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Analysis and Comment (24)

China’s market for milk is huge, but not without its challenges. China’s market for milk is huge, but not without its challenges. Mark & Andrea Busse/Flickr

With a free trade deal Australia can win China’s dairy market

The clock is ticking down to the end of year deadline Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has given for sign off on a free trade agreement with China. In this China-Australia FTA series we explore what…
Not all that which is greening is green. Not all that which is greening is green. André Künzelmann/UFZ

The ‘greening’ of Europe’s farms has been a failure

The European policies designed to encourage a more biodiverse environment that is better able to support wildlife and plants are failing. In fact, our analysis of the reforms designed to “green” the EU…
Beef sales in Japan involve tightly controlled captive supply chains. Beef sales in Japan involve tightly controlled captive supply chains. Andy Rain/AAP

Japan-Australia deal leaves beef trade in the 20th century

The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) signed last week is a bilateral trade deal in the old-fashioned mould. In the twenty-first century, global economic negotiations tend to be preoccupied…
Australian farmland is changing hands more often, but data on who is buying and selling is inadequate. Australian farmland is changing hands more often, but data on who is buying and selling is inadequate. Erin Smith

Lost in the paddock: Australia flying blind on farm ownership

The debate about who owns Australia’s farmland is often expressed in crude and narrow ways, and not just on talkback radio. Take last year’s leaders debate at Rooty Hill during the final week of the election…
Abbott: One rule for farmers, another for manufacturers. Abbott: One rule for farmers, another for manufacturers. Andrew Meares/AAP

Moving beyond the agriculture of entitlement

The announcement of drought relief funding for farmers by an Australian prime minister would not normally be a cause for surprise. But last week’s A$324 million drought package comes amid a concerted push…
Patient investors are needed for Australia’s farm sector. Patient investors are needed for Australia’s farm sector. taylr/Flickr

Who will be the next round of investors in Australian farming?

The Victorian Government has a goal of doubling the state’s agricultural production over 20 years. Achieving that will require substantial new investment. A recent report, for example, estimates that Australian…
South Korea has surpassed Australia on many economic measures. South Korea has surpassed Australia on many economic measures. KOREA.NET/Flickr

Can Australia win from FTAs in the Asian Century?

Australia and South Korea are entering a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), but before you think “advanced Western country gains access to a large Asian market”, think again. Economic powers have shifted seismically…
Often called “Australia’s most valuable farm”, Cubbie Station in southwest Queensland is now majority foreign-owned. Often called “Australia’s most valuable farm”, Cubbie Station in southwest Queensland is now majority foreign-owned. AAP/Cubbie Group

Old MacDonald sold the farm: so what’s the future for agriculture?

When most Australians think about farmers, one image still springs to mind: a family in Akubras and Blundstones, battling the elements with a Blue Heeler by their side. That’s still the image invoked by…
Farm debt is increasing in Australia, but will writing it off make more farms viable? Farm debt is increasing in Australia, but will writing it off make more farms viable? Grenville Turner/AAP

Farmers are in debt, and more debt won’t help

Farm debt in Australia has increased by almost 75% over the past decade, from A$40.3 billion in 2004 to an estimated A$70 billion in 2014. Barnaby Joyce, the Federal Minister for Agriculture, has argued…
A shift towards fresh food and improved consumer protections in China provides opportunities and threats for Australian food producers. A shift towards fresh food and improved consumer protections in China provides opportunities and threats for Australian food producers. dcmaster/Flickr

SPC Ardmona and the cheap Chinese food challenge

The political lobbying accompanying the government decision to withhold financial support from SPC Ardmona has overshadowed the big structural issues facing Australia’s preserved food industry. The two…
Australia may be known for its Shiraz, but the rest of the world is catching up. Australia may be known for its Shiraz, but the rest of the world is catching up. jadepalmer/Flickr

Pass the shiraz: variety the spice of life for Australian wine growers

The world’s wine markets have become far more competitive over the past decade, but despite the competition, Australia’s mix of winegrape varieties is not very different from the rest of the world’s. Since…
Milk prices are more expensive in Canada than Australia, which makes WCB an attractive takeover target for Quebec-headquartered Saputo. Milk prices are more expensive in Canada than Australia, which makes WCB an attractive takeover target for Quebec-headquartered Saputo. dugspr/Flickr

Canada’s loss is Australia’s gain in Saputo bid for WCB

Canadian dairy giant Saputo Inc has lifted its stake in Warrnambool Cheese & Butter, as it creeps up the register following its A$504 million bid for Australia’s oldest dairy producer. Saputo is pitted…
The battle for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter is a vote of confidence in the Australian dairy industry. The battle for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter is a vote of confidence in the Australian dairy industry. Johnsyweb/Flickr

WCB battle and farmer ownership: dairy at a crossroads

The share price of Victorian dairy processor Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB) has more than doubled over recent weeks in response to a takeover tussle between Australian publicly listed company Bega…
Golden rice, texture like sun. Golden rice, texture like sun. International Rice Research Institute

Golden rice naysayers ignore the world’s need for nutrition

Recently Zac Goldsmith MP – a former editor of The Ecologist, no less – branded the views of Environment Secretary Owen Patterson as “grotesque” after the minister called anti-GM campaigners “wicked…
Time for real change: the Government’s new draft National Food Plan puts the interests of big business ahead of health, equity, and food security. Time for real change: the Government’s new draft National Food Plan puts the interests of big business ahead of health, equity, and food security. Flickr/mermaid99

The draft National Food Plan: putting corporate hunger first

The Federal Government released on Tuesday the green paper for Australia’s first-ever National Food Plan. According to Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, this plan “will ensure Australia has a sustainable…
It’s time to reconsider using antibiotics as animal growth promoters. It’s time to reconsider using antibiotics as animal growth promoters. Bram Cymet

Would you like superbugs with that? Animal antibiotic use and human health

Two views in today’s Medical Journal of Australia deal with attitudes to risk and economics, but with the added gravitas of a life-or-death outcome added to the consideration. The articles discuss the…
Beef processing contributed to Cargill’s $US2.7 billion in earnings this year. Beef processing contributed to Cargill’s $US2.7 billion in earnings this year. AAP

The most powerful companies you’ve never heard of: Cargill

Welcome to “The most powerful companies you’ve never heard of” – an ongoing series from The Conversation that sheds light on big companies with low profiles. Today, The University of Queensland’s Clive…
Iron-rich rice helps feed the poor: could we do it without patenting? Iron-rich rice helps feed the poor: could we do it without patenting? Jane Rawson

Will patenting crops help feed the hungry?

Rice is the primary source of food for roughly half the world’s population. But it falls well short of providing enough iron, zinc and pro-vitamin A to meet daily nutritional requirements. Iron deficiency…
GM is not being used to make fishbread Frankenfoods. GM is not being used to make fishbread Frankenfoods. Dave Lifson/Flickr

Top five myths about genetic modification

The Conversation asked CSIRO scientist, Richard Richards, to look at the top five myths about genetic modification (GM), and correct the public record. Myth one: GM is just haphazard, imprecise cross-breeding…
Environmental activists have targeted palm oil – an industry crucial to Indonesia’s development. Environmental activists have targeted palm oil – an industry crucial to Indonesia’s development. AAP

Big NGOs should stop monkeying around and get tougher on the West

In 1990 there were about 400 international environmental groups. Today, this number is more like 1.4 million. So why is the world apparently in a worse state now? Have environmental groups paid too much…
The benefits of lifting the import ban on bananas outweigh the risks. The benefits of lifting the import ban on bananas outweigh the risks. Maxey

As the apple import ban crumbles, is it time to go bananas?

The ban on importing apples from New Zealand was lifted earlier this month, bringing to an end a restriction established in 1921. With this long history of protection from imports, it is not unexpected…
The law treats animals as merely “property” – but is this out of step with community expectations? The law treats animals as merely “property” – but is this out of step with community expectations? AAP

When it comes to live animal exports, the law is a strange beast

Last week’s resounding defeat of two private members bills seeking to end live animal exports demonstrates the myopic vision Australian politicians have for the country’s agricultural industry. This is…
Welfare standards adopted as part of the ban being lifted fall short of public expectations. Welfare standards adopted as part of the ban being lifted fall short of public expectations. AAP

Knee-jerk lifting of live animal export ban means we’re almost back to square one

When it comes to the live animal export industry, the government’s knee-jerk reactions leave it open to criticism that it dances to whichever group, industry or the animal activists, plays the loudest…

Research and News (3)

Research Briefs (1)