AFI in the News
SUE NEALES, The Australian, 21 February 2017
Australian Farm Institute director Mick Keogh welcomes the rebirth of buoyant sheep returns, hoping that will encourage greater diversification on cropping farms once again.
He is critical of the advice of many agricultural consultants in the early 2000s to farmers to get rid of all their livestock, based purely on figures showing profits per hectare were greater with wheat and that 10,000ha could be cropped by one farmer with big machinery.
MIKE FOLEY, The Land, 7 March 2017
'This project will help quantify potential opportunity and set us up for best practice in effective data use and commercial decision support across all agricultural industries in Australia,' said Australian Farm Institute executive director Mick Keogh, who is P2D advisory committee chairman.
'The first step will be to understand the constraints to speeding up adoption of big data and new technologies. Then there will be further questions on how to solve those problems, how to improve connectivity across farms,' Mr Keogh said. 'Importantly, we will look at what legal codes need to be in place around data and ownership – which is very uncertain at the moment.'
JAN DAVIS, The Mercury, 22 February 2017Many Australian farmers are holding out hope it might pave the way for more of their products to be exported to Britain, exports that have been limited under EU trading rules. But it seems things might not be that simple. Mick Keogh, from the Australian Farm Institute, has had a close look at the potential implications and reckons that there are still too many uncertainties to make any reliable assessments.
ANDREW MARSHALL, FarmOnline, 6 February 2017
Although farmers have started this year generally emboldened and optimistic about the industry’s overall health and prospects, the Australian Farm Institute (AFI) has noted some sobering realities, based on historic trends.
AFI executive director, Mick Keogh, said while a lot of market fundamentals were still solid and in general farm cash reserves were unusually good, the last time Australian agriculture recorded the sort of performance it achieved in 2017 was back around 2001.
'Forecasting how agriculture will fare in 2017 is an exercise fraught with risk, but it’s probably fair to assume for most it will not be as good as 2016,' Mr Keogh said.
TONI SOMES, GRDC Groundcover, 25 January 2017
As part of the project the Australian Farm Institute (AFI) has been tasked with the role of investigating how agricultural businesses in the United States are collecting, transferring and analysing data to provide farmers with decision-support tools that will lift productivity and improve management.
As guest speaker at the GRDC Grains Research Updates AFI research general manager Richard Heath says he will be using real life case studies to explain how digital data is providing practical benefits to US growers as part of his talk ‘Will digital ag deliver on the hype’.
'Big data has the potential to impact all agriculture so the "Precision to Decision" project is a very positive collaborative effort to work through the implications for data ownership, transfer and analysis in Australia,' Mr Heath said.
ISOBEL ROE, ABC News, 24 January 2017
AFI executive director Mick Keogh said 2016 looks to have been the peak in Australia's agricultural production for the past decade.
'I think a betting person would say the chances of that being repeated in  are probably not high,' he said.
Mr Keogh said prices for livestock and grains would probably fall slightly this year.
'In terms of livestock prices, we've got very high prices for both sheep and cattle, there's no great reason to suspect that they will fall greatly.'
'On the grain side, the world has got a lot of excess grain at the moment and Australia's just had a record grain harvest.'
Agribusiness View, 10 January 2017
'Not so long ago, only large concerns could afford to collect and analyse information within their business,' says Keogh. 'Now it costs much less to collect and access the data. There are also inexpensive tools and applications to compile and use the data in ways that assist production or, more significantly at this stage, help with marketing.'
'For example, very small-scale livestock producers can post information about things that would be of interest to their target market on their website, such as a commitment to animal welfare or sustainability, and link this to a barcode on the product packaging. This introduces opportunities for developing niche markets that, in the past, would have been much too expensive to access. In many cases, the sentiment of ‘get big or get out’ no longer applies.'
GEORGE YANG, Phoenix Satellite Television, 6 January 2017
Richard Heath, General Manager Research, Australian Farm Institute:
'Within that overall picture there are certainly extreme events that are localised. But as an impact on the overall average it wasn't significant enough to bring the overall average down.''Australia has always relied on foreign investment in agriculture since agriculture has been developed. Without that foreign capital coming in it would really limit the opportunities for expansion of Australian agriculture.'
MICHAEL MADIGAN, The Courier-Mail, 6 January 2017
Australian Farm Institute executive director Mick Keogh says arguments like those of Freebairn ‘reflect widespread community misunderstandings about the way drought subsidies actually work’ and drought provisions were overhauled in the past decade after a series of reviews.
Beef Central, 6 December 2016
In launching the Index, the Australian Farm Institute's executive director Mick Keogh said the institute was supportive of the index as it would provide and indicator of the performance of the Australian agricultural sector on a regular basis, and promised to help and encourage investors to include the sector as an important component of a balanced investment portfolio.
JAN DAVIS, The Mercury, 30 November 2016
One of the factors that has limited wider investors interest has been the difficulty in getting access to reliable, timely and relevant information on how the sector performs on basic business measures; and how performance compares to other possible investments.
Well, that's all about to change.
The Australian Farmland Property Index was launched recently at the Australian Farm Institute Roundtable Conference.
For the first time in the history of Australian agriculture, investors will have available a regularly updated Index which provides a measure of the investment returns being generated by the sector. This will enable investors to compare the sector's performance against that of other asset classes.
ANDREW MARSHALL, The Land, 24 November 2016
The Australian Farm Institute’s (AFI) agriculture roundtable conference has highlighted a few home truths behind the miserly levels of investor sector support for farming, but a lack of patient, long-term investment interest was not really one of them.
AFI’s research general manager, Richard Heath, said financial advisory group BDO had observed investment funds were cautious about ag largely because not enough “investable products” were available, and funds “expected” levels of return would be too low.
Too few asset managers covered the sector and information about agricultural investment was insufficient.
MICHAEL KOZIOL, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 November 2016
Executive director of the Australian Farm Institute Mick Keogh said the usefulness of the register was limited because investment was "a constantly moving feast".
SUE NEALES, The Australian, 2 November 2016
The agriculture sector needs more options and different models for raising capital than reliance on the traditional bank loan, overdraft or farm mortgage debt, if it is to meet growing food production demands.
A report from the Australian Farm Institute has found farmers and agricultural businesses overseas have access to more alternatives, mainly because farming in Australia continues to be viewed as volatile, high risk and unattractive to investors.
ANDREW MARSHALL, Farm Online, 1 November 2016
Relying on bank debt as the main source of funding for farming businesses will likely limit the sector's future growth says the Australian Farm Institute (AFI).
Unlike farm businesses internationally, Australian farmers still rely almost solely on bank debt to pay for expansion and productivity improvements and cover seasonal running costs.
A newly-released AFI report has explored trends in funding and business structures within Australian farming, including alternatives to bank lending packages which are expected to be required to pay for the sector's future expansion.
Farm bank debt has jumped from around $10 billion to $60b in the past 25 years.
GEORGE LEKAKIS, The New Daily, 8 September 2016
According to Mick Keogh, executive director of the Australian Farm Institute, Australia is among the least effective marketers of food products in the world.
While countries such as New Zealand and Canada have built global food companies through careful development of brands and distribution networks, Australia is increasingly focused on selling un-branded food commodities via bulk contracts.
Mr Keogh believes this is a big weakness of the Australian economy that could result in the local economy missing out on jobs and profits.
'If you're supplying only commodities you're subject to the raw laws of supply and demand in global markets,' he said.
'The strategic advantage rests in the hands of those food producing companies who own globally recognised brands.'
MATT WALSH, Xinhua, 7 September 2016
Executive director of the Australian Farm Institute, Mick Keogh, said it would come as a surprise to many Australians that China did not appear to own more agricultural land, particularly as the federal government had been hesitant to sell Australia's largest pastoral company S. Kidman & Co. to a Chinese conglomerate.
LUCY BARBOUR, ABC News, 7 September 2016
Executive director of the Australian Farm Institute Mick Keogh said he was surprised China did not appear to own more.
'It may well be that the Chinese interest has been in industries like the dairy industry and farms in southern Australia, and again they are smaller acreages but perhaps more productive,' he said.
'But certainly you would have anticipated that Chinese interests would have been higher up the register than that.'
Mr Keogh said the strong UK ownership could be attributed to Australia's colonial past.
'Certainly vestiges are very prominent in ownership of land and also the major pastoral houses in Australia all had English origins, so I guess what we are seeing is a continuation of that historical link that has always been there,' he said.
ROD McGUIRK, The Big Story, 6 September 2016
Mick Keogh, executive director of the Australian Farm Institute think tank, suspected China would rank higher among foreign owners if the agricultural assets were measured by value instead of area.
But even on the measure of area, he was surprised that China was not a larger investor.
'From all the discussions and all the noise, we would've thought that number was much higher,' he said.
RICHARD HEATH, GRDC newsletter, 5 September 2016
Australian agricultural businesses are capital intensive. In 2015, the average Australian broad-acre farm business involved assets valued in excess of $4.2 million; a figure much greater than is the case for many small to medium sized businesses in the Australian economy. Historically, and particularly over the last two or three decades, farmers have secured the capital required to operate their businesses utilising debt financing from financial institutions such as banks. Total farm debt in Australia as a result has increased dramatically over the last few decades to approximately $60 billion in 2013.
SHAN GOODWIN, The Australian Dairyfarmer, 31 May 2016
Executive director at the Australian Farm Institute Mick Keogh says no.
"Globally the trade in live animals is rapidly increasing as agriculture trade barriers are reduced and nations become specialised in livestock production systems and integrated into multinational supply chains," he said.
"For Australia to abandon live exports would simply hand major markets over to competitors, none of which have anywhere near equivalent animal welfare standards or programs."
SARINA LOCKE, ABC Rural, 8 June 2016
The Australian Farm Institute's conference in Sydney highlighted how digital technology was "fundamentally changing agriculture", away from skills-based management to a more industrialised model, where decisions are based on objective data.
Among the Australian ag tech companies leading the way is The Yield, which has recently developed a risk assessment app for the Tasmanian oyster industry.
Founder Ros Harvey, of the Queensland University Technology, worked with Barilla Bay Oysters, which wanted to calculate the risks to oysters from contamination after rain.
Global politics from the US presidential contest to Brexit, means the era of trade liberalisation could be over
ROSE GRANT, ABC News, 16 August 2016
Australian Farm Institute executive director, Mick Keogh, says global politics from the US presidential contest to Brexit, means the era of trade liberalisation could be over.
ROSEMARY GRANT, ABC Rural, 16 August 2016
A strong upward trend in commodity prices since 2000 appears to be at an end, according to Australian Farm Institute executive director Mick Keogh.
He blames a return to political rhetoric for limits on free trade as responsible for stagnation in prices.
Mr Keogh told Tasmanian grain growers the polarisation of international politics from the US to the UK and Europe appears to be ending 15 years of increasing trade in food and agriculture under lower tariff regimes.
"It's certainly quite an important factor associated with that growth in agricultural trade volumes, as China and other countries opened up their markets," Mr Keogh said.
"Whether you look at Brexit or the influence of Trump, there's a return to nationalism, he's anti-free trade.
MICK KOEGH, The Land, 15 August 2016
Debates in Australia about land clearing are seemingly unending, in part due to the failure of many involved to recognise some basic truths, and in part due to the very significant divide between media reports about the issue, and what the available statistics actually say about land clearing rates.
Starting with the statistics that are published about land clearing, and the divide between that and what the media actually reports, the latest official report released by the NSW Government on land clearing rates in the state are a classic example.
MICHAEL MADIGAN, The Courier-Mail, 13 August 2016
Australian Farm Institute executive director Mick Keogh says the heavily subsidised European farmer is achieving fantastic yields not merely because of a more hospitable climate but also advanced telecommunication technology, coupled with a taxpayer who will provide farms with up to 50 per cent of their income via EU subsidies.
Keogh says Lowenstein's view that Australians should abandon farming in more arid regions is echoed in agricultural circles throughout Europe, and based largely on a misunderstanding of how Australian farmers operate.
'That observation is derived largely from a headline impression that Australia is always drought stricken and our soils are impoverished,' Keogh says.
Australian farmers' inputs are extraordinarily low compared to European inputs - a German farmer might use as much as nine times as much nitrogen for a crop of wheat compared to an Australian farmer.
ANDREW MARSHALL, Farm Weekly, 4 August 2016
The agricultural commodity export rush has also rapidly depleted our sheep and cattle numbers in recent years which means Australia will most likely be letting future market growth opportunities slip by, in the short term at least, as restocking becomes a priority, says the Australian Farm Institute (AFI).
The AFI's latest agricultural trade performance review highlights how our farm sector continues to lose market share in global markets, particularly among booming Asian food industry importers.
CLINT JASPER, Rural News - ABC Rural (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), 21 July 2016The Australian Farm Institute's trade review concludes that with little opportunity to expand production, Australian agriculture needs a renewed focus on productivity gains.
"In effect, Australia is losing market share in those neighbouring markets that we identify as our own," director Mick Keogh said.
"That really is a wake up call about the need to be competitive and to be not assuming these markets are ours and there for the taking."
The AFI's analysis found the growth of Australia's exports to every global region except Oceania and North Asia was slower than the equivalent global growth figure.
ALEX DRUCE, The Land, 16 June 2016
There are opportunities aplenty for Australian agriculture – providing we drive people-based solutions to overcome communication barriers, according to Precision Ag manager Tim Neale.
With new satellite technology, remote monitoring and diagnostics, and better data clouds, the tools are there to harness farming's potential.
But Mr Neal told the digital disruption in agriculture conference that it would require people to 'bottle intelligence' and boost system capabilities.
ALEX DRUCE, The Land, 16 June 2016
In the age of technology and innovation the death of agronomists has been greatly exaggerated.
That's according to AgLink's Phil Hoult, who says farmers' trusted advisors will evolve to reflect technology uptake and an increased focus on localised information – or small data – to improve farm output.
Mr Hoult was one of a host speakers to tackle the meeting of farming and tech at the Australian Farm Institute's (AFI's) two-day digital disruption in agriculture conference in Sydney last week.
ALEX DRUCE, The Land, 16 June 2016
Growers could benefit from open data systems – providing the trust, transparency and model is spot on - according to Ros Harvey of Yield Technology Solutions.
Ms Harvey told the digital disruption forum that shared local data had the ability to produce better on-farm results.
'But the challenge will be whether we'll have data markets or data monopolies,' she said. 'Whether we create a healthy environment (for data), or if farms will be an outpost for some company.'
ALEX DRUCE, The Land, 16 June 2016
Many ideas shined brightly during the Australian Farm Institute's digital disruption in agriculture forum – but none captured the imagination like Professor Salah Sukkarieh.
The Sydney crowd was given a glimpse of the future by the director of research and innovation at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, via a highlights reel of the on-farm technology it has produced.
Many in the audience shook their heads at the ACFR's work and ability of its robots now – be it planting, crop intelligence, pruning, or harvesting - let alone what levels could be reached in five or ten years time.Professor Sukkarieh said those nervous about the rise of the machines shouldn't be.
5 key takeaways for Australia's developing agtech scene from the Digital Disruption in Agriculture event
SARAH NOLET, AgFunderNews, 8 June 2016
Last week, the Australian Farm Institute, an agricultural policy research organization, hosted the Digital Disruption in Agriculture conference. The conference explored whether digital technologies will enable the third agricultural revolution and bring about the next big productivity gain, and how to catalyze this revolution in Australia. In eight sessions across two days, leading academics, established corporations, agtech entrepreneurs, and innovative farmers discussed the challenges and opportunities for digital technologies in Australian agriculture.
Here are my top 5 takeaways:
1. Harnessing the power of data creates limitless opportunities
2. But beware of marketing hype!
3. Data ownership and privacy concerns abound
4. The revolution will take more than technological innovation
5. The education system has to evolve.
MATT McFARLAND, The Washington Post, 2 June 2016
An Australian professor is developing a robot to monitor the health of grazing livestock, a development that could bring big changes to a profession that's relied largely on a low-tech approach for decades but is facing a labor shortage.
Salah Sukkarieh, a robotics professor at the University of Sydney, sees robots as necessary given how cattlemen are aging. The average age of a farmer in Australia is 52, according to the Australian Farm Institute.
Sukkarieh is building a four-wheeled robot that will run on solar and electric power. It will roam pastures alongside livestock and monitor the animals using cameras, thermal sensors and infrared. A computer system will analyze video footage to determine whether a cow is limping. Radio tags on the animals will measure temperature changes. The quality of pasture will be tracked by monitoring the shape, color and texture of grass. That way, cattlemen will know whether they need to move their herd to another field for nutrition purposes. He plans to run trials later this year and is aiming for the final product to cost about as much as an ATV.
The Weekly Times, 27 May 2016
The collection and use of data is the next wave for grain growers innovation, a new report has found.
The Australian Farm Institute's research report on the implications of digital agriculture and "big data", released on Monday, recommends rules around the privacy of data collection and for better mobile and internet infrastructure.
SHAN GOODWIN, The Guardian, 30 May 2016
For leading agriculture commentator Mick Keogh, executive director of the Australian Farm Institute, it was evident from day one the suspension threw in the faces of the beef industry a major risk confronting Australian agriculture that it was nowhere near prepared to deal with.
In an opinion piece published the day after the ban was announced, he wrote: "Leaving aside the horror Australian beef producers clearly felt in response to the footage, the issue has highlighted the inability of a diverse and fragmented industry to respond in a cohesive and positive manner to such a concerted challenge from the general public, who are, after all, consumers."
Today, in an era where consumer control over, and scrutiny of, agricultural practices is embedded thanks to the power of instant communication, Mr Keogh believes the big lesson of the 2011 suspension has been that the concept of social licence is real.
What the event showed the beef industry was that social licence had to be considered as a priority issue in a proactive manner, not as something that was responded to when a crisis arises.
"The Australian livestock export sector has a fantastically good story to tell, both from the perspective of the economic benefits its brings - in particular to northern Australia - and, equally important, from the view of the major advances that are occurring in export destination countries as a result of Australian initiatives," he said.
COLIN BETTLES, Queensland Country Life, 14 May 2016
Australian Farm Institute executive director and now Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Agricultural Commissioner Mick Keogh has pointed to reviews and inquiries held since 2008 that had led to fine tuning and improvements for drought support delivery.
That includes a CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology review of the science and potential future impacts of climate change on drought severity; an expert panel inquiry of the social impacts of drought on farm families and rural communities; and the Productivity Commission's economic analysis of drought support effectiveness and efficiency.
KYLIE LANG, The Courier-Mail, 13 May 2016
Since 2000, fruit and vegetable prices have been increasing, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and while they've generally kept pace with inflation, this is about to change.
The Australian Farm Institute says fruit and vegetable prices, typically more volatile than other food prices due to the impact of weather on supplies and relatively few imports, are set to soar. Increasing overseas demand is driving up export prices, it says, forcing domestic prices to jump even further.
Theoretically, this should be a win for farmers, allowing them to reduce debt and invest in capital upgrades, but I can't see supermarkets rushing to pass on any gains.
FarmOnline, RICHARD HEATH, 8 May 2016
The big issues – such as the measures needed to reduce the long-term budget deficit now running at an estimated $37 billion per year – have been left for a future date, as have decisions on issues such as university funding, the tax system and the major infrastructure investment that will be required to lift national productivity.
For the farm sector, issues such as measures to address mobile phone blackspot funding and the backpacker tax are two issues that both fall into this category.
EMILY PARKINSON, Australian Financial Review, 17 February 2016
'The ability to capture digital information at the farm gate is growing rapidly; harvesters, tractors, farm implements, sprays, walk-over weighing scales – all those sorts of things allow to capture a huge amount of data associated with farm production,' says Australian Farm Institute's executive director, Mick Keogh. 'The key is turning that flood of information into sensible, decision-supporting tools.'
The advent of digitised agriculture means farmers have the ability to gain control over their farms in ways they never had before. Farmers accustomed to speaking in terms of 'paddock', or 'herd', averages, now have the ability to monitor and control inputs with far greater precision, says Keogh. 'It is now possible to speak about farm management decisions down to the level of the individual plant or animal.'
StockJournal, ELIZABETH ANDERSON,
28 January 2016
StockJournal, ELIZABETH ANDERSON,
Australian Farm Institute director Mick Keogh said there had been a significant growth in the demand for agricultural graduates in recent years. 'Not so much on-farm; the number of people employed at farm level has been relatively stable,' he said. 'It seems the growth is very much in the service industry.'
Mr Keogh said farmers were increasingly outsourcing roles like advice, and well as looking at contractors for livestock and harvest jobs, which has created a number of job opportunities in the sector.
He said one of the major areas where there had been growth was in the financial sector, with business advisory companies looking for an increased number of agriculture graduates. 'We're certainly seeing an increase in university enrolments,' he said.
FarmOnline, COLIN BETTLES,
16 January 2016
FarmOnline, COLIN BETTLES,
'I think if the evidence demonstrates better environmental outcomes, it's hard to argue with it,' he said.
'I don't have a blanket objection to GMs but also I'm not saying - and would never say - we should press ahead with all GMO applications because I think that's really dangerous.'
Senator Di Natale stated he was also concerned about; GM food labelling; intellectual property ownership and corporate control of GM seeds; farmers having a choice; and the development of GMs that incentivises increased on-farm chemical use.
However, the leader's personal views on GM science - which he'd also previously revealed at the Australian Farm Institute's conference in early November 2015 - forced the Greens to issue a clarifying statement saying their GM policy hadn't changed.
FarmOnline, MATTHEW CAWOOD, 16 November 2015
Don McGauchie worries that Australian agriculture hasn't got the grit to take advantage of the opportunities the 21st Century is offering it.
The ag leader told the recent Australian Farm Institute (AFI) Roundtable that the nation's agriculture had necessarily developed a lot of resilience, but he was concerned about its ability to perservere.
Perseverance and resilience are two aspects of 'grit', the quality that American education researcher Angela Lee Duckworth has identified as being more relevant to student success than IQ .
CATHERINE McALOON, ABC Rural, 14 November 2015
The review by the Australian Farm Institute found Australian produce made up 22 per cent of all agricultural imports into ASEAN countries in 1996, but has now dropped to less than 10 per cent. The institute's executive director Mick Keogh says competitor countries, like Indonesia, China, Thailand and Brazil, have been gobbling up market share of increased demand for farm products.
"It's sending us a message about the reality of competition in global agricultural markets and that we haven't got the so-called dining boom all to ourselves," Mr Keogh said.
Boundless Plains to Share, KEIRON COSTELLO, 1 October 2015
Meanwhile, CEO of the Australian Farm Institute (and our Advisory Board member) Mick Keogh has warned that without additional work in communications infrastructure, the new satellites will not 'solve' the telecommunications problems of those in rural Australia and "may consign Australian agriculture to a permanent technological backwater".
Until the satellites take effect next year, all we can do is wait and see. Are you expecting significant improvements to internet speeds or remain cautious?
FarmOnline, COLIN BETTLES, 21 August 2015
Mr Keogh has been at the helm of the AFI for more than a decade conducting important and timely research into public policy issues impacting the Australian farm sector.
He has gained a nationwide reputation for his work analysing the agricultural and rural sectors which includes promoting policy solutions that support the economic and social wellbeing of farmers.
The AFI boss hails from a family farm near Holbrook in southern NSW and spent 10 years with NSW Farmers Association as both deputy CEO and policy director before being named the founding executive director of the AFI in 2004.
He was also Chair of the National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) which merged with the Agricultural Industry Advisory Council in late 2014 as part of the Abbott government's move to reduce bureaucratic agencies.
Stock Journal, CATHERINE MILLER, 7 August 2015
The agricultural sector must convince state and federal governments of the importance of investment in public sector research and development, and funding for tertiary training, to ensure productivity gains.
That was the message from the Australian Farm Institute's executive director Mick Keogh who said industries such as sheep and wool could not afford to sit still.
"The policies, particularly at a state government level, are being driven by budgets rather than by anticipated outcomes," he said.
"Governments right around Australia say ag is the next boom industry, or one of five pillars of the economy, but cut R&D budgets in ag - and the two just don't meet.
SBS News, JASON THOMAS, 28 July 2015
Australian Farm Institute chief executive, Mick Keogh, has said agriculture would be a difficult part of the agreement to navigate for the negotiating parties.
'Agriculture remains the most trade-restricted economic sector globally, and it was surely only a matter of time before the sector rose to prominence as a major sticking point for these negotiations.'
He said three negotiating countries € the US, Canada and Japan € had track records of protecting their agriculture industries from international competition.
Australia is pushing for greater access to the Canadian and US agricultural markets, but those countries have protections for their markets from international competition.
The Land, COLIN BETTLES, 11 July 2015
Improving farmers' access to genetically modified (GM) crops and robotic monitoring technologies will enhance the nation's agricultural productivity levels, the Australian Farm Institute (AFI) has told a federal inquiry...
The AFI's submission said new technologies like animal and plant breeding genetics were "critical" for increasing the sector's overall productivity and the intensification of agricultural enterprises.
The AFI also referred to digital and robotic technologies that can monitor and manage agricultural production systems, as ways of making productivity improvements.
But the AFI warned productivity growth in broadacre agriculture had experienced a market slowdown in annual growth rates since 1997 which economists and scientists had attributed to several factors, including investment levels for agricultural R&D.
MICK KEOGH, Farm Weekly, 7 July 2015, reprinted from AFI's Ag Forum
After an extended gestation, the Australian government release its Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper on Saturday, giving effect to the government's stated vision of building a more profitable, more resilient and more sustainable agriculture sector to help drive a stronger Australian economy.
Many of the initiatives outlined appear beneficial, although some appear to address symptoms rather than solve long-term problems.
ANNA VIDOT, ABC Rural, 22 April 2015
It is more than 30 years since a Senate inquiry called for a nationally consistent approach to farm animal welfare standards, science and policy.
But the landscape remains fragmented, with each state and territory ultimately responsible for signing off on standards and pursuing cases of cruelty.
An Australian Farm Institute review of farm animal welfare science and policy is now renewing the push for a national approach, recommending Commonwealth legislation to create a new body that would engage with industry, NGOs and government to set and review welfare standards and policy.
MICK KEOGH, Beef Central, 20 April 2015
The announcement over recent days that there has been some in-principle agreement reached about the wider use of the 'True Aussie' brand in marketing Australian farm products in export (and hopefully domestic) markets is a welcome development, but there should be no misapprehension about the scale of work and effort required in order to ensure that the brand actually delivers value to Australian farmers.
The Rural, 15 May 2015
Mr Stringer said he was delighted to have Mick Keogh, executive director of Australian Farm Institute, as the forum's opening speaker.
'Mick has been involved in research into a wide range of issues impacting on the agricultural sector in Australia and internationally, and with family farming locally, he has a good understanding of the challenges we face in this region,' he said.
TONY CAMPBELL, itnews.com.au, 7 April 2015
This proved to be a double-edged sword, because they certainly showed solidarity with our allies in the West, however they also caused economic stress inside Australia. The Australian Farm Institute criticised these sanctions as adversely affecting Australia's ability to export beef, butter and nuts, which is a market worth $44 million annually.
MATTHEW CAWOOD, The Land, 19 February 2015
Do the producer groups seeking to control levy funds really understand what they are getting themselves into?
Mick Keogh is concerned that they don't. The executive director of the Australian Farm Institute (AFI), who conducted a global study of farm representation models in 2013, is worried that the effect of these movements could be politicisation of the research and development funding process, and all the "moral hazard" that goes with it...
'It's the failing of the representative groups that's causing a lot of the current angst among producers, and they are transferring that concern to the RDCs,' Mr Keogh said.
'I think they are mixing up the responsibilities of the two.'
Some producer groups are agitating for greater control, a voice - but Mr Keogh said it's hard to know how that's meant to work.
'There are real issues around who marks the homework and who makes recommendations about the use of levies, and how those uses are reviewed; but I don't think you need to go to an agripolitical representative structure, because I don't see how that structure would turn out sound long term decision making about R&D investment.'
ROB HARRIS, The Weekly Times, 26 January 2015
Rural leaders have been honoured across the country as part of Australia Day honours today.
Australian Farm Institute executive director Mick Keogh has been named an Officer in the Order of Australia for service to agriculture and regional development.
Mr Keogh is also the National Rural Advisory Council chair and served as New South Wales Farmers Association general manager of policy for over a decade from 1992-2003.
He said he was surprised to be recognised in the Australia Day awards but considered it a 'great honour'.
Mr Keogh said he had always enjoyed his work in a field he loves.'(I do) work which is fascinating, interesting and challenging and all those things that make it enjoyable,' he said.
'I've been lucky to have that opportunity, I don't need recognition for it, it's been a lot of fun and still is.'
LUCY BARBOUR, ABC Rural, 12 December 2014
The head of the agricultural think tank, the Australian Farm Institute, Mick Keogh, thinks the delay of the register points to a broader problem for Australian agriculture.
'One of the biggest challenges we're facing in agriculture is a progressive downgrading of the statistical and information base that we have available to understand what's happening,' he explained.
'And it really is starting to come to the fore now. We're seeing it in relation to this issue of bank finance, where the first problem was that no one really knew what the situation was.
'We're seeing it in the area of land titling information and foreign ownership information. I guess this points to a bigger problem that if we downgrade and reduce the statistical information available about these issues, they simply create angst in the community and ultimately lead to bad policy decisions.'
Mick Keogh, reprinted in Beef Central from the Institute's Ag Forum, 10 November 2014
The proposal for grassfed beef industry restructure canvassed over recent days raises more questions than answers and does not seem like a viable long-term model, writes the Australian Farm Institute€s Mick Keogh in a new opinion piece.
Farm Weekly, 2 November 2014
The Australian Farm Institute will launch its first review of Australia's agricultural trade performance at the rural think-tank's upcoming roundtable conference in Melbourne.The review will contain detailed analysis of how Australian agriculture is faring compared with its major export competitors. As well, the institute will unveil its new farm trade website portal which will give users access to a large database of Australian farm trade information broken down into commodity and export destinations.
Leading Agriculture - Issue One, 29 September 2014
'Farmers, researchers and advisors can now use the FarmGAS Calculator to compare the emissions reductions and financial performance of various carbon farming projects by generating marginal abatement cost curves,' AFI senior research officer Adam Tomlinson said.
'The information generated provides a quick comparison of the cost effectiveness of different methods of greenhouse gas mitigation and carbon sequestration.'
Anyone can register for access to the FarmGAS Calculator Scenario Tool and Financial Tool on this website calculator.farminstitute.org.au/login
LUCY BARBOUR and CRAIG ZONCA, ABC Rural (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), 24 September 2014
Chairman of the National Rural Advisory Council, Mick Keogh, agrees.
'We know the aggregate number for Australia, and the Reserve Bank of Australia tracks that.
'But when it gets down to more regionally or local numbers, ABARES did a report on the beef industry about a month ago and that highlighted that the numbers were picking up in the northern beef sector,' he said.
'I think probably the drought has exacerbated this, but I guess really it'll come down to information from the banks and other financial providers about what exactly the nature of the problem is.'
EMMA HANNIGAN, SBS News, 1 August 2014
Farmers will have to produce more but according to Mick Keogh of the Australian Farm Institute, the world is rapidly reaching the boundaries of its arable land.
'Every year farmers have to produce 1.2 per cent more from the same amount of inputs: the same amount of land, the same amount of water etc, And that is a pretty big call.' Says Mr Keogh.
ROB HARRIS, The Weekly Times, 29 July 2014
Research from the Australian Farm Institute this year identified deregulation of agriculture during the 1980s and 90s was a factor in the decline of membership of farmer groups.
It found the deregulation of markets meant groups no longer had direct influence on the prices farmers received.
KATIE MCROBERT, Farm Online, 4 July 2014
Australian Farm Institute executive director Mick Keogh said a register was needed to throw 'more light and less heat' on the issue.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the debate was the 'almost complete lack of available data' about the extent of or trends in foreign ownership of Australian farmland, he said, combined with 'very serious misinterpretation of what the available data means'.
KERRI-ANNE MESNER, Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, 4 June 2014
Young farmers have taken on Australian fitness queen in a battle of moral stances.
Michelle Bridges reignited the debate on 'ag-gag' laws with a column in a Sydney paper recently, calling for Australian consumers to resist the introduction of US-style ag-gag legislation which would restrict filming of all animal production by activists.
Her column sparked strong emotions among Australia's farming community with the Australian Farm Institute writing an open letter to Ms Bridges.
GERALDINE DOOGUE, Saturday Extra - ABC Radio National, 30 May 2015
World demand for food is booming but Australia's participation in that growth is not inevitable. The Australian Farm Institute warns we need to bust some myths about the nation's relative competitiveness, invest capital, build skills and marketing capacity and play smarter if we are going to keep up.Guest - Mick Keogh: Executive Director, Australian Farm Institute
ANDREW MARSHALL, FarmOnline, 24 April 2014
The merits of foreign ownership of farming assets are complex - made more complex by a lack of information and up-to-date government policy and ill-informed commentary says Australian Farm Institute's (AFI) Mick Keogh.
He told last week's Sydney Royal Show "hot topic" debate on the issue the farm sector would be starved of valuable investment and cash flow and our farmers would pay higher interest rates if foreign buyers were not allowed to acquire farmland, and in turn, inject foreign capital into the industry.