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Opportunities to Improve the Effectiveness of Australian Farmers' Advocacy Groups

The farm sector in Australia has frequently been critical of decisions by government, and it is probably fair to say that many involved in farming or living in rural Australia believe policy-makers have become too remote from the sector, and hence make decisions in ignorance of the reality of running a farm business. Yet somewhat ironically, farmers in Australia often appear to find it almost impossible to come together and present a clear voice to government and the wider community. In fact of almost all farming sectors worldwide, the Australian farm sector is the least ‘organised’, and has very few examples of successful collective action – either in pursuit of policy or commercial objectives. Why this might be the case is a matter of speculation. It could be that the history of poor outcomes from statutory interventions has created a farming culture that is suspicious of collectivism. It could be the fact that Australian farmers typically live in isolation on their farms instead of in towns and villages – as is the case for most farmers internationally – has created a population of farmers who are highly individualistic and who prefer to fix their own problems rather than cooperate with others. With the total number of farmers in Australia now little more than the number of people in a single national electorate, it seems critically important that those involved in the sector find a way to ensure that the voice of farmers is clearly heard amongst the corridors of power in Canberra and the various state capitals. Yet the existing farm advocacy bodies in Australia are facing shrinking resources and loss of membership, and finding it harder and harder to sustain their organisations. The research detailed here is an attempt to examine some of the factors impacting on farm advocacy organisations in Australia, and in particular to identify options that may be available help those organisations develop business models that are more sustainable in the long term, and which provide them with the capacity to advocate strongly on behalf of the farmers of Australia.

Full report, pp. 1-102 (118 pages), March 2014
Australian Farm Institute
Authors: Potard G, Keogh M
ISBN 978-1-921808-27-2 (Print)
ISBN 978-1-921808-28-9 (Web)




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Assessing the Opportunities for Achieving Future Productivity Growth in Australian Agriculture

It is widely recognised that in order for the Australian agricultural sector to remain domestically and internationally competitive, continued and perhaps even accelerated productivity growth is required. The need for domestic competitiveness arises because limits exist to natural and human resources in Australia, and agriculture faces increasing competition from other sectors for access to these. The need for international competitiveness arises due to the emergence of major new agricultural exporting nations that have a much richer natural resource base and much lower cost structures than Australian agricultural businesses, and which are becoming major competitors in global agricultural markets. While the need for productivity growth in Australian agriculture is well recognised, what is less clear is how that productivity growth might be achieved. The current ‘environment’ is not conducive to accelerated agricultural productivity growth, with declining real levels of investment in research and development, the progressive withdrawal of government services to agriculture, and increasing constraints on access to resources. On the other hand, Australian agriculture has a sound track record of innovation and superior productivity performance, and is not limited by some of the institutional and cultural constraints associated with the agricultural sectors of other developed nations. Some of Australia’s leading agricultural researchers were asked to contribute to this report, which explores the scope of the productivity challenge facing Australian agriculture, and seeks to identify specific technologies and initiatives that could realistically assist the sector to attain the levels of productivity growth that are likely to be required in the future. It is hoped that these papers will act as a catalyst for the sector and governments to redouble efforts on a wide range of fronts to tackle Australian agriculture’s future productivity challenge.

Full report, pp. 1-82, November 2012
Australian Farm Institute
Authors: Mullen, J, Tester, M, Goddard, M, Goss, K, Carberry, P, Keating, B, Bellotti, B
ISBN 978-1-921808-23-4 (Print)
ISBN 978-1-921808-24-1 (Web)


Farm Policy Journal: Vol 10 No 4 - Summer 2013 - Full Journal - Do community perceptions of Australian agriculture really matter?

Australian Farm Institute (2013), Farm Policy Journal: Vol 10 Number 4 - Summer 2013, Surry Hills, Australia
ISSN 1449–2210 (Print)
ISSN 1449–8812 (Web)


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