2015 Winter - Labour matters in Australian agriculture

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Farm Policy Journal: Vol 12 No 2 2015 Winter - Full Journal - Labour matters in Australian agriculture

Australian Farm Institute (2015), Labour matters in Australian agriculture, Farm Policy Journal: Vol. 12 No. 2, Winter, Surry Hills, Australia.
ISSN 1449–2210 (Print)
ISSN 1449–8812 (Web) 

$60.50


FPJ1202B, Potard, G & Keogh, M (2015), Labour Utilisation Trends in Australian Agriculture

FPJ1202B, Potard, G & Keogh, M (2015), Labour Utilisation Trends in Australian Agriculture, in Farm Policy Journal: Vol. 12 No. 2, Winter, pp. 1-15.

This paper reviews existing literature on agricultural labour productivity and efficiency, and analyses labour utilisation in Australian broadacre agriculture based on ABARES data from 1990 to 2014.

Mechanisation has greatly impacted agriculture removing numerous jobs from the sector, potentially reducing the significance of changes in the farm labour force as a means of lifting total farm productivity. However, the picture is more complex than it first appears. Australian farms have increased their labour efficiency and more than half of the labour force is now salaried or contracted. There is, however, important variability between agricultural sectors with the more noticeable changes in grain and the dairy industries. Grains farms have a lesser reliance on labour and a higher share of salaried/contracted labour. Dairy farms have seen the most noticeable decrease in the ratio of labour cost on total cost and a higher reliance on salaried/contracted labour over the last 25 years.

A key finding is that there are insufficient detailed data available to address the question of labour productivity in the Australian agriculture sector thoroughly. 

 

$12.10


FPJ1202C, Nettle, R (2015), More Than Workforce Shortages: How Farm Human Resources Management Strategies Will Shape Australia’s Agricultural Future

FPJ1202C, Nettle, R (2015), More Than Workforce Shortages: How Farm Human Resources Management Strategies Will Shape Australia’s Agricultural Future, in Farm Policy Journal: Vol. 12 No. 2, Winter, pp. 17-27.

Changes in farm workforce organisation and their subsequent impacts on skill needs and the human resource management strategies deployed on farms are increasingly important factors in the sustainability and competitiveness of Australian agriculture. However policy discussions about Australia’s agricultural workforce remain restricted largely to issues associated with workforce supply. This paper identifies a large range of important challenges Australian agriculture faces in managing an agricultural workforce and discusses what farmers, agricultural industry sectors, rural communities and government can do to address them. Drawing on Australian and international research, the paper identifies the reduction in the family workforce, as a proportion of the total farm workforce, as the most significant workforce change. Other significant changes are the increased use of casual and contract workforces and the use of labour saving technology that reduces total labour demand, but requires increased skills. Together these changes have transformed the social relations of production in that farmers need to look beyond the farm gate to consider: Why would anyone come and work on my farm and for me? The reputation farmers and the agriculture sector builds for attracting and developing a workforce is therefore arguably as important as its reputation to consumers in other areas such as the environment and product quality. Whilst droughts, the mining boom and population decline in some regional areas has provided a difficult environment for the attraction and retention of staff, an often overlooked influence on workforce supply is the unique ways employers across agriculture conduct their human resource management and build good reputations as employers. In addition, the practices of different agricultural industries to support career paths or engage with the communities in which workforces are sourced is rarely discussed. Yet it is these practices that point to the need for farm-by-farm, regional and sector-specific workforce development approaches to address workforce challenges. Without leadership in these areas within the agricultural sector itself, it is difficult to envisage how the future skills and experience that Australian agriculture requires will be built or supported in the community.
 

 

$12.10


FPJ1202D, Tomlinson, A (2015), Improving Skills and Capacity in the Australian Grains Industry in Australian Agriculture

FPJ1202D, Tomlinson, A (2015), Improving Skills and Capacity in the Australian Grains Industry in Australian Agriculture, in Farm Policy Journal: Vol. 12 No. 2, Winter, pp. 29-35.

The Australian grains industry has undergone major structural changes over recent decades, including governments withdrawing resources from research and extension services and also dismantling statutory marketing arrangements such as the Australian Wheat Board. There have also been major changes in grain production practices such as developments in precision farming technologies and an increased demand for non-family labour. These changes have effectively transformed the workforce requirements of the Australian grains industry.

This paper provides a limited review of the literature available to define the concept of a skills and capacity framework as well as why labour and improving skills and capacity is important for the grains industry. The paper identifies some strengths and weaknesses in workforce initiatives undertaken within the Australian grains industry to improve skills and capacity. Opportunities were also identified for improving industry workforce skills and capacity which could potentially assist the Australian grains industry achieve higher rates of productivity growth in the future.

 

$12.10


FPJ1202E, Winter, S (2015) , The Long (and Winding) Road to Safety

FPJ1202E, Winter, S (2015) , The Long (and Winding) Road to Safety, in Farm Policy Journal: Vol. 12 No. 2, Winter, pp. 37-45.

The primary industries are still among the most dangerous workplace environments in Australia. There are many ways in which farming, fishing and forestry enterprises can improve work health and safety (WHS), but they are under-utilised. Primary industries have traditionally had a culture based on individuals valuing self-reliance, tending to underestimate the likelihood of injury to themselves and others, viewing health and safety risks as an inevitable part of ‘doing business’ and inaccurately believing that managing WHS risks is complicated, expensive and unnecessary. However, primary producers have also suggested that with strong leadership and positive attitudes from key people and communities, the creation of a ‘culture’ of safety is possible.

This paper discusses the notion of a safety culture and how it might be constructed. International expert Professor Patrick Hudson contends that organisations advance through a range of categories before they reach such a culture, where they are intrinsically motivated to be safe even when there seems no obvious reason. The bad news is that creating such a system and keeping it alive is not a particularly easy task, especially given the large number of businesses and the mix of individual operators and corporate entities that make up primary industries. The good news is that it is worthwhile, both in terms of lives and profits.

The Primary Industries Health and Safety Partnership (PIHSP) is piloting a contemporary approach to improving organisational culture, and will look to other industries to identify what has worked in other sectors. The PIHSP is funded by the Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) for the cotton, grains, livestock, meat processing and fishing industries and the Rural Industries RDC. In order to advance the safety culture, the PIHSP aims to implement high-impact, targeted research, development and extension (RD&E) programs in a new approach which places greater emphasis on better understanding and then effectively overcoming the barriers to WHS in primary industries. The Partnership’s objectives are based on the conclusion that the scope and capacity of a worker to make a decision on WHS is constrained or enabled by a complex set of key influencers and the interactions between them.

$12.10


FPJ1202F, Leith, R & Davidson, A (2015), Measuring the Efficiency of Horticultural Labour: Case Study on Seasonal Workers and Working Holiday Makers

FPJ1202F, Leith, R & Davidson, A (2015), Measuring the Efficiency of Horticultural Labour: Case Study on Seasonal Workers and Working Holiday Makers, in Farm Policy Journal: Vol. 12 No. 2, Winter, pp. 47-52.

This study estimates the relative efficiency of workers hired under the Working Holiday Visa initiative and the Seasonal Worker Programme, using the payroll data of a horticultural farm in Queensland. The study found that seasonal workers were, on average, significantly more efficient than working holiday makers. However, no conclusions can be made about the impact of these two labour sources on profitability.

$12.10


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