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Is a $100B target for agriculture ambitious enough?

Richard Heath - Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) recently held its first meeting with the new Agriculture and Water Resources Minister, David Littleproud. In this meeting the NFF emphasised the goal for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry by 2030. That target would require another $30 billion to be added to the value of agriculture (including forestry and fisheries) over the next 13 years, a significant growth in output and one that is not going to happen by accident.  View the rest of the post here

 
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Sidelining regional education is a short-sighted solution

Richard Heath - Monday, January 08, 2018

Is the Western Australian Government cutting its own regional development throat by closing remote schools? View the rest of the post here

 
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Why farmers don't make 'rational' decisions

Richard Heath - Thursday, December 14, 2017

I discovered the presence of human life in a place where economists thought it did not exist: the economy”. This is how Richard H. Thaler amusingly described the behavioural economics research for which he was recently awarded the Nobel prize for economics. View the rest of the post here

 
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#glyphosateisvital but do consumers agree?

Richard Heath - Monday, October 23, 2017

In the next few days the European Commission is scheduled to vote on whether to extend the registration of glyphosate, the active ingredient of the worlds most widely used weedkiller, Roundup. If an extension is not approved, it will essentially lead to the banning of glyphosate in Europe. Despite the overwhelming balance of evidence pointing to glyphosate being safe, and essential for many farming systems, it appears that the vote will be going down to the wire in what has become an overly politicised process. View the rest of the post here

 
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Consolidation limits opportunities for competitive innovation.

Richard Heath - Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Chicken meat producers are facing further consolidation in their industry with the closure of Baiada’s processing plant in Ipswich. The sector is already one of the most consolidated in agriculture with over 70% of the chicken eaten by Australian consumers supplied by two companies; Baiada Poultry and Inghams Enterprises. The producers supplying these companies (and other processors) typically do so under contract growing arrangements. View the rest of the post here

 
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Policy complacency looks likely to see multi-peril insurance fail

Mick Keogh - Sunday, July 23, 2017

As a looming drought in Western Australia appears increasingly likely to decimate grain production and farm incomes, there is some irony in the lack of enthusiasm shown by governments to firmly establish multi-peril insurance as a preferred option for farmers to reduce drought risk. Just as the first blowfly heralds the arrival of summer, so the first media drought stories inevitably herald demands for drought aid, and it seems governments will once again be caught scrambling for policy responses if current conditions persist.  View the rest of the post here

 
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Post-truth analysis of big agriculture ignores some hard truths.

Richard Heath - Thursday, July 06, 2017

Post Truth. An increasingly used term to describe modern politics, and one which will also be unavoidable in discussion of agriculture.  View the rest of the post here

 
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Food waste is not just a question of what is thrown out.

Mick Keogh - Sunday, May 28, 2017

A new program broadcast by the ABC last week focused on food waste, and the first episode took a good hard look at the amount of waste that occurs  - either because produce does not meet supermarket retailer or processor standards, or because consumers throw it out uneaten. The program highlighted some challenging issues for the food industry, but ignored some equally important aspects of food industry 'waste'.  View the rest of the post here

 
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Data - the new productivity and competition catalyst

Mick Keogh - Sunday, May 21, 2017

Imagine that you are a livestock farmer who has sold lambs that will be consigned to two different processors, and you are trialing two different ram sources in your prime lamb enterprise. Being able to identify the lambs from each ram source and compare the carcase characteristics of each bloodline group is going to be a key step in identifying which bloodline will best increase enterprise productivity. Imagine at the same time you also operate a cropping enterprise, and have managed to accumulate ten years of yield map data from your current harvester, which you use to apply variable rate crop planting and fertiliser programs that improve cropping productivity. You are now considering the purchase of a competing brand of harvester which promises better performance, but has incompatible yield map formats for your current planting equipment, and you potentially face the loss of the benefits arising from all the accumulated data if you switch. View the rest of the post here

 
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Regional development, structural adjustment and decentralisation: similar horses but different races

Mick Keogh - Sunday, April 23, 2017

There has been a fair bit of discussion over recent months of moves by the Australian Government to relocate government departments to regional cities and away from the major capitals. Some have interpreted the Government's actions as an exercise in "pork barrelling" specific electorates, presumably to curry political favour. Others have viewed the measures as a futile attempt to prevent or slow normal regional structural adjustment, in the wake of the mining boom. The government has defended the moves as part of a broader push to decentralise the Australian population, or at least to alleviate some of the population pressure in major cities. The confusing nature of the debate is unfortunate, as it runs the risk of tarnishing the notion of decentralisation, which seems to have some important potential benefits for the national economy. View the rest of the post here

 
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