Summer 2015, Vol. 12, No. 4

Australian agriculture, pursuing premium markets or productivity

This edition of the Farm Policy Journal contains the two winning entries from the 2015 John Ralph Essay Competition, plus a selection of other meritorious entries. The Institute received a total of 60 entries in the competition this year, spread evenly between the Open and Novice categories. This year's topic was: ‘Australian agriculture should forget about the pursuit of productivity, and instead focus on premium markets.’
Download editorial - Purchase now - Member access

Premiums or Progress: Should Australian Agriculture Abandon its Productivity Focus and Instead Focus on the Bright Lights of Premium Markets?

Tim Byrne

Faced with declining terms of trade over an extended period, Australian farmers have had to sustain farm profitability by increasing productivity. The alternative response to declining terms of trade is to attempt to secure higher unit prices by targeting premium markets. However, the only way to sustain premium prices over the longer term is to produce goods that are valued by markets, are rare, are difficult to imitate, and which a business has the resources to consistently produce. Buy now

Premium Profits or Productivity Pitfalls? The Next Step for Australian Agriculture

Alexandra Grigg

The pursuit of productivity has resulted in some of the worst excesses of the United States agriculture sector, where livestock are produced in very large intensive feeding facilities, which have negative impacts on the welfare of the animals, the natural environment and the health of those consuming the food. Contrast this with Australian pasture-fed cattle, sheep and dairy production systems, which are much more environmentally friendly, resulting in better animal welfare outcomes, and products that are more appealing to wealthy consumers. Buy now

Australian Agriculture Should Forget About the Pursuit of Productivity, and Instead Focus on Premium Markets

Lucy Knight

To stop pursuing productivity and simply chase premium markets would have a detrimental effect on the viability of Australian farmers. Productivity is the main driver of profitability in Australian agriculture, be it at the individual farm level, or as a national market sector of the economy. To stay viable inside the farm gate when the prices farmers receive are falling and to compete against international, lower-cost producers, farmers must invest in innovation and drive greater returns through higher production. Buy now

Premium Agricultural Products: All Tip and No Iceberg

Patricia Vagg

Premium markets have a place, and indeed a strong place, in all manner of agriculture in Australia. Just as a small amount of cream floats on top of milk, and only the tip of the iceberg is visible but the majority of it is under the water, premium markets are supported by huge volumes of productive and profitable agriculture. Premium markets are at risk of being short lived and, because they are driven by consumer trends, somewhat unreliable. Buy now

Taking Care of Business: Productivity Gains and Premium Markets

David Thompson

Australia cannot afford to neglect investment in productivity, but it must also capitalise on emerging opportunities in premium markets. Productivity efforts enhance our industry’s resilience and readiness to take advantage of opportunities, while premium marketing efforts drive greater volume from our efforts to produce the quality and calibre of produce that premium markets not only demand, but for which they will pay a premium. Buy now

Images: CSIRO; Adrian Brown, Tourism Australia; Greg Snell, Tourism Australia