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Despite the good times, risk remains the key feature of farming in Australia

- Monday, March 06, 2017

This week's annual ABARES Agricultural Outlook conference will no doubt have a strong celebratory mood, given the very positive seasonal conditions that have prevailed over the past twelve months for most of Australian farmers, and the generally strong commodity prices (save for cereals and dairy). However, the defining feature of the agriculture sector in Australia has always been risk, and there is little evidence that concerted efforts are being made during the good time to better prepare the sector for future risks. View the rest of the post here

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Decentralisation could cure a range of ills

- Tuesday, February 28, 2017

In a recent speech, former head of Treasury Ken Henry once again raised the concept of decentralisation as a means of addressing some of the challenges facing Australia's major cities - including congestion, high real estate prices and the struggle to provide adequate services and social support to the ever-expanding outer suburbs. The concept is not new and has considerable potential benefits, but Australian Governments don't have a good track record when it comes to implementation and the persistence needed to make these policies work.  View the rest of the post here

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US bans on illegal immigrant workers may benefit Australian farmers

- Monday, February 20, 2017

A key policy promise of US President Donald Trump during the recent US election campaign was to round up illegal workers and deport them, because these workers are 'taking the jobs of US citizens'. If enacted, this policy would have a very large adverse impact on US farming and the food processing sector, and in particular on the US horticulture sector and meat and poultry processing. The implications of these US policies for Australian agriculture are unclear at present, due to uncertainty about future US trade policies. View the rest of the post here

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Not a bad time to be a farmer

- Monday, February 13, 2017

The release by ABARES of Australian Commodity Statistics in December each year provides an opportunity to look at some of the longer-term trends occurring in the Australian agriculture sector, and there is no doubt that the most recent batch of statistics released paints a very positive picture for most sub-sectors. View the rest of the post here

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Agriculture doing all the work on reducing greenhouse emissions

- Monday, January 30, 2017

The Australian agriculture sector is almost entirely responsible for Australia meeting its international greenhouse emission commitments, with the sector being virtually the only economic sector to have reduced annual emissions since 1990, and also contributing more than 80% of the total emission reduction contracted under the Australian Government's Emission Reduction Fund (ERF) auctions. Greenhouse emission abatement projects contracted under the ERF are now generating an estimated $239 million in annual revenue for Australian farmers.  View the rest of the post here

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What does 2017 hold for Australian agriculture ?

- Monday, January 23, 2017

Attempting to forecast how Australian agriculture will fare in 2017 is an exercise fraught with risk, but it’s probably fair to assume that for most involved in the sector, 2017 will not be as good as 2016. Very favourable seasonal conditions combined with high livestock prices meant that the gross value of agricultural production will exceed $60 billion in 2016, about 16% higher than the average figure for the preceding five years,according to ABARESView the rest of the post here

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What goes faster - farmers or racehorses?

- Monday, November 14, 2016

The recent running of the Melbourne Cup provided an opportunity to compare the productivity gains by the thoroughbred racing industry and the Australian farm sector. By using improvements in the time of the winning horse as a proxy for productivity gains by the thoroughbred industry, and the recently published national agricultural productivity growth figures for Australia published by the US Department of Agriculture an interesting comparison can be made. Which sector do you think has enjoyed the greatest 'productivity growth'? View the rest of the post here

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An offer from farmers to help Michelle Bridges.

Bill Farmer - Monday, October 24, 2016
Dear Michelle, you might recall I wrote to you back in 2014 in response to some comments you made about farmers who were being secretly filmed as they went about their daily work on pig and poultry farms. At that time the farmers were complaining about animal welfare activists secretly breaking into farms and planting video surveillance equipment in the hope of obtaining footage of farmers mistreating their animals.  View the rest of the post here
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The changing face of Australian agriculture.

- Monday, September 26, 2016

The average Australian farmer now manages a business with an asset value of close to five million dollars, and is now spending an increasing amount of time managing staff and talking to technical advisors, rather than actually doing all the physical work on the farm. These two changes have significant implications when considering what skills the 'average' farmer will need in the future, and how new farmers will get a start in the sector. View the rest of the post here

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Is an Australia-UK trade agreement more cultural cringe than commercial reality?

- Monday, September 19, 2016

In the wake of the decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, there has been some speculation that the move will create opportunities for Australia, and that serious efforts should be made to negotiate a free trade deal between the UK and Australia. From the perspective of Australian agriculture, the proposal makes little sense and there appears to be much bigger trade opportunities much closer to home that need pursuing. View the rest of the post here

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