Articles on Agriculture

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In 2008, Chinese baby formula and milk products were tainted with melamine, killing six babies and hospitalising many more. EPA/Wu Hong

SPC Ardmona’s bailout is crucial given China’s food safety record

SPC Ardmona’s $22 million lifeline from the Victorian government seems to have saved Australia’s largest food packaging company. Yet the firm’s recent tribulations are a reminder of why I regularly choose…
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? 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…
Greater diversity of insects, you say? Sounds like lunch. Ariefrahman

Organic farming benefits go beyond the food, into the field

Organic farming is a trade off: it prohibits the use of certain chemicals and inorganic fertilisers, which usually results in lower yields, and hence higher prices. With arguments about health benefits…
Wheat fields in central New South Wales. Sam Ilić/Flickr

Australian trade beats aid in boosting global food security

Should Australia aim to become Asia’s “food bowl”? How can we help farmers earn more for what they produce? And how can Australia best contribute to global food security? Those are some of the crucial…
Moving from cooperative to corporation could lure foreign investment for grain marketing group CBH, funding its aggressive expansion plans. AAP/Dan Peled

Lost in the maize? The future for Aussie grain cooperatives is bleak

Long a favoured model for Australian farmers operating in a risky and precarious industry, cooperatives seem increasingly anachronistic as greater numbers move toward demutualisation. This is a mistake…
More appealing and often more effective than concrete flood barriers. John Haynes

Restore our meadows, a most cost-effective flood defence

For the second winter running the UK has been hit by widespread flooding, accompanied by agonised debates over whether government is really committed to adequate spending on flood defence. Largely overlooked…
We need more, but more of what? Perhaps not this. David Giles/PA

How to feed nine billion people, and feed them well

Resource-intensive agriculture, despite its productivity, nevertheless has failed to feed the world’s current population, never mind the nine billion people expected by 2050. This system that currently…
Saving seeds can protect us from future calamities. Simone Cottrell/AAP

Seed banks: saving for the future

In 1926, just outside of St Petersburg in Russia, botanist and geneticist Nikolai Vavilov set up the Pavlovsk Experimental Station. It was one of the world’s first “seed banks”. The term “seed bank” or…
“No” doesn’t really cover the nuances of the GM debate. Darko Vojinovic/AP

Terminator seeds will not usher in an agricultural judgement day

In the polarised and fractious debate over the use of genetic modification in agriculture, few issues have raised hackles as much as the proposed use of genetic use restriction techniques (GURT), more…
People should not be hungry with the food, resources, and technology at our disposal. PA

Staying alive shouldn’t depend on your purchasing power

How much would you pay for staying alive? How much would you pay for breathing pure air? That may seem a silly question since air is everywhere, accessible to all. Air is a global public good, part of…
Instead of developing a northern foodbowl to feed our neighbours, Australia could help them feed themselves. Neils Photography/Flickr

Australia should help East Timor feed itself

A nation that destroys its soils, destroys itself — Franklin Roosevelt It is a worthy objective to sell more food to Asia, but we should not conflate pursuing export income with improving regional food…
Profits drive the industry, not sustainability. naturalengland

Pitting profits and food supply against the natural world

The arguments for increasing food demand are well publicised and well understood. By the middle of this century, the planet’s population will top nine billion, presenting a third more mouths to feed. Much…
Once animals leave Australia, we have limited control over what happens to them. AAP Image/Animals Australia)

Can live animal export ever be humane?

Last week, video footage of animal cruelty kicked off yet another live export controversy. The footage appeared to show not just confronting and inappropriate animal treatment, but the likely movement…
Close to 90% of Australia’s farmland remains locally owned. Flickr: Cha222

Why not let agriculture benefit from foreign investment?

Why do we clamour to keep foreign-owned car makers here, paying them billions of dollars to stay, while being wary of foreign investment in farms? Around 0.1% of foreign investment last year was in agriculture…

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