown from a former race horse. This is Dargo, this is my baby boy. These images capture the final minutes of Sarah-Kate Waugh's life. She was somehow thrown from the horse possibly caught in the stirrup and broke her neck, dying instantly. The horse she was given for her training was a 4-year-old former race horse which had run its last race just weeks before. Sarah wasn't a beginner rider but she was a very inexperienced rider so the horse you're on needs to suit the purpose for what you're using it for. Sarah Waugh's parents are calling for the introduction of toe-stoppers in horse riding training. They say in the event of an accident riders feet don't get stuck in the stirrups and there's less chance they will die from a broken neck. And finally politics in Queensland could be in for a lively dose of Bob Katter after the maverick Independent launched his own new political party. And it's first objective will be to take seats in the next Queensland State election. For those people that have been out there in a comfortable cocoon of big party endorsement, well, happy days are at an end, my friends. His Australian Party has the potential to divide conservative voters like Pauline Hanson's One Nation did.

The major parties acknowledge its effect is unpredictable. I think his formation of this party is more a reflection on the weakness of the Liberal and National parties in Queensland who have failed to stand up for regional areas. The LNP leader jumped in quickly to head off any damaging split in the conservative vote. In last week's show we told you about the Carbon Farming Initiative, a Federal Government plan to give farmers credits for cutting greenhouse gas emissions or storing carbon. The legislation's due to be debated in Federal Parliament this week. If the idea is to work in practice, then it has to be based on accurate measurements and, as Chris Clarke explains, there's a huge amount of research being done to quantify what's happening on farms and how emissions from agriculture might be cut.

Agriculture accounts for nearly 16% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions and methane makes up two thirds of that. What's it weigh? In agriculture methane comes mostly from livestock. Typical cow will eat about 8 or 10 kilos of feed in a day. Millions of cattle and sheep happily burping away, quite literally ruminating and pumping out methane as they go.

Forage is a lot of fibre and when this gets in the rumen, the bugs in the rumen break down the fibre and one of the byproducts of that process is methane. At this recent field day near Townsville beef producers had a chance to run a ruler over the CSIRO's latest efforts in understanding just how much methane Australia's northern cattle herd generates

and what might be done to cut it. ..a laser path shooting from that machine... There are lasers to measure methane out in the open... And it's captured by a laptop computer. ..special tents to measure methane from animals and purpose-built collars which can take measurements, burp by burp. This bale of hay will give you about this much methane/ If we could freeze methane down and solidify it, about 200 grams a day. All this measuring, all this effort is producing results. It now seems that northern Australia's cattle are emitting much less methane than was previously thought. What we found with a more broad based data set

is that when you look at it across a wider range of feeds and with more up-to-date technology the emissions level is actually about 30% lower than was previously thought. and we're quite surprised at the magnitude of the difference. Wind speed and wind direction... But if cattle producers are to get credits under the planned Carbon Farming Initiative they will have to show that they can cut their emissions further. Some of the big things that reduce methane emissions in northern Australia

is improved productivity. So increase your browning rate, increase your - reduce your days to turn off, those sorts of things, they make the industry more efficient and it also reduces the amount of methane associated with that product, and I think that's really where the big gains will be made in northern Australia over the next 5, 10, 15 years. and I think that's really where the big gains will be made in northern Australia over the next 5, 10, 15 years.

It's already clear that dietary supplements reduce methane and increase productivity. There's also research being done into breeding but before you can get a carbon credit you will have to show that whatever you're doing to cut emissions passes scientific muster. Inherent in putting up a method to claim any offsets out of this carbon farming initiative there has to be a number of peer review journal articles that actually substantiate the science underpinning the claim. Richard Eckard is a scientist who specialises in agriculture, climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. How might it be applied in the area of livestock emissions? It is inherently quite difficult at this stage. There's some science around fairly simple things if you can adjust animal numbers. So if you can reduce the number of unproductive animals in the system. So in a dairy system, for example, if you went to extended lactation that may mean that you're calving down less often and you have a lower replacement rate. That's just numbers. There's slightly more complex ones around different dietary supplements so we can feed dietary oils and reduce methane. But a lot of research beyond that, so breeding for less methane, intervening in the rumen and adjusting the microbes in the rumen, those are a long time scale out still Across the country there's a lot of work being done to quantify greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Ian McClelland runs a mixed grazing and cropping enterprise in the Victorian Mallee. There's a big question about having sheep eating the straw or leaving it for the moisture conservation and for nitrate use. And I think there's also a lot of questions around pulse crops - chick pea, lentils, which we grow, producing nitrate for next year's crop and how much emissions come from actually the production of those crops. Ian McClelland is also chairman of the Birdchip Cropping Group, a farmer-led research organisation. With some federal funding the Birdchip Cropping Group

looked at greenhouse gas emissions on his farm and six others. Agronomist, Harm van Rees, co authored the report. About 30% to 40% pocket come from sheep, from livestock,

for those farmers that have livestock.

Another 30 or 40% comes from the actual stubble -

so that's the material left over after the wheat and the pulse crops and canola have been grown, and about 15 to 20% comes from nitrogen fertiliser.

They measured emissions for two specific years - 2003 and 2009. And what they discovered is just how difficult it is to draw conclusions.

It's very complicated because, for example, 2003 was a good year, 2009 was a pretty poor year for us because of the drought and there was a big difference in the emissions

but that was all related to yield, which is related to rainfall. So already we have in-between-year variation, but that was all related to yield, which is related to rainfall. let alone due to different management practices. So it is going to be very difficult to attribute a reduction from one farming practice into another farming practice. But that's the sort of thing that Carbon Farming Initiative envisages, that farmers will get credits for managing their farms in ways that reduce emissions. How do you measure that? I think we've accepted we'll never be measuring on every farm, that's pretty obvious. So it has to be a deeming method which says here are a range of practices and it might be a QA system, a quality assurance approach,

or a best management practice checklist that says have you complied with these best practices? Now, all these - it's a bit like the tax system. All of it is subject to some audit later on but it would have to work on trust. In cropping, nitrous oxide from nitrogen fertiliser is a significant source of emissions. There are fertilisers with nitrogen inhibitors to prevent the production of nitrous oxide but they cost more. Farmers might use them more if using them produced a carbon credit.

You could look at inhibitor coatings on fertilisers. At the fertiliser company scale, if all the fertiliser they sell is coated urea rather than just ordinary urea, as an aggregator they could claim an offset from the Government that could offset the cost of that extra product, and put it into the market place at a competitive price.

So the farmer wouldn't actually need to do any paperwork at all. In the dairy farm system you could see a number of things, managing the rate, source, timing of the nitrogen fertiliser they use.

There's simple best practices around that that have been around for a number of years.

So just moving from an average practice to a best practice, there would be a reduction in the nitrous oxide. If the Carbon Farming Initiative becomes law

it will present different opportunities in different parts of Australia.

Sandra Eady is a CSIRO researcher in different parts of Australia. who has been measuring emissions in Queensland agriculture. So understanding what the sources are and where they're coming from

is important in terms of setting both the research agenda but also helping farmers understand how they can engage with a carbon market. What works in the cropping zone in southern Australia might not be useful in the tropics. Already ahead of a full parliamentary debate the Government's released one proposal to give credits for changing savannah burning in northern Australia. Burning in the early dry season rather than later can cut methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Beef producers are learning how productivity gains might carry extra benefits.

If you can get your weaning percentages up that reduces the carbon footprint of the beef you're producing because you've got those cows working that much harder

and actually producing something more often and so you're spreading that cost over more product coming off the property.

If you can manage your fires to shift them from late season burning to early season burning to get that emissions down, that's something that people can tackle immediately. Not everyone will share equally in whatever spoils a carbon farming world brings. Even across sectors like livestock there could be big variations. CFI is a program that will reward producers, it's an incentive, it's not a big stick and I think that's great. Incentives are good. The opportunities are probably fairly limited in northern Australia because the cattle are out in the paddock, we can't dose them every day, for example, as you could with the dairy cows,

so some soft treatments that would be working in southern Australia are pretty hard to do for us but there are opportunities in the north. Next week the challenges of soil carbon. The soil carbon, what we don't know yet, is firstly how strong is the science? So, how much carbon per hectare in a variety of landscapes is actually sequestered, the permanence of that sequestration so it's not just cycled out of the paddock and into the atmosphere. And a different way of thinking about a carbon credit. I personally think that carbon's too important a product to sell, to store it for 100 years. Carbon is money in the bank for us because it's converted through micro-organisms to fertility. That's carbon farming on Landline next time. There's one word echoing around northern Australia at the moment and that world is compensation. And here's just one example of what's involved. next time. There are about 12,000 head of cattle stranded at the moment at the Ports of Broome, Port Hedland and Darwin. The average cost of yarding, watering and feeding these cattle is about $8 a head, per day, that's close to $100,000 a day for the lot. Add to this the demurrage fees for the ships - that could be anything - that's close to $100,000 a day for the lot. but I've been told of one big ship which is costing $40,000 a day, that's for one ship, for one day. Now, who's going to pay for all this? These cattle went through all the correct protocols for export. Producers and exporters went by the book and the Government has ordered their business to stop. This imbroglio, which we're told is fundamentally about animal welfare could become yet another lawyers' picnic. Steve Meerwald is the boss of Wellards, Australia's largest shipper and exporter of livestock. Steve Meerwald is the boss of Wellards, He joins Landline from Fremantle. It's still a great deal of uncertainty as to what's going on. There's obviously now a lot of commercial reality coming into play as to what the impacts, the consequences of this abrupt decision relative to the total suspension

and that's all just playing out. We've seen a complete reversal in what's been in the media in the last two days from the sympathy and welfare issues relative to the cattle to now a great deal of empathy for the commercial participants in the northern pastoral industry who are really being held to ransom as a consequence of this particular suspension. Yes, the word I'm hearing is compensation. As a shipper and an exporter, that impacts you both ways? Well, we'll look at all the options. We have charterers who have commitments on our vessels that we're looking for them to uphold their end of the contracts. Obviously they're going to have issues doing that. We also have some significant expenses and damages, ourselves, as we restructure our shipping program to alleviate the worst of the consequence of this immediate suspension. I get the impression that your view is shared through the industry, that this issue has not been handled well at many levels. Badly handled on a number of fronts, it's not an easy situation, everybody's under pressure, it's difficult, it requires leadership and I think that there's been some lapses in leadership across the board. That's Steve Meerwald from Wellards, in Fremantle. A final word for the moment, at least on the compensation issue and the Government's failure to commit. I can smell a levy coming on and in the end this could cost the Government absolutely nothing,

at least in financial terms. And so far the impact of the export ban has had little impact at the sale yards at least not in the national sense but I have heard of processors going to northern sale yards, like Cloncurry, and offering prices 50 cents down on last week. Meanwhile cold and wet weather has limited turn-off in many southern areas and a reduction in quality, and combined with softer demand from processors and a reduction in quality, prices eased across the board. So the categories all went down and when you look at those prices, producers might check the Beef Central newsletter which reports on renewed interest in EU-accredited cattle

and the significant margins they can bring. So the eastern young cattle indicator dropped 3 cents to close at $3.85. And sheep and lamb prices softened marginally as well last week but historically, prices are still high. Players in this market could not help but notice the record prices for wool, more on that later, but the rise and rise of the once again golden fleece is certainly going to impact on mutton and lamb prices. Now to grains, where the dominant factor is the price of corn. It reached a record high last week and the outlook is bullish, demand is being driven by ethanol production which is linked to the price of oil, which influences the price of synthetics, which in turn bounces to the price of cotton and in turn reflects in the price of wool. which in turn bounces to the price of cotton A bit like the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone, etc, etc. So, corn jumped, soy bean and wheat prices were soft as demand for soy falls on the back of weakening orders from China and there's a likely production lift for American wheat despite those massive floods. And the wheat prices were reflected back home at the ASX where futures for January delivery were also down. WA wheat, $317 a tonne and NSW milling wheat for the same month dropped to $294 a tonne. Back to New York now for the soft commods and sugar finished with mixed results but was reasonably firm for the week. Cotton remains bearish although there's debate whether it's the high price or just simple lack of demand which is the major influence on the market at present. And $1.51 a pound - that's still pretty good. And in other cotton news the administrators of Cubby Station have agreed to fund planting for yet another season. Finally to wool where records have been broken for the first time. The key indicator has broken through 1,400 cents. Last week saw China dominate as usual

in a market where demand for the middle microns was especially strong. The eastern market indicator closed at 1,420 cents, a lift of 1.6% for the week. And that's the Landline check on prices. Most Australian farmers would have strong views on this week's live cattle developments but for one family enterprise in central Australia, it's personal. Suplejack Downs is remote, even by Northern Territory standards. In an era of consolidation and corporatisation the Cooks have kept it in the family for three generations. As Pru Adams reports, beef is their mainstay and in recent years live exports have helped them through some very tough times. When the bitumen ends the red dirt tracks stretch as far as the eye can see. And cattle, unfettered by fence lines, rule the road.

It's here, near the western border of the Northern Territory, that you will find Suplejack Downs Station. This is the most isolated cattle station in Australia, that you will find Suplejack Downs Station. possibly even the world. Alice Springs is the closest big town and that's 730 kilometres away.

Katherine is the same distance in the opposite direction and Darwin, from where we've driven, is 1,000 kilometres to the north. Suplejack Downs station is indeed a long way from anywhere. Personally, I've never felt isolated at Suplejack. We've always had people around and so much to do too, you're never idle. We've always had people around So yeah, isolation's a weird sort of a word, really. This is the most resourceful and resilient bush dynasty you're ever likely to come across. Three generations of the Cook family run cattle across 3,000 magnificent square kilometres. The gyrocopter is used to tease animals out from the bush. On the ground other forms of horse-power are are employed. Even toddlers get in on the act. As with all things here, mustering is a family affair. It's been that way for half a century.

Mum and Dad basically pioneered, as a pastoral property, Suplejack, so we all trudged out on the back of the old green Bedford in 1964 and set up tent, and I was seven years old. so we all trudged out on the back of the old green Bedford in 1964 So really I don't have many memories before Suplejack. Lettie Cook's father, Bob Savage, named the place after the Suplejack tree, which was abundant. That piece of country really stood out as far as cattle country was concerned. After first getting a grazing licence, Bob and Lil Savage took out a 99-year lease. Their first homestead was this tin shed.

Here they raised seven children.

They grew what they ate and they cooked it outside. It was a bit hard, at first, going into there from a house, but you get used to it. It was the most isolated country, I think, anywhere. There was no mines, there was there was one car go up through the road, a year.

I have seen it - 12 months the one car go through there. Mum and Dad were just inspirational and I think we looked up to them all the time because we thought they could never do anything wrong, you know. You lived way out here, you had no neighbours,

no mail plane, no refrigeration, no power but everything just went on as normal, like, we didn't ever think we went without anything. We had a terrific childhood, really, yeah. Lettie made a break for it as a young woman but returned with her husband, Bill Cook, in 1997 bringing with them their own seven kids - four daughters and three sons. After their school years

the Cook kids all spread their wings and worked elsewhere. But the three boys have returned with their own partners and young children to help wrangle the Suplejack herd. This has always been home regardless of where we've been in Australia. Yeah, nothing's really changed, we've just grown up and taken a little more responsibility upon ourselves and tried to help out the old fella as much as we could. I love it, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world.

Very simple life out here, hey, you get up, you go to work, you have a feed and go to bed, like no humbug, no worries, nothing, hey. I wouldn't be anywhere else. I mean, it was as good a place as you could pick to live.

Dad's never, he's never made us feel like we need to be here or that we should be here or we owe it to him to be here. If we've ever wanted to go off and do things we just went off and done them. But I think that's been the attraction, to come home. COMMENTATOR: Rob Cook went better than that with 83 points on Red Alert... Rob Cook is the oldest of the three brothers.

A one-time professional bull-rider,

he married Sarah, his high school sweetheart, and they had two little boys, Brackston and Lawson. But in September 2008 something happened which would dramatically change the life they knew. I mean, it just started off like any usual muster, you know, the choppers got going early in the morning on daylight. The helicopter he was a passenger in dropped 200 feet out of the sky and crashed into trees on the edge of a clearing. Rob Cook had jammed his head against the inside of the chopper. Other than having a broken neck, I really wasn't injured. There was, you know, I wasn't bleeding,

I wasn't in a state of bother by no means, I just couldn't feel or move any part of my body. But yeah, I knew - no feeling - it probably wasn't real good, straight up. Sarah's a trained nurse. She was right. Her husband had broken his neck near the top of his spine and spent the next eight months rehabilitating in Adelaide, 2,000 kilometres away from home. Amazingly, almost every member

of his large, close-knit, extended family followed him there. Bill and I and Sarah, and the boys, obviously, and Brad and Cam and their families -

we moved to Adelaide and we were down there for eight months. The boys ended up getting jobs down there but we sort of took over the waiting room and we lived there from early hours in the morning 'til late at night and we basically slept and ate in the waiting room. It was a horrible time, as you can imagine, but having every single member of the family there at one time or another, it made it worth while. There was always about 10 of us in the waiting room so there wasn't many seats left over for anyone else, unfortunately. The first instructions was to find a house within a 5km radius of the nearest big hospital and live there, you know, and that was never on the cards for us. Rob and Sarah Cook have returned to Suplejack to bring up their boys the same way both of them were brought up. Keep coming right around me, follow the yard around, Brackie. Good boy. This champion rodeo rider has no feeling or movement from the shoulders down. And, as he says, his thermostat is shot so he can't regulate his body temperature. We play it safe too -

if it's a hot day outside we don't go and sit in the yards like we used to. We still push boundaries though. Yeah.

OFF CAMERA: That doesn't surprise me. (Laughs) Sheer determination to avoid a chin-operated wheelchair means he gets along with the slightest of movements in his right hand.

It's been hard. We have bad days and we just get by them and then when we have good ones we relish them, I guess. But, you know, I'm a big boy, I got in the helicopter, I put the seatbelt on and I'm the one that broke my neck so for me every day is a good day, you know, it's a blessing but I guess the hard part is for Sarah and the kids, you know. Brackston is five and has just started School of the Air. After Sarah gets her husband bathed and ready for the day, she will often spend time in the school room helping her oldest son with his lessons. Fortunately, in this most communal of set ups, the entire family shares the load, including the wives of the other two Cook boys. There's the old saying about every good man - behind them is a good woman, I mean, we wouldn't run out here without, you know, the women we've married and we rely heavily on them.

Bill and Lettie Cook have 18 grandchildren. Six of them live at Suplejack and there's another on the way. We love our grandkids and they make life worth living and we get on with the boys and the year before last we had the three girls home and the three boys, before Rob's accident. And it works, it works for us. You know, we say, we've got the big house and then they've all got their own homes and the business all takes place in the big house, so basically that's our meeting point. The business is a seven-day a week job. There are 8,000 cattle, drought-masters are gradually being introduced to the Brahman-Shorthorn crossbreeds. Ordinarily they would have been trucked up to Darwin to head overseas live to Indonesia.

But this week's dramatic developments will throw the Cooks' livelihood into chaos,

along with other cattle exporters in the north. So how important has live export been to you here? Very. Extremely. With the prices that we're getting, it's given us the opportunity to do a lot of improvements, you know, that were fairly hard to be done previous to live export. They've killed stock themselves, of course, but they say it's quick and humane. They're disgusted with the images they've seen at overseas meatworks, but believe if Australia doesn't supply live animals someone else will. I think, you know, if ever there was a chance that the live export trade would stop, I mean, it will affect more than just the family business, but it would basically shut us down out here. That would be the end of production if we lost that trade. The tyranny of distance has been overcome in many ways at Suplejack. The mail plane is welcomed every Thursday. Communication is way beyond the expectations of a generation ago. But there's no getting away from the fact that if these cattle all have to go through an Australian abattoir it will cost the Cooks dearly. With no meatworks in Darwin,

they're set for a long, bumpy road trip to Murray Bridge, near Adelaide. The price of that - a whopping $150 a head. Tell me, what are the most difficult aspects of being isolated when it comes to running a beef property? Definitely the condition of the roads. It's just the biggest factor for, I think, probably for all pastoralists.

After one big wet there, a few years ago we never got a supply truck in until August. After one big wet there, a few years ago You need to get cattle out - well, that's your livelihood - but you also need to get fuel in so you're handicapped at the beginning of every year because you've got to cut back on your fuel and you can't go out and do the grading of your fence lines, and the roads, and do all you need to do at the start of each year before the cattle season starts because you don't have a big supply of fuel.

He might not be able to break in the horses like he used to, or brand a calf, but Rob Cook is determined to play a useful role in the family business. Bush, bush. Weiner, bush. He's investigating the use of voice-activated calf cradles and cattle crushers. Open Windows mail. He's got a modified computer and can see no reason why he shouldn't be able to remotely monitor bores and water allocation.

Mouse click. And as a mark of the man, he's just completed the first part of a Nuffield scholarship. He and Sarah have travelled the globe for six weeks looking at different farming systems. I guess what it comes down to for me is originally I was looking for a new job. for six weeks I figure with this level of injury I've got to try and build a new life and the biggest lesson I've learnt so far with Nuffield

is that there's ways around things.

You know, instead of finding a new job, I'll find a new way to do my old jobs. You're going to jump back your gyro once we go through the creek? TWO-WAY: I don't know, eh, we'll see how we're going.

If they're going like this I'm not going there. Just as his grandparents were pioneers opening up this remote country,

Rob Cook wants to lead the way in making properties manageable with brain power. Not only brawn. What it bares out is that running modern cattle stations or farms is not all about brute strength, it's about a lot of strategy and about a lot of planning. The NT Cattlemen's Association's Luke Bowen believes Rob Cook has a real future in the beef industry. He's epitomises somebody who has lost everything physically but he's got his mind, and his mind has kicked in, and he's obviously had the same mind all the way through but that mind is really working for him now and he can bring a lot to our industry. Luke would ring up and give him a project, I guess you'd call it, get him to research something or other and sort of got Rob ticking again back into the industry and what he knows and loves and I think that really helped. Absolutely. I think if after the accident if we hadn't had the support and the encouragement that we had and we've got other leaders in the fields in the Territory and that sort of, I guess that inspired you to do more, you know. I could have very easily rolled up into a ball. and that sort of, I guess that inspired you to do more, you know. Landline visited Suplejack on Rob Cook's 30th birthday. As a gift, a great mate flew in. Zebb Leslie was flying the helicopter that crashed on that fateful day 2.5 years ago. The pilot walked away with barely a scratch but was wracked with guilt and sorrow for what happened to his friend. Something I think about every day, for sure, every day. But yeah, you don't deal with it that well but, yeah, you've got to do your best, hey. While there hasn't been a conclusive crash investigation Rob Cook blames the helicopter, not the pilot. As a pilot, I trust him, as a bloke he was a good mate, and he still is, you know. We're probably better mates now because of it. He was always there. Cheers. Cheers, here's to number 30. Zebb Leslie has spent many hours at Rob's side since the accident. But we knew he was going to be right, hey, we knew he was going to battle on and keep going. There's no stopping him. There was no stopping him before the accident, there's no bloody hope of stopping him now either.

Yeah, but he's pretty remarkable person. For a while there it looked as if Rob wouldn't make it to 30 and he certainly wouldn't make it back to Suplejack. The joys of living out here is the family time and growing up, you know, in a bush setting and we both had that as kids growing up, coming from the land, and we want that for our kids. The extended family celebrated the birthday the way they deal with every day - together and taking adversity in their stride. Happy birthday, darling. Thank you, Mum. Your welcome. Ahh baa bi! Happy birthday, Bobby. Oh, thank you. When this night's over, Rob and Sarah Cook will turn their attentions to their next big challenge. They've decided to ride, in his wheelchair, with the children in a modified horse float, 730 kilometres to Alice Springs along the corrugated and dusty Tanami Road. So, on May 23 the trip began.

With a few sponsors on board, the journey is partly to raise money

in his wheelchair, for the next leg of his Nuffield scholarship, an expensive exercise when you need to cart carers and wheelchairs overseas. But it's much more than that. Rob Cook is on a mission

to prove disability need never hold you back.

To think of someone who basically could do anything and everything and then to have all that taken away, you think to yourself how on Earth could someone deal with it the way he has, but then you think, well, that's Rob,

he's always dealt with everything head on and everything's been a hurdle, not a brick wall to Rob, you know, it's there to be jumped. There's so many people out there that have had spinal injuries and they just, because the doctors tell them to, you know, get used to a life watching TV, well, that's what they get used to and I don't think that should be the case. If I can help one person, you know, then I'll sleep better at night

knowing that people out there getting the message that if you want to do something, go and do it. There were more weather records broken across the country last week including Brisbane which had its coldest June day since 1916, so much for 'welcome to the sunshine State'!

First up the southern oscillation index, and here's the graph - and you can see it finished the week up, not much, but positive 5.5 and at this stage not worrying weather people too much. Now rainfall for the past week. And despite the cold there was plenty of rain, starting in Tasmania which was absolutely drenched and look at that spread over mainland Australia right across the centre, the far north missed and so too did northern NSW. To numbers - Augathella in Queensland had 12mm, Tumbarumba in NSW scored 18MM,

Club Terrace in Victoria registered a massive 184mm, Llewellyn in Tasmania had 105. 29mm was the reading at Paraw in South Australia. The gauge at the Alice Springs airport recorded 9mm while Kalgoorlie bolder in Western Australia had 23mm. That's Landline's check on rainfall. Before we go, congratulations to the Landline team for its stellar performance in the Rabobank Awards for Excellence in Rural Journalism. Pip Courtney, Kathy McLeish, Shaun Murphy and Kerry Staight were finalists in the broadcast section this year, with Pip taking the honours with her comprehensive analysis of the interface between coal seam gas and agriculture

on the Darling Downs. PIP COURTNEY: That conciliatory attitude is not in evidence down the road at Australian Country Choice, which operates one of the State's biggest feed lots. down the road at Australian Country Choice, which operates one of the State's biggest feed lots. First experience was having a phone call from my staff telling me they'd drilled a well, they've cut the fence, they've made their own roads into the property,

it's not where they said they were going.

How did you react? Pretty angrily, first up. I guess first reaction is get mad, ring the lawyers, find out what we can do and what we can do was issue a notice of trespass which we did immediately. You could either call it measles or call it pox... ACC has an abattoir in Brisbane but the 22,000-hectare Brindley Park is the hub of the business. Each of these red dots, wherever they are, is going to have a pipeline for water and a pipeline for gas and a connecting road to service the pipelines and/or the motors on each so it becomes a massive infrastructure network of pipes and roads. So where the cattle go, where the farming goes I've got no bloody idea. Pip's story now goes up against all comers at the World Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, for water and a pipeline for gas in Canada in September. Kathy McLeish will join her in Ontario after judges felt this story from western Queensland deserved a gong too. KATHY MCLEISH: Floodwaters pouring in from central Queensland and torrential inland rain have filled waterholes and wetlands. Some of the animals and plants which have come to life are rarely seen in the desert. Scientists are mounting expeditions to try to learn what they can before the water and the new animals and plants disappear again,

as they must. Well done you two and same goes for the cinema cameramen, the sound recordists and the editors who make this show look and sound as good as it does each and every week. I hope you can join us next time

when Kerry Staight reports a Landline special report on arguably the most pressing issue in global agriculture - food security. If there are major food collapses in Asia, for example, central Asia, India, the north China plain, North Africa, there will be refugees in their tens of millions going in all directions.

And at that point we all become food insecure. Feeding a hungry world, an extended report next week. Bye for now. (Closed Captions by CSI)