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And in Canberra this afternoon there

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in sport, the Australian ennis

Samantha Stosur is through to the in sport, the Australian ennis player

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she beat Germany's unseeded

Kerber 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.

Kerber 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Stoser is now she beat Germany's unseeded Angelique

step closer

step closer to becoming Kerber 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Stoser is now a This Program is Captioned Live. # Theme music we look at a bright idea On Landline today, to work in the bush. to encourage graduate wait teachers

that's for six months. This is a pilot,

it in another university. it throughout Australia Yes, I'd like to see way forward in teacher education. because I think it really is the season for citrus growers. It's a bittersweet is making it hard to sell. A bumper crop but the high dollar After of the drought,

a lot of growers has cash out there. if it continues for a few years But I think this one, in the industry. it will be tough to keep growers And resilience on the rangelands,

Boulia to take stock. graziers gather at welcome to Landline. Hello, I'm Anne Kruger,

from Ag Show in Toowoomba. And we are coming to you this week on the show circuit One of the major regional events on how agribusiness is travelling. and a particularly handy barometer Rabobank's Justin Harrison A little later we will catch up with rural confidence survey. on the company's latest

live export ban, There is no doubt that the with the Carbon Tax, the unknown that goes compared to the US dollar, the high Australian dollar, up in the north the cane guys from from last year's stand over cane, trying to harvest what is left over actually pick what is left the guys further south looking to cotton crop - of their flood damaged is pretty low, Generally their sentiment blaming on outside influences. and a lot of this they are actually First up, a lot about the difficulties over the years we have heard of coaxing doctors out of the cities. has the same trouble. Well, the teaching profession and scholarships in place There is a variety of incentives around the country, want to stay in the big smoke. but the fact is most young teachers A unique and innovative scheme Adelaide's Flinders University initiated by is aiming to turn the tide.

final year teaching students For the first time, spend six months in a country school were offered a chance to in the local community. and become ensconced

like it so much they'd stay. The hope was they would As Prue Adams reports, pilot program are just in the results for this and they are fascinating. See you later. See you buddy. Oh Really? (Child giggles) to breaking the mould. Leigh Rainer is accustomed At 22 he is married with a baby son. an innovative program He has also signed on to familiarity of their Adelaide home which took all three of them from the an innovative program He has also signed on to I spoke to my wife, Laura. She was a bit reluctant at first in what we were going to do. but she said she'd support me year teaching student in March. Landline caught up with the fourth of the first term, It was near the beginning after the deluge up river the Murray was at its peak getting some hands on experience and the young Mr Rainer was at Loxton High School. as a science and phys ed teacher you to do today I thought what we would get

your overarm clears is set you up as video tape what you are doing. so you can see into the community really well - We seem to have been taken

the school has been fantastic. The school as well, working part-time at the school There's a lot of young mothers at the moment. and also on maternity leave and welcoming to Laura as well. All of them have been really warming So, that has helped her fit in. progressing wonderfully. I think Leigh is He is a delightful young man.

actually have my utmost respect All of the students because this is a pilot project

undertaken a leap of faith. and they've very much has been at the helm of Loxton High For 15 years Kent Spangenberg impressive ship. and he runs a tight and a university campus. The grounds resemble There are no fences or sirens. to wear a uniform. Although students are expected obvious appeal Yet, despite the school's had increasing difficulty the principal has quality staff. in attracting and keeping important to differentiate I think it is also between rural and remote, a rural environment. and certainly this is you know, It is a very attractive environment, that sort of thing and yes, being on the river and being able to fill some vacancies, we still have difficulties in subject area is, depending on what the are clearly exacerbated but I think those difficulties when you go to the remote areas of the state. Mr Spangenberg has been involved with a program that encouraged medical students to pursue rural practise. Mr Spangenberg has been involved with a program where they have an extended placement in a rural area then surely it can work for education. Then a year and a half ago, John Halsey contacted me and said, 'This is what I am thinking.' I said, 'There is some irony around this, because I had this thinking for around four or so years.' I shared the experience I had in medicine and... In the rural urban split - one way I put it to my students is, that urban is the privileged site.

Professor John Halsey at Flinders University School of Education wants to turn around the negative perceptions of working in the bush. Rural education, Rural leadership, working and living in rural communities, is leading edge stuff. It is where we need our best and brightest,

our most innovative and most creative. He is not just talking from the lofty position of a city-based academic. our most innovative and most creative. He headed up the country directorate of the South Australian Education Department and worked on national rural education bodies. Overall, I think you could say there is still quite a bit of challenge associated with attracting and retaining high-quality staff

for rural schools and as a rule of thumb, the more rural, if you like, and remote schools are, the more challenges are associated with the process of attracting and retaining staff. With the support of participating principals, Professor Halsey, for the first time this year, offered his final-year teaching students an extended six-month placement in a country school. Normally, six weeks is the best they could do. The thought behind placing students for an extended period in a rural community and a rural school, was that they experience first-hand what it is like to teach and live in a rural community. To move from the theoretical, the Power Point, the what you can learn online, to actually experiencing it. Because, I think, as most people know, the real thing is the real thing. Eight students took up the offer, Leigh Rainer was one of them. April Crollig another. Some people find that they are trapped if a small rural town and want to leave. My objective was always to come back and work in public schools especially in rural communities, especially in the Riverland. Mrs Crollig is in her element. Back in her home town at Berri Primary School.

If you could just have your health books out, please. We will be doing the brainstorm first of all. The 22-year-old started before the school year began and observed the curriculum being set up. Initially, experienced teacher, Tom Triffinof, led the classroom work. She has one main mentor teacher, but she is also working in a team of three teachers so she is getting a lot of experience from those three teachers around her and is fitting in with the staff really, really well. So I've decided to just start by observing how the classroom works, how the school functions, get basic routines like child behaviour management, things like that sorted,

so I know what to do once I do start teaching. As the semester wore on though, April Crollig took control of the year 6/7 class. What else goes with checking the depth, Corey? Like, another rule, something we should remember? When you are near a river, you should use a stick to check how deep the water is. I already see things that I'd like to take from other teachers. Like, what they've got, use their knowledge and twist it in my own little way, mould it, so I can put a little - get the kids really involved.

While she might now feel like a teacher, the fact is, April is still a student and that means getting her own homework done. Start by saying welcome to two topics in here... Lectures that she would have attended at Uni are streamed online.

Fitting them in, along with almost full-time teaching duties and community involvement,

does prove a stretch. Fast forward to August. And as the students filled in post-practicum surveys it was a common complaint, squeezing in homework with teaching duties was tough. I want to say, maybe just the study and stuff. I understand some people were amazing, and could just knock it out,

but I found that was a huge workload. Perhaps if there was a way to get the Uni work done before we went up there, like two weeks intensive or something?

Once it was over and done with, I was able to focus on just teaching the students and I became better in the classroom. Instead of thinking in the back of my mind, 'Tonight I have to go home, plan this lesson and then also do my assignments.'

Has the experience done anything about your preparedness, interest, John Halsey brought the group together for a warts and all assessment of the program. It definitely reaffirms for me that I would be happy to be out of the city and that would be more first preference for sure. I think you really get a good sense of the community and what it means to be a part of that community. I wasn't afraid to apply for country jobs for next year after having done this program because I know that I'll be okay as a result of being out there for so long. I know a lot of people say, 'Yeah, I'd never go country.' And unless you have actually been in a country school you kind of don't really know what it is like. And I think I was at a lovely school and I don't think I would be able to find a school that nice in the city. Apart from the workload, another major drawback emerged.

Each student received around $3,500 but discovered funding lives away from families and part-time jobs was tricky. While April could live with her parents in Berri, other students were paying two lots of rent, in the city and the country. Their school commitments made it next to impossible to get part-time work in their country town. It was constantly at the forefront of our minds. Like, 'Oh my gosh, where am I going to get the money to pay the rent, buy the food.' So, I think, that needs to be assisted in some way. We are at the end of the semester now, did it work? I'd say it did. It's got some areas of fine-tuning and probably a bit more than fine-tuning. But the feedback that I've got from the students, from the supervising teachers, from the host principals, from a few people I've met in the community, it's been a very big success. So, April, it's about five months since we visited you

at the Berri Primary School, how did it go in the end?

Oh, fabulous. I had the best time - the most challenging time of my life, but at the same time one of the best experiences. All of the people doing the program for teaching for six months and not getting paid for it. Being in a school solid for six months full-time and not getting paid for it. That was difficult. All round that was difficult. So reworking that at the very least, finding a way of being able to work it differently or providing a bit more support financially and otherwise for anyone that does this in the future would, I think, go a long way to the success of the program. Having said that, Leigh Rainer's wife, Laura, was so taken by Loxton that she now has a job in the hospital there. Young Isaac is happily ensconced in day care and his dad is now commuting from their home in Loxton to his studies 250 kilometres away in Adelaide. The school I was at, Loxton, is a fantastic school. That is definitely somewhere - the sort of place I would love to be able to go back and teach at. The Riverland is somewhere we would like to stay as a family, I think,

at least for the mid-term. Which, of course, is exactly what the program aimed to achieve. be able to go back and teach at. As for the extended placement program, it will almost certainly get another go next year. I can see it being rolled out. I can see it growing. I can't see it not growing in one sense but it will need these enablers and it will need the finance. This is a pilot, it is for six months. Yes, I'd like to see it in other universities and yes, I would like to see it thought Australia because I think it really is the way forward in teacher education.

We are really keen to make the links between the university and with our teachers. If take home message is Australia needs vibrant, productive rural communities. And that being the case, what we have to do is ensure those who live and work there have access to high quality education and other human services. The bottom line is that costs a few dollars but it is a very good investment given what we know is coming up,

which is a world with 40% more people by the year 2050.

And that's going to create, in my estimation, huge new challenges for rural Australia and for a nation as a whole. We have to utilise all of our intellectual capacities. That means the intellectual capacities which both reside in rural areas, as well as those which service rural areas. led by cow supply, which was in fact down six percent. Year-to-date, slaughter numbers are more than 100,000 head behind the 2010 figure. Weak exports and good seasonal conditions are the two key factors for this fall. Prices now - yearling feeder steers did best.

As mentioned, cows were popular. Restockers were active but processors have also been busy. And the live trade is getting busy as well. The first shipment out of Queensland to Indonesia since the end of the ban left Townsville last week. Wellards loaded the ocean shearer with more than 6,000 head.

There'll be a top-up in Darwin. Wellards boss Steve Meerwald was in Townsville and wanted to point out the overseas impact of the ban as well as the substantial local losses. Look, I think we've seen the producers and support industries across northern Australia

being quite vocal about the impacts it's had on them and their families, both in terms of their own personal well-being, their ability to cope with their total loss of income, in some cases, and in Indonesia we're seeing the same thing. There are some 14 or 15,000 individual small farmers

that supply the feedlotting industry in Indonesia, and they also felt their whole income and support systems fall down around them, and as a consequence of that, had trouble feeding their families, paying education - all of the impacts that come from devastating loss of income. That's Steve Meerwald from Wellards in WA. Now, export prices out of Darwin remain very strong. Exporters are in fact struggling to get cattle at the right weight.

So steers are $2 and heifers a bit less, I'm told there's also an emerging market for breeder cattle to Indonesia. Our ovine friends were in demand last week.

Processors were chasing younger lambs, while ewes dominated the older market and this created interest from restockers and the meatworks. So, our indicator lamb category lifted 17 cents, while mutton slipped over the 400 cent mark, for the first time in several weeks. That price is 43 cents behind this time last year. Pork and bacon rates are reported as stable. Producers are hoping for a lift heading into the Christmas period, and as usual there's a heap of imported product available. To grains now, where traders appear stuck between differing views on sovereign debt problems in Europe, the Obama incentive package, and increasing crop losses, especially in America. This has put the frights into the broader equity market

but Chicago and New York appear to have held up reasonably well. That's a new contract for soybeans, but it's still the best price since early this year. And despite that minor hiccup, the forecast for corn is still bullish, while wheat is perhaps the most sensitive to outside influences. It's also worth pointing out Russia and other Black Sea countries remain big into exports, and now India has lifted its ban on exports for the first time in years. All this points to a challenging time ahead for Australian wheat sales. Local futures are relatively steady. The next few weeks will be crucial, especially for crops in the east. Most areas report the need for a drink, but not too much. Almost as big a worry as the weather is the looming problem of logistics in grain country. It seems certain there'll be major issues with freight and storage come harvest time. In New York, sugar slipped a fraction while cotton lifted on the back of weather concerns in America. That sugar price is still strong in historical terms, and there's data which suggests there's still some upside available. Finally to wool, where the volatile exchange rate remains an issue. Some moans, I'm told, out of China about current prices, but they still had a big bite at last week's offering. There was support from India and Taiwan while buyers from Europe were pretty scarce. So the eastern market indicator closed at 1,294 cents, that was a lift of 1.9%. And that's the Landline check on prices. Commodity prices are obviously an important indicator of how agribusiness are travelling.

And so are the regular economic surveys conducted by a range of analysts, including specialist rural lenders. With me with Rabobank's Queensland and Northern Territory manager, Justin Harrison to discuss the results of its latest quarterly rural confidence survey of 1200 primary producers nationwide. Justin, welcome to Landline. Thank you. Rabobank has been conducting these surveys for 11 years and we would have expected perhaps a positive survey result given that we've finally been experiencing some good weather conditions across much of Australia but it hasn't been the case, has it? Well, you're right, Anne, that the seasonal conditions have actually been quite good but the sentiment out there in amongst the producers is actually quite reserved and the survey results actually reflect that. What were the results of the survey? Well, I'd like to say we did have some good news, with the exception of Tasmania, that is, still bubbling along okay, most of the rest of the country is showing negative sentiment. OK, let's look at some of the survey results in detail. Around 1 in 3 farmers expect trading conditions to worsen in the coming year. Nearly three times as many as the previous quarter. Slightly more think things will remain about the same while one in five believe the agricultural economy will improve, Less than half as many as the previous survey. How does this compare to this time last year? If we get a little specific and go to the Queensland analysis, basically we had four quarters of positive growth in Queensland and now we have had the lowest recording in 9 years. As much as anything there seems to be a lot of anxiety about government policies and the direction of them, take the ban on the live cattle trade and, of course, the Carbon Tax

and how that is affecting people in the bush. There is no doubt that the live export ban, the unknown that goes with the Carbon Tax, the high Australian dollar, compared to the US dollar, the cane guys from up in the north trying to harvest what is left over from last year's standover cane, the guys further south looking to actually pick what is left of their flood damaged cotton crop. Generally their sentiments are pretty low and a lot of this they are blaming on outside influences. Indeed the survey found that the fall in farmer confidence appears to have been influenced more heavily by factors outside rather than inside the farm gate. Perhaps not surprisingly half the respondents nationally believe coal seam gas exploration threatens agriculture, while only 7% saw it as an opportunity, and the opposition was particularly pronounced in Queensland and New South Wales. And as you walk around shows like this, between Queensland and the Northern Territory that you are focused on, do you find it is a good barometer of just seeing how people are feeling, what is sentiment is? Oh, absolutely. You can tell by the number of carry bags that people are toting around and what is inside those as to what their sentiment is. Even though we said before that the season is actually quite good and the markets are still reasonably strong, their perception of what might happen to their businesses in the future

is a little more reserved. As you will notice today the carry bags are pretty empty. When expressed as a graph this is blah the empty feelings look like. A very sharp turnaround in rural confidence

from the previous quarter and the most negative sentiment, in more than two years. And finally with all this pessimism about, is there any hope,

or what can we expect in the short to medium-term outlook? As I said, the season is pretty good. The outlook for commodity prices is reasonable. There is expectation that our dollar will ease just a little against the US,

but maybe it won't shrink much under parity. On that basis, the overall outlook is going to be pretty reserved for a little while. Well, unfortunately, on that negative note we will leave it there for now, but thanks very much for joining us, Justin Harrison. As we have just heard the high Aussie dollar is not good news for anyone in the business of exporting. In grains and beef, yield and strong demand with offset some of the pain. Not so with citrus, where the bumper crop of naval oranges this year has been all but priced out of lucrative markets like the US. And it is likely to stay tough, for as long as the dollar stays above parity. But as Chris Clark reports, growers are fighting back and looking for new ways to compete. The Mildura Fruit Company is one of the country's biggest citrus packers and right now it is humming. These are naval oranges, widely regarded as the best eating orange and the best of the best will be packed for export. We supply about 25 countries through Asia, Japan, the Middle East and the US. We're looking to grow the domestic market a little bit but in a year such as this where there is so much supply it is difficult to do that. I would expect this year we would probably still send 75% of our fruit through export.

Perfect conditions and plenty of irrigation water have meant a big crop.

The bad news is an Australian dollar that has climbed steadily from 80 something US cents to nudge $1.10. It is the sort of fruit that would go for export, top quality stuff? Yeah, this is class one fruit destined for the USA. Fruit for the US market is sold on consignment, which means it is not a set price. And it faces stiff competition from South America -

Chile, in particular. USA is a consignment market, and is the best returning market for many years Now, with the high Aussie dollar this fruit might sell in the States for US$26. By the time the packers are paid and all the handling and import/export charges are deducted what is left over is what the grower gets. That is converted back into Aussie dollars with devastating results.

The return to the growers will be well reduced purely because of the impact of the Australian dollar. So, typically two years ago they might have got $10 for this box of navales, returns to the grower this year might be in the nature of $4 or $5. But it gets worse. Not everything is class one fruit, the highest quality. So, lesser quality is scarcely worth picking. So Kevin, these are naval oranges you haven't picked just not worth it? No, Chris, because of the high Australian dollar, the export market is very flat for this sort of fruit so we have just leave it behind. There is no return for me at all in this. What happens to it now? It will just fall all on the ground. There is probably a third of the crop we have grown and we have had to move on to another variety later on. Kevin Cox is a citrus industry veteran. The last time he was on Landline he was chopping down trees because there was no water. Those years of low water allocation saw many people leave the industry and many more come to rely on other income to keep going. Now because of the high dollar, second-grade fruit that might have gone to India, Bangladesh or Indonesia, sits on the trees, unable to justify the cost of picking. After the drought a lot of growers did cash out then. I think this one, if it continues for a few years,

will be a tough one to keep growers in the industry. What's going to be your strategy to get through? A couple of things. My son has gone working for the mining when he is not working here. The other thing is we have tightened the belt pretty tight. We know that these trees run on low water. Labour is a big cost, we need to look at that, but you have to pick every orange off by hand.

Tanya Chapman brought into citrus less than a decade ago and now chairs Citrus Australia, which is building the industry's national profile. These are navels. These are naveles. Where are they going? They will be going to a mix of Japan, the US, maybe some to India, some other Middle East countries. Citrus is a long-term investment, and the first challenge is choosing the varieties the market wants.

Tanya, with such a long lead time with citrus how do you make decisions about what sort of varieties to put in the ground? Oh, well, research on consumer trends and the way people are looking to eat and you do need to get it right. It is 25 years plan that you really look at. It takes you about five years to get your first full crop of citrus and you want them in the ground about 25 years. In a season like this one, with the dollar so high and returns so low, Tanya Chapman faces the same dilemma as many other growers. I could easily leave half the fruit on these trees if returns don't start to pick up that could very well happen.

For the moment, the pickers are in but in some respects it is a bit hard to see why. Returns at the moment are going from anywhere between $50 a tonne for the stuff that isn't saleable on the market for the juice obviously, up to about $250 a tonne maximum. This costs me $300 a tonne to produce.

In a market where returns are lower than the cost of production,

growing more fruit isn't the answer. There is still that huge perception out there, even with a lot of growers,

they think that the more tonnes that they can produce per hectare the better grower they are. It is just not about that anymore. Growers need either to cut costs, or increase the price they get for the fruit, ideally both. One of the things that growers really do need to start doing is to really make sure they are understanding their business, all the way from the tree, the bin, all the way to the consumer. They need to get a handle on their costs. Do they need to cut costs? But you have to be very careful we are not cutting quality. It is difficult to cut costs, particularly when citrus has to be hand picked and that's the biggest single cost. The only way to get more for fruit is to produce a higher quality orange. The most common reason fruit's downgraded in quality is because of simple surface blemishes. What we are trying to do is open up the tree a little bit. Pruning trees to reduce the size of the crop can boost quality, fewer branchs less foliage means less chance of fruit being marked

in its early development. Scars and marks at maturity mean it will be judged lower quality. Normal citrus production you would aim for 50 tonnes to the hectare. But that means you will have 50 tonnes of very average sized fruit and probably that has quite a lot of marks on it. So, our aim is to have about 35 tonnes to the hectare of good quality class one fruit. And to us, that probably equates to almost $100 a tonne more in our pocket. Another way of dealing with the higher dollar

and the lower returns is to find another job. And that's exactly what David Stevens has done. He started a contract pruning business. Any bread and butter that goes on my table this year will be from pruning. In fact, I will be injecting funds into my citrus property this year. They are talking about negative gearing rental properties and things like this. I'm reverse gearing in a big way on an orchard. It is certainly putting the majority of my income that I make off pruning back into the orchard just so I can stay on the farm. But he is also trying to lift quality on his own property. So, that is what I am concentrating on doing this year, is reducing my yields back through pruning and other methods back to 30 tonne, so that I reduce first of all the largest overhead on the farm, the harvest, secondly the bin returns, as minimal as they are,

should be a touch higher. If I can get another $50 a tonne by doing this and reducing my costs, the money I earn off-farm through pruning can subsidise the farm for a further 12 months. By comparison with some of the overseas competitors the Australian citrus industry is small and comprised mainly of small growers. Some, like Frank Sos, also run their own packing sheds. Even though Frank Sos doesn't export any fruit the high dollar means fruit that might normally go offshore is now for sale in Australia. Frank Sos supplies the big supermarkets.

Here's what's happened to prices. $13 a carton, normally in a normal year is $18 is probably the lowest. That is in the middle of the season or something. Early in the season it could be $25 to $30 and then late in the season could be the same again. In an industry dominated by fairly small players the continuing high dollar really does have the potential to force people out.

Tanya Chapman says growers need to make some tough calls. It is very hard to invest if you are not turning a profit. Some of the things that growers can do is say, 'Okay, which of my varieties or which of my patches on my farm,

are the least profitable?' They are the ones they should go to work on first. If they are not making money, it is a business decision.

Take the emotion out of it. It is not all doom and gloom. New markets are opening up in Asia but that is a slow process. We do have some great export opportunities. This year, for instance, on our farm we did some extra work so we could get fruit into Korea and Thailand. That whole area has potential for Australian citrus into the future. These are the opportunities which make Greg McMahon optimistic. Optimistic enough to spend millions installing his own packing line in his shed. Greg McMahon is fairly new to the citrus industry and along with his business partners he shares a vision of how to succeed.

Greg McMahon is fairly new to the citrus industry where we need to consider our packing requirements for the future. And we think by running our own line and running it ourselves, it is another area in our business where we can reduce the cost of production. If we can get the cost of production down it will increase the return and even in the environment of a high dollar we think we can succeed over the long term with that sort of strategy. The heart of that strategy is quality, which starts in the orchard. In the case of these navel oranges, it means netting some fruit as a wind break to reduce skin blemish. You can see with this particular orange here there is not much blemish at all around it, wheras if it was outside the net, you might have found when it was young it would rub against a leaf or another piece of fruit and cause a scar. Netting is very expensive and Greg McMahon freely admits they don't know yet whether it will pay off through higher quality fruit. It roughly doubles the cost of planting an orchard, from the start once you take into account the irrigation system, the tree planting and the work that has to go into that and then putting up the net. It is a big investment and it needs to make a return to the farm once everything is taken into account. But in all honesty we won't know that for two or three years yet once we get down to the financial analysis of it. According to Greg McMahon, even with higher costs Australian citrus has an edge. In Australia we've still got a competitive advantage versus our southern hemisphere competitors in South America and South Africa. We have to do more work to explain it but in my biassed view -

we grow fruit that's sweeter,

better looking and better consumer acceptance. He sees no future in an Australian citrus industry that doesn't go for quality. The biggest difference to the return to our shareholders and to us on the farm, is really to try to shift as much fruit as we can from third grade or second grade into first grade because if we can get what we refer to in the industry as a 'pack out ratio', which the amount of fruit you get in the first grade, if we can get that up, then we will be able to make a profit on farm even with the dollar at these sorts of levels. Australia's citrus growers are still mostly a collection of small businesses. Each, in a sense, competes against the other but all have a common goal - business success. Tanya Chapman chairs the national industry body Citrus Australia. Greg McMahon is a board member of Citrus Australia. So too is Kevin Cox, and they share the view that the future of citrus is in quality fruit for export. Japan has now become our highest volume market taking over from the US and also we've now got access into China as well. So, those markets will become key markets for us in the future.

Simplifying export rules and reducing costs will benefit everyone but getting governments to agree is painstaking.

Some of the protocols are amazingly difficult to satisfy and cost a lot more money and require us to run different parts of the farm differently. The more the Government can do to help us settle those protocols down

and give us consistency across markets the better. We are working very hard on all of those protocols and market access issues. And I really think that now is the time that we really have to really get into those as opposed to just saying that, 'Oh, I've just got to survive this season.' We do need to look long term. There is nothing much anyone can do about the dollar. Can you give me an idea of where the dollar has to be basically to make money in this business? We've really worked on that 85 around that. Once it started to go over 90 it got tougher and tougher. $1.06 is a real challenge.

And there are no guarantees the dollar won't go higher. Until the currency falls it will be tough going

and many growers might decide that rather than pack fruit it is time to pack it in. To Queensland's Channel country now, and the rangelands that invariably tend to swing between nature's extremes. After a decade of drought the region is now experiencing the flow-on effects of its third big wet in a row, a bumper season tempered by a high dollar, and disruptions to the live cattle trade. The one constant is the community's resilience as Kathy McLeish discovered in Boulia. In the bush, working with stock starts at a young age. ANNOUNCER: Boy oh boy, look at the pace! Put your hands together, ladies and gentlemen. There's your little ribbon! ANNOUNCER: Are you ready? Go! And it's not too long before the kids give their folks a run for their money. You know, got to have some competition out there. Make it a bit fun and a bit light-hearted. A bit more competition than you anticipated? Yeah, just a little bit. But the Boulia Gymkhana and Rodeo Weekend is much more than competition. It is a time to be neighbourly, even though neighbours here are often few and far between. It is not how big you are, it is the size of your heart. I probably could be biassed, I have been here forever and am a fifth generation. But I do a fair bit of travelling now, with my role as the Boulia Mayor and there is no place I would rather be, than coming home. The Boulia Shire covers a fair swag of far west Queensland

and there is no place I would rather be, than coming home. 62,000 square kilometres, it's got an odd road or two.

But only 450 people live in that huge landscape and many of them are enjoying the community spirit this weekend. The rodeo is a big part of what makes us all be able to be together and spend that time together. It is really a great, positive time for the people of the bush to have an outlet and a get together, you know. Young challengers have come in from far and wide to put their skills and their courage to the test for a very country kind of prize. For the buckle, If you can believe that. It must be like girls' jewellery. It's the buckle. They'll - the prize money is nothing,

it's that buckle that you - it's the bragging right at the bar that night. And I think the shiny sparkle must just take all that pain away. it's the bragging right at the bar that night. if he gets hurt and doesn't win he's sore for a long time.

If he gets hurt and wins, oh, he's up and bouncing around. Come on bud, see if we can make it two times in a row. Llewellyn Carne came to defend his 2010 Station Buckjump title. Ha! Ha! CROWD: Come on, Carney! Go, Carney!

But this year, the horse has taken the honours. How are you going? A lot better now that I'm off it. How are you? Are you all right? Yeah. Just a bit stiff in the leg, but yeah, just keep walking and we'll be right. I won last years - maybe next year, hey. Rick Britton says the Rodeo is a chance for young jackaroos and jillaroos to let off steam. It's just the challenge and the thrill of it. It is the adrenaline rush. ANNOUNCER: Oh! Out the side door. Been a rough day at the office today? Yeah, it's my first time, hey. Yeah. What do you think, will you be back? Oh yeah, for sure. That's not gonna scare me, a little injury. I'll be back. You look like you have lots of mates and friends? Yeah, yeah. That's all my in-laws. My missus' family.

Yeah, yeah, just a chance to get together and have some fun.

Rodeo's always been what, sort of, keeps us going. It's more than sport. It's a gathering of Australians who can live isolated lives at times so getting together means a great deal. The station's coming in, and with all the dramas and whatever happens around you get to talk and say, 'Well, how are you handling it?'

And all of a sudden, if you have problems, you realise you are not the only ones with those problems. So it's good therapy. Yeah. Very much so. The Boulia Rodeo is over for another year. Now all that's left to do is get together at the barbecue, and have a couple of drinks at the bar. A lot of the young riders have already loaded up and headed back to properties, because tomorrow they'll work. Many are still here, and while they are, they'll take the opportunity to share some knowledge about another very important aspect of their lives in cattle country. Oh, well, Boulia Shire is one of those, you know - it's Capital of the Channel Country. It's not a description the locals take lightly. Set between the head waters of the Georgina River and the Diamantina River, the Boulia Shire forms part of the Lake Eyre basin. It's a bonus. You've got the best of both worlds. A lot of the country here, if we don't get the rain we're in 9.5 inch rainfall season, if we don't get the wet season, our Channel Country is our saviour. We can carry onto it. If we do get the rain and the river at the same time we can turn on some massive heavy cattle. This is big sky country, and home of the Mitchell grass downs, extraordinary grazing country. Well, Channel Country, it just spreads out. We're probably here ourselves, probably got about 50,000 acres, if you can picture that going under water. And the moisture that it puts into the ground - you can't have rainfall, you can't have - 20 or 30 inches of rain won't put the moisture down into the ground. And that's where the Channel Country, it just runs out, spreads, and soaks into that soil. It's actually like soaking your lawn every five or six months. It really does grow the feed. The grasslands are driven by the harshest extremes of flood and drought, as they have been for the history of grazing in the Channel Country. We've got a big landscape here. You can't dictate what you do with this country. You need to work with it. Mother Nature makes the rules and you have to play her game. And it's a lot of management in that you've got to be aware of what your livestock are doing,

how your livestock respond, and also how the country is responding on different seasons. During this year's wet season the Georgina River was 70 kilometres wide in Boulia, but three years ago, a decade of drought had the district on its knees.

This country can usually run 200,000 head of cattle. After ten years of drought it was down to just 1,600. Local grazier, Kelsey Neilson, says Boulia's people have learnt to pace themselves. The cycles between the good and bad years can be a decade

so you need to be here for the long haul

to be part of the good and bad seasons. We are so connected to our land, absolutely, totally connected to our land, and it's not only for ourselves, it's for our children and their children. We do see the land management out here as a generational thing, and yes, we have to obviously run a viable business but it's more about staying connected and looking after that land for the future generations. As part of that stewardship, locals have invited in an expert to help them preserve and protect. This is a poster showing three different Mitchell grass plants all grown under exactly the same conditions. Dr David Phelps is a scientist with the Queensland Government specialising in Mitchell grass. But he says he's not the only expert on the subject. People who have managed their country for 20, 30 or 50 years, however long it might be, they have an intimate knowledge of their land. And so being able to bounce some of the science around

with people's practical observations and experience, it's terrific learning for all of us. If you can ensure you have good, healthy Mitchell grass and a good density of Mitchell grass in the pastures then you can ensure your production into the long term. So not just perhaps the next 6 or 12 months of production but we're talking the next 6 or 12 years of production. It really is about working with the rainfall patterns that you receive out here. But there's more than the weather which affects these producers. The bottom line is these are businesses. The market for stock has ebbs and flows. It's taken three years to build up the herds after drought. All were banking on this being a profit-making season. This season, to me, when everything - before the live export, was going to be the niche. We had feed, we had fat cattle, all the stars were lined up and all of a sudden they came along and pulled the rug out or something like that. So it was a bit of a kick in the backside. And we're gonna have a lot of extra steers come through. That's gonna put a dampener on the store market. We have 200,000 head of cattle that would normally go off our shores so they are now required to come back into southern markets. So they must corrupt the markets at three different levels. You'll have them coming in as store cattle because they are not slaughterable now. They need to grow and fattern. So they're going to affect the store market originally.

In 12 months time when they do grow and fatten, they'll come out at once and affect that market. And then, when they actually are slaughtered and are in boxes of beef that amount of extra beef will affect that market. Kelsey Neilson says she was horrified by the images of animal cruelty which led to the temporary ban, but warns that closer to home there is suffering too. I'm quite concerned about the mental state of a lot of cattle producers across the north because of the fact that they have struggled for so long, and I am one of them, through 10 years of drought and I know what that is like and the toll that takes on you emotionally. And they had just actually seen the light at the end of the tunnel. They had grass in the paddocks, they had their cattle numbers rising and they were seeing a future, and now that's just been taken away from them. And I'm really very concerned about people. To the compassionate Australians who want live export banned I would say to them that I understand their compassion, but they don't understand, and that a ban is not the answer and that we can find a solution that helps animal welfare and keeps northern Australia - the guardians of the outback - keeps them viable on their properties. No doubt there's more ups and downs to be had in cattle country. But over this weekend, at least, a couple of days of serious and sometimes idle chatter will help build resilience. Our community is very strong because we all know each other. We all know our faults and weaknesses, and we accept those and we work together and we all help each other out - if there's a crisis, we know we can rely on our friends and neighbours. It's like a big family and it's a real advantage of living in a small community. We wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Isolated, but not alone. Every person who lives in Boulia, is a very important part of our community in that linkage. And that's what makes it so great. Another fairly good week for rain across the country, all the signs are positive for the summer, we hope. First, let's check the Southern Oscillation Index. There's the graph, and you can see the 30 day moving average now stands at plus 4.8.

That's okay, and nowhere near the reading at this time last year, dreadful summer floods. ahead of those to the national rainfall map Moving now for the past week. over farming country in the east. There was good rain Queensland could do with more. and of course the western Wheatbelt Elsewhere, conditions are okay, of those weekly showers. needs a continuation handy rain at Meandarra in Queensland To numbers now, that was 14 millimetres. where the gauge came to Dunedoo in New South Wales had 31.

Mitta Mitta in Victoria scored 28. Meander in Tasmania had 12. Roxby Downs in South Australia. 5 was the reading at

recorded 20 millimetres, Bond Springs in the Territory the WA Wheat Belt had 7 millimetres. while Boodarock in That's the rainfall roundup, snazzy way of explaining the weather? but how's this for a as scientists like to call him, This is Ridgy, or, the 'subtropical ridge.' four major drivers Ridgy is one of the

Victoria's seasonal weather. that shapes So let's look at how he does it. continually rises, As warm air in the tropics moves south, then cools and falls, are created. large areas of high pressure in this case, Ridgy - These high pressures -

blocking rain-bearing fronts. are great at Ridgy chases away cold fronts From November to April,

for days or even weeks at a time. around Southern Australia cold fronts sneak through Occasionally, with moist air from the tropics - and if they connect called Climate Dogs it's part of a very clever series for Victoria's DPI. created by animator Clem Stemation

a bit of humour as well. It wanted to add more interesting to watch. I wanted to make it little characteristics So giving them

a little bit more fun I guess. that made the whole thing a big hit online Although the campaign has proven as part of the DPI's it is primarily designed for farmers. meteorological extension work because farmers know I guess farmers really like it, from one year to the next. their seasons vary a lot there's moisture coming And when they understand how or the Indian Ocean from either the Pacific Ocean of the cold fronts down south - or it's about the pattern climate driver behind it, when they understand there is a it really makes a lot of sense to farmers. We often get the comment that they are saying,

'This is actually explained in a way we really understand.'

And it leads on to then looking at, 'OK, we accept these climate drivers affect our local district, what are they up to this spring?' So then we have monthly newsletters called The Break,

and there's another one for dairy farmers called Milking the Weather. Which just sort of says, 'Now you know the Indian Ocean Dipole affects your part of the world, what's it up to this spring? And here's the latest on what the science is telling us about how that is shaping up.' And it's proven to be a big hit in other ways, too, taking out a gong at this year's Scinema Science Film Festival. And that's the Landline check on rainfall.

Next week, with the Rugby World Cup now in full swing

we'll see what a positive force this game is proving to be in a small community that's taken more than its share of hard knocks lately. All the stuff that grinds farmers in rural communities down - we can come here on a Thursday night, train pretty hard, go back to the pub and have a few drinks and a lot of laughs, and, you know, have a serious conversation

with one another about the problems we faced. It helps us deal with life on the land. The game they play in heaven,

with the down-to-earth healing properties. One of our stories when Landline returns next week. I hope you will join us again then. Bye for now. Closed captions by CSI.