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Will ageing farmers limit future farm productivity?

Mick Keogh - Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Accepted wisdom is often a dangerous thing, as it provides an easy path for those wishing to advance a particular argument but who can't be bothered to first build the evidence. An example may well be the accepted wisdom that farmers as a general group are progressively ageing, and that this will result in reduced rates of productivity growth and a loss of competitiveness for the sector in the future.  View the rest of the post here

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To fix agricultural innovation, shut down G8 university agriculture faculties

Mick Keogh - Sunday, March 20, 2016

There is widespread recognition that all is not well with the agricultural innovation system in Australia, with agricultural productivity growth essentially stalling since 1997, and agricultural research and development funding in free-fall as state governments in particular use any excuse to shut down facilities and remove resources. It might seem illogical, but one way to improve the performance of the Australian agricultural innovation system may actually be to shut down agricultural faculties and schools in Australia's major universities. View the rest of the post here

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Thank big farms and chemicals for cheap food

Mick Keogh - Tuesday, March 08, 2016
The renewed interest in farming and how food is produced - stimulated by endless gourmet traveler and cooking shows on TV - is a positive development for the agriculture sector in Australia, bringing with it tourists, new customers, regional growth, investment, and even increased undergraduate enrollments in agriculture courses. But it also brings with it new risks for agriculture, that if not managed carefully could result in major disruptions and ultimately drive up the price of food. View the rest of the post here
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Policy insanity prevails on land clearing legislation

Mick Keogh - Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The resurgence of controversy in both NSW and Queensland about tree-clearing legislation highlights that little progress has been made in the past twenty years, and that a long-term resolution will never be achieved unless the fundamental inequity inherent in state and Australian Government policy associated with this issue is addressed.  View the rest of the post here

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Malthus, Ehrlich and other doomsayers still wrong about global starvation

Mick Keogh - Thursday, February 18, 2016

The latest agricultural outlook reports produced by the USDA, the FAO and others paint a picture of a world in which there is a growing oversupply of grain, where global grain production constantly exceeds previous records, and in which the number of people suffering starvation is steadily declining. It seems that Thomas Malthus, Paul R Ehrlich and even present day doomsayers like Bob Carr constantly underestimate the ability of the world's farmers to increase output, given the right market signals. View the rest of the post here

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Market realities hit - even in China.

Mick Keogh - Friday, February 05, 2016

The Chinese Government has maintained very significant agricultural market intervention policies over recent years, with the express purpose of trying to limit the income disparities between urban and rural China. A new policy document released by the Chinese Government seems to indicate that it has learnt some lessons, and will in future directly support rural incomes, rather than attempt to manipulate agricultural markets. View the rest of the post here

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Farm subsidies alive and well, and about to grow again

Mick Keogh - Tuesday, February 02, 2016

One of the noteworthy changes in global agricultural markets over recent decades has been the removal of the most 'production distorting' farm subsidies in the USA and Europe, and their replacement with income support policies that reduce unintended impacts on global markets. While from an Australian perspective the direct impacts of overseas subsidies on farmgate prices here in Australia have diminished, they have not disappeared completely. The imminent surge in subsidy payments to US (and Canadian) farmers as a result of low corn prices will still indirectly impact world grain markets, and therefore have an impact on Australian farmers.  View the rest of the post here

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Australian consumers facing increasing food prices

Mick Keogh - Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Food prices are always a 'hot-button' political issue globally, especially in developing nations where elevated food prices have triggered civil unrest and regime change over the past decade. Food prices have not commonly been a contentious issue in Australia, where a combination of high per capita levels of national agricultural and food production, and a fiercely competitive retail food sector have kept prices in check for extended periods. Food prices are likely to become a much bigger issue in Australia in the near future, however, as all the signs indicate that Australia's decade of low food prices is about to come to an end. View the rest of the post here

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Drumsticks replacing chops but Australians still love their meat.

Mick Keogh - Thursday, January 21, 2016

All the controversy over the Australia day advertisement promoting lamb has highlighted the reported increase of vegetarianism in Australia, which has been strongly promoted by animal welfare groups and others as a more ethical and healthy diet. Irrespective of the health and animal welfare merits of different diets, available statistics indicate that Australians are still pretty keen on meat, although have changed the type of meat they are consuming. View the rest of the post here

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W(h)ither the Godzilla El Nino?

Mick Keogh - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The predictions were dire, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Australia would face a "Godzilla" El Nino event during the second half of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016, with increased likelihood of severe droughts, heatwaves and other cataclysmic weather-related events. The media response was immediate, and predictable. Serried ranks of experts were called upon to outline in lurid detail the cataclysmic weather events that were likely to unfold, and the consequent disastrous impact they would have on Australian agriculture, in particular. And almost invariably, the closing comments identified that the likely severity of the weather events would be made even greater by the impact of human-induced climate change, and that  events were a foretaste of the dire climatic conditions farmers should prepare for in the future. View the rest of the post here

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