John Ralph Essay Competition 2015

Winners announced 

The winners of the Australian Farm Institute's John Ralph Essay Competition 2015 were announced at the Australian Agriculture Roundtable Conference at the Hilton Sydney on 4th November, 2015.

The winner of the Open Category is Tim Byrne and the winner of the Novice Category is Alexandra Grigg. The Institute would like to congratulate the competition winners and thank all those who participated.

The Australian Agriculture Roundtable Conference has been held by the Australian Farm Institute every year for over 10 years. It brings together the most senior leaders of Australian agriculture and agribusiness to discuss issues of strategic importance to the future of the sector.

Australian agriculture should forget about the pursuit of productivity, and instead focus on premium markets

Entries have now closed. 

Two cash prizes: $5,000 for the Open category and $1,000 for the Novice category
  • Incentives for professors and lecturers who involve their students
  • Prizes awarded at the 2015 Australian Agriculture Roundtable Conference
The John Ralph Essay Competition
2015 topic
Rules of entry
Prizes

An opportunity for lecturers to involve students

Judging criteria

The John Ralph Essay Competition

The Australian Farm Institute established the annual John Ralph Essay Competition in 2010 to honour John Ralph, who was the inaugural Chairman of the Australian Farm Institute. John made a major contribution to the Australian Farm Institute during his six years of chairmanship, and always insisted that comprehensive and objective research should be the basis for policy decisions, particularly for a sector such as agriculture, which has a wide diversity of different commodity groups and business arrangements. (More information about the history of the competition is available here.)

2015 topic

The topic for the 2015 John Ralph Essay Competition is:
Australian agriculture should forget about the pursuit of productivity, and instead focus on premium markets

Entrants in the 2015 John Ralph Essay Competition are asked to argue the case for or against the proposal that is the topic of the 2015 competition.
In addressing the topic, competition entrants will be expected to:

 • Clearly explain whether you support or don’t support the statement that: ‘Australian agriculture should forget about the pursuit of productivity, and instead focus on premium markets.'

• If you support the statement, explain why, and for what products and what markets you believe a change from productivity driven growth to premium market driven growth is relevant. Explain how this change would impact the different parts of agribusiness supply chains and how it would ultimately benefit farm businesses.

 • If you oppose this idea, explain why productivity growth remains critical to the future growth of the agriculture sector, and your views on the future significance of premium markets for Australian farmers and agribusiness.

 • In arguing either for or against the proposal, outline the type of public policies that should be adopted to help achieve future growth for the agriculture sector.

Rules of entry

There are two categories for this competition, one for professionals and one for novices.

The Open category is open to anyone over 25 years of age on Friday 18th of September 2015 (closing date), including students, farmers, agribusiness participants, policy-makers, consultants, researchers, etc..

The Novice category is open to persons  25 years of age or under, on Friday 18th of September 2015 (closing date).

Professors, lecturers and course coordinators are encouraged to support their students in entering this competition by including the essay topic in their undergraduate course program.

A judging panel consisting of the Chairman of the Institute Board, the Institute CEO and the Chair of the Institute's Research Advisory Committee will have the task of judging the competition and selecting the two winning entries. These will be published (along with a number of other papers on the same topic) in the Summer 2015 edition of the Farm Policy Journal, to be released in December, 2015.

Entries must be between 1,500 to 4,500 words in length, and material beyond the 4,500 limit (excluding reference list) will not be considered by judges.

The essay is expected to present the author's point of view based on sound and well-argued reasoning. A scientific style (method, quotes, references and reference list) is not compulsory, but important references should be cited. The essay should be written in a style suitable for an audience that has some familiarity with the topic, but does not have a great depth of technical knowledge about the issue.

Entries should be submitted in electronic format (.doc or .docx for Windows), by 5 pm, Friday 18 September 2015.

Professors and lecturers interested in having their students participate have to register as soon as possible.

Prizes

The winner of the Open category of the John Ralph Essay contest will receive a cash prize of $5000 and the winner of the novice category will receive a cash prize of $1000.

Both winners will also receive a one year's membership of the Australian Farm Institute (valued at $319) and complementary attendance at the Australian Agriculture Roundtable Conference.

An opportunity for lecturers to involve students

Professors and lecturers are encouraged to participate by encouraging their students to enter this competition. The Australian Farm Institute has established this essay competition to create discussion and debate on current agriculture sector topics, and to encourage students and the wider community to engage in issues of strategic importance to the future of the sector.

Any professors or lecturers interested in having their students participate are invited to include the competition topic in their students' assessment tasks, and to enter some or all of the resulting essays in the competition.

Professors and lecturers who have at least three students who enter the competition will be offered:

  • One year’s free subscription to the Farm Policy Journal
  • One hardcopy of an Institute research report of their choice.

Judging criteria

Entries will be judged using the following criteria;

  • Completeness: entries must address all the issues raised in the competition topic;
  • Originality: entries should go beyond just repeating 'common' beliefs, and carefully and objectively examine the question posed by the topic;
  • Comprehensiveness: entries should canvass the full extent of the issue, and carefully consider the positives and negatives arising from any proposed 'solution';
  • Practicality: any proposals will need to find the right balance between being bold and practical – there should be a reasonable chance proposals could be adopted.
  • Clarity: entries should be written in clear, jargon-free language so that it is easily read and understood.
Entries have now closed for 2015.