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Free range definition sets a dangerous precedent for agriculture

- Thursday, October 08, 2015

The move by the Australian Government Treasury and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to define what constitutes 'free-range' egg production sets a dangerous precedent for Australian agriculture, but also provides the sector with a wake-up call in relation to the need for industry leadership and unity. View the rest of the post here

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University rankings are good for universities, but not for agriculture

- Wednesday, September 30, 2015
There has been a lot of media over recent days about the standings of Australian universities in international university ranking systems, with major universities quick to boast about their improved positions. The quest by Australian universities for improved international rankings is all about attracting more high fee-paying international students, and actually disadvantages the wider community, and sectors like Australian agriculture.  View the rest of the post here
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Will satellite internet consign Australian agriculture to a permanent technological backwater?

- Monday, September 28, 2015

The excitement evident in political and bureaucratic circles about the imminent launch of new telecommunications satellites that it is claimed will dramatically improve internet access for Australians living in regional areas is probably not matched on the ground by those destined to be recipients of the new service, based on previous experience. View the rest of the post here

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Making cents of global beef prices

- Friday, September 18, 2015

Given the dependency of the Australian beef industry on export markets, beef producers have long been aware that international beef prices and the $A exchange rate have a big impact on the prices that are paid for cattle in Australia. It is fair to say that it is not always obvious what affects the price differences observed between Australia and the USA, however the new statistics database made available by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) at least provides some improved transparency on this question. View the rest of the post here

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Agriculture has the technology, but will consumers swallow it?

- Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The growth opportunities for Australian agriculture lie in expanding resource use via the development of northern Australia, and increasing output from existing resource use through productivity growth. While these two options are perhaps equally important, agricultural productivity growth is essential in order to maintain international competitiveness irrespective of what happens in northern Australia, but also faces a major stumbling block due to the purported attitudes of consumers. View the rest of the post here

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Is transparent market information the best medicine for sick markets?

- Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Throughout history, much of the government intervention in agriculture has aimed to redress the imbalance between the bargaining power of many small-scale farmers who are often weak sellers due to the seasonality and perishability of their products, and the bargaining power of major corporate entities involved in processing and trading those products. Often, governments intervened by setting minimum prices, creating single desk marketing arrangements, or imposing production quotas or other restrictions on participation in certain markets. More recently, governments have recognised the importance of transparent market information as a key factor in ensuring markets remain efficient and fair, and have legislated accordingly. This approach is now up for review in the USA, with legislators and policymakers trying to understand whether more transparent market information really does fix 'sick' markets. View the rest of the post here

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Getting the story right on the Marsh-Baxter GM case

- Thursday, September 03, 2015

The WA Court of Appeals yesterday handed down its decision in the Marsh v Baxter case, in which an organic farmer sued his GM crop growing neighbour for allegedly contaminating the organic farm, which resulted in a loss of organic certification and therefore a substantial amount of income. By a two to one majority, the Appeals Court Judges supported the decision of the original judge, and dismissed all the claims made by the organic farmer.  View the rest of the post here

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Why has Australian agriculture productivity growth stalled?

Brendon OSullivan - Tuesday, September 01, 2015

A recent study that the Australian Farm Institute carried out for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation identified that Australian agricultural productivity growth has stalled since 1997, and even taking into account the drought years from 2003 to 2010, shows no real signs of recovering to earlier levels. Unless reasons can be found for this, and productivity growth resuscitated, Australian agricultural competitiveness will decline and the sector will stagnate. Finding reasons for the productivity growth stall and ways to stimulate productivity growth in the future is a major challenge. View the rest of the post here

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Making sense of sentience and animal welfare

- Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Opponents of livestock farming, and especially intensive livestock farming, advance a number of different arguments to support the notion that most forms of livestock farming should be opposed by anyone who is guided by ethics or morals. One frequently used argument is that farm animals are sentient beings with the ability to feel pain and to experience emotions, and that any form of livestock production system that either causes pain or imposes a change from 'natural'  animal behavior (having a negative emotional impact of the animal) therefore cannot be justified. View the rest of the post here

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Digital agriculture promises productivity growth, but depends on 'infrastructure'

- Monday, August 10, 2015

There has been quite spectacular growth in the use of digital information to guide management decisions in farm businesses in the USA, with more than one hundred companies now offering hardware and software applications that provide farmers with digital information about the state of their crops and livestock. Interestingly, while these companies are fiercely commercial, they unashamedly rely on 'infrastructure' funded by taxpayers. View the rest of the post here

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