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Could CSIRO redeployments kickstart Australian innovation?

Brendon OSullivan - Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The recently announced staff redeployments at the CSIRO have generated a flood of media headlines about government cuts to science funding, and the apparent reversal by the Australian Government of recent policy aiming to encourage innovation and productivity growth in the Australian economy. Despite the hysterical headlines, the changes that have been announced by the CSIRO might just be a first essential step in reigniting innovation in Australia. View the rest of the post here

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Market realities hit - even in China.

- 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

- 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

- 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.

- 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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Driest hottest year ever, or driest and hottest for selected records?

- Sunday, January 17, 2016

Almost without fail when discussions turn to the weather, media commentators or scientists will report that the particular weather phenomena they are talking about is the most extreme that has ever been observed or recorded, but the frequency of these reports (and even a basic understanding of statistics) leads to some serious questioning about the validity of these claims. View the rest of the post here

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W(h)ither the Godzilla El Nino?

- 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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2015: The year the 'worm turned' for Australian agriculture

- Monday, December 21, 2015

When Shakespeare first used the expression “the worm has turned” in his play Henry VI he was referring to a situation where a person or group of people who have been treated badly for a long time suddenly experience a change in fortune and become forceful and assert themselves. This seems to be a very apt phrase to describe the events of the past year for Australian agriculture, especially in relation to commodity prices, supermarket power, and native vegetation policy. View the rest of the post here

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Are annual live cattle quotas for Indonesia enough?

- Thursday, December 10, 2015

Food Security and political stability have always walked hand in hand. Every political regime lives by this fact. From Marie Antoinette to Mao, the ironclad rule for a successful political regime has always been to ensure that the masses have adequate food. Rarely is an ideological sentiment so unifying, nor a violation of ethics so egregious that its revolutionary clout exceeds that of a steep rise in grain prices.  View the rest of the post here

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Are productivity and premiumisation mutually exclusive?

- Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The 2015 John Ralph Essay Competition asked participants whether Australian agriculture should focus more on premium markets, and lower the priority of the pursuit of productivity – something which has been a singular focus for decades. Inherent in this question is the notion that the two are mutually exclusive, but is that necessarily the case? View the rest of the post here

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