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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

- 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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Connectivity, Capability and Commercial reality

- Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Australian Farm Institute “Harvesting the benefits of digital agriculture” conference held two weeks ago in Melbourne attracted a big crowd of Australian and international participants, which included government ministers, government agencies, agricultural researchers, farmers, technology specialists and potential ag-tech investors. The simple takeout message is that the future of digital agriculture in Australia will depend on the three “Cs” – namely Connectivity, Capability, and Commercial realityView the rest of the post here

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Could farmer data "ownership" kill innovation?

Richard Heath - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

It is hard to discuss digital agriculture without coming across questions about who is benefiting most from the data collected. These questions are leading to a strong focus on farmers “owning” their data. Leaving aside the issues around whether you can actually own data, some of the language that is being used in this debate is running the risk of promoting a scenario that stifles innovation in digital agriculture.
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Farmers have always been Lean and Agile.

Richard Heath - Monday, June 05, 2017

Once again, farmers are the true innovators in the business world. If you have had even a passing look at the new world of technology companies and start-ups you would have seen lots of language about lean business models and agile technologies. This does not mean that you should be skinny and flexible to work in technology but rather refers to a different way of doing business that is starting to grow in popularity and move into the wider economy. View the rest of the post here

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

- 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

- 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

- 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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Australia's beef industry needs to get productive, and fast

- Monday, April 10, 2017

Two recent events have highlighted the competitive challenge faced by the Australian beef industry. Anyone lulled into thinking that the current high cattle and beef prices will persist over the longer term might need to reconsider that opinion, and quickly! View the rest of the post here

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