Recent comments by: John Hine
Agribuzz with David Leyonhjelm
The tragedy here is that sound science and economics mean that we can have ethical food and increase yields. However, there is no dodging the issue, increasingly supermarkets and restaurant chains are requiring proof of sound management.
If levies are to be voluntary, those who pay the levy then surely own the research results and those who dont pay the levy would then have to pay to access toe research results?
The other option is to halve the levies and allow farmers access to R&D tax concessions like other businesses, so they can do their own research when they want, without having to go to a committee for approval?
Anyone who thinks they can ignore a major customer, eg McDonald's, is in for a surprise.
Sensibly designed, such certification schemes can be a real benefit, in providing a frame work for better land use management.
A matter of opinion
Time to look at how Australia does agricultural R&D? Yes, there are big complex basic science issues but if you want applied research on local issues, groups such as the Birchip Cropping Group,a farmer owned local R&D group in NW Victoria, employs some 20 odd people to do work on local issues.
Burrs under my saddle
Difficult question but, where the top 25% of farmers produce 60% plus of product and make a good RoI, and the bottom 25% prodouce 8% of product and make a 1% RoI, there is a lesson here? Suggests to me that some farms are managed better than others? As with any other sector, its business skills that is the key, not farming skills. Too much of previous farm support hindered the growth of business skills.
There is no getting away from the fact that food purchasers such as MacDonalds want proof of sustainability, and safety.
The beef, and other farm, and processing, groups, just have to get on board and make it work.
A sensible approach will gain more markets AND result in lower operating costs through lower energy use and better land use management.
No use complaining, get on board and make it work for both sides.
I thought the earlier work on drought policy concluded that preparing for drought was more important than financial support during drought.
We do need to look hard at rural resilience but in the light of more scientific land use management and moving from commodity beef to products targeted at specific market niches.
Out of the shadow
Interesting article, but both sides of politics need to recognise that current agriculture policy has totally failed, with low levels of investment by Australians but high investment from overseas, no off-shore investment, low value adding, limited overseas consulting sales etc. We need a dramatic re-think. Tweaking a broken system wont be enough.
* who sold their shares in AWB Ltd to Agrium? Farmers???
* a time for an Aussie farm coop to buy a low-priced Landmark??
Yes, of course we need a free trade agreement with China. However, to make the most of it in agriculture, we need more farm cooperatives or smaller farms merged into bigger ones so we have the Australian groups to manage sales rather than rely on overseas groups eg Cargill.
Perhaps we are relying too much on R&D Corporations and not on farmers, or groups of farmers, or cooperatives etc, doing their own proprietary research on local issues and on addressing crops etc for target markets. I suspect we need more groups like the Birchip Cropping Group, owned by farmers in NW Victoria, which now employs some 20 researchers and extension officers working with farmers on issues they choose, not issues a committee has chosen for them.
Trouble is so many farmers are still commodity producers and havnt got together in coops or marketing groups to target niche markets. To succeed as a commodity producer you have to be big and very efficient.
Two key questions:
* why did so few farmers buy shares in 'their' coop
* why did MG have to go off-shore to seek investors? Why dont our super funds look at such investment?
If smaller farmers want to stay players in the Asian market, they need to join together in cooperatives or marketing companies and start producing quality products aimed at market niches, not commodities.
Supermarkets and manufacturers want guaranteed supplies of raw material of defined quality. No room for small suppliers? Probably true. Well, get together in cooperatives or marketing companies and get big! The alternative if you want to stay small is to find a niche market for a specialty product.
Surely, a balanced plan for the future decided by adults is better than a forced legal framework?
What isnt mentioned is how to cope with the insects, birds and mammals (wallabies etc) that memory tells me was the killer with previous attempts. 'Traditional' crops may not work (sandalwood is now the main crop for the Ord) and this may well be an area for big players, leaving little room for Australian farmers unless they get much better organised.
So, even if climate change is not an issue, sensible application of science can lead to major financial outcomes.
Actually, the key outcome of such a move to Wagga will be to lose skilled staff, who wont move as they would lose out in the medium term as their next job probably wont be in Wagga. Dumb stuff. Study after study shows that building up local businesses is the key, not such subsidies.
If farmers want investment, they need business structures that will allow an equity investment. The only other way to invest in agriculture is to buy the whole farm. Equity investors of course want a say in farm management........
Its a tricky one, the millers use their equipment and their technology to mill the sugar. Most would think that the mills therefore own the sugar.
Surely, the way forward is to develop a good working relationship between the growers and millers, especially given all the potential for biomanufacturing, now that bagasse fractionation may have been resolved. The cheap glucose from bagasse fractionation changes the whole equation on fermentation industries. Its more than just ethanol, its all kinds of higher value chemicals that can be made by fermentation. Fermenters will be mill based.
Australia needs a really close look at coops. We are probably one of the countries in the western world with the lowest use of coops. US communities are using coops to run solar energy programs. Look at Rabobank, Danish Crown, Flora Holland and others for what a coop can do.
Sorry Jock, single desks are about commodities, we need to be moving into products.
There is still a case for farmers working together in cooperatives or marketing groups to be able to afford the right kind of marketing expertise to complement their farming skills.
Yes, choose the right crop variety for your soils and climate but also after talking to your customer? Suggestions that Australia grows the wrong sort of wheat for Asian bread tastes is a worry. Now we have deregulated markets, groups of growers can get together to find a specific customer for the crops they grow.
When the success of farm coops overseas, eg Fonterra, CHS, Danish Crown, Flora Holland, I really wonder why Australian farmers have not looked more at coops. There seems to be a lot in it. Pity about Bega/Sapputo, may have looked good in the short term but now those dairy farmers have no share in processing and are stuck with a per litre milk price. Short term thinking??
There is going to be no avoiding proving ethical food production, regardless of the crop or animals produced. The real plus is that, done properly, ethical production saves money as well as giving preferred market entry.
Sounds like an excellent project. Shouldnt we be looking to do more of this kind of thing?
But then CBH is a coop, so they have the size to do this kind of thing.
Yes, we should look again at coops as a way to move out of commodities and into products.
However, there is no way of avoiding being internationally competitive as well, including proving that your business is environmentally sustainable.
Good stuff but two points;
* the move to casual labour really means lower wages and reduced spending and so businesses suffer. Coles and Woolies are already finding it tough as people have had to go to cheaper Aldi to survive.
* innovation generally does NOT come from R&D, it comes from businesses finding a new gap in the market.
Trick with how levies now operate is that is assumes all members of an industry have the same goals, markets etc.
Why not cut levies in half, for long term projects, and negotiate access to R&D tax concessions for farmers in return. This would allow those farmers, or co-ops or groups of farmers, with their own projects to just do it without having to wait for annual rounds and having to get a committee to approve it.
Compulsory levies are for commodities, R&D tax concessions are for products. Which way to we went to go? Surely, products??
There are issues with labelling of house brands and the 'made in Australia' label. The lack of support for local manufacturers by W and C is notorious.
However, if our food processors persist in making products that have a declining market share eg canned peaches, they will be in trouble. They need to be into higher value products that are harder to import.
Actually, I thought we exported our navel oranges to California and China?
Oh, immigrants dont steal jobs,, they create them by creating extra demand.
Re our costs, we have two choices, go the low wage route and eat lower quality food and farmers suffer, or get into automation. The last 100 years has seen more and more automation and an ever higher standard of living. I know which way I want to go.
And if the bush thinks they have problems with speed now, wait until satellite land use management systems get sorted out. There is huge potential here but you will need high speed broadband to make it useable.
Well,if we are not going to sell GrainCorp, which emotionally I support, we have to look at quite different business models for agriculture and its financing. Its hard to see how GrainCorp, with its share price now down, can raise the capital it needs to improve its infrastructure. Should we look to turn GrainCorp into a Fonterra-like cooperative? Either way, farmers may need to invest in groups such as GrainCorp and we have to look at why our superannuation funds wont invest in agriculture here but those from overseas will.
Isnt RARA Rural and Regional Australia?? Re DFI, if no-one from here will invest in our farms, isnt it good that someone else will? Also, dont forget that Some Australian companies invest overseas, check out Brambles, Australian Laboratory Services, the ANZ Bank and Granny Mays. Why havent we built on our good base to invest in farming overseas? Perhaps we need some new ways to organise our farming? Cooperatives?? No? Well, what about Fonterra, Rabobank, Flora Holland, CHS (one of the top 100 companies in the USA) and Ocean Spray.
It seems to me that there is a good case for climate change being real.
The tragedy is that many ways to deal with emissions mean improved productivity and lower energy use. so, why is this so much of a problem?
Another example of how we could use our good quality science as an international business opportunity.
Now we need to have our mango growers develop an alliance with the Indonesian growers for their mutual benefit.
A key gap in Australian agriculture is lack of overseas investment. could this we a way to start the process?
Time fro some imaginative marketing, linked with (gasp) those demons from Coles and Woolies??
Also time to have another look at imported pig genetics? If we dont have the best pigs we may continue to slide backwards.
Perhaps not large scale corporate but certainly not small, independent,commodity focused farms either.
Yes, costs have risen and returns stay pretty much the same. Ask manufacturers who will probably say the same.
Cooperation in production will save money and there is some pretty fancy automation around now. Cooperation in markets will allow niche marketing.
More of the same is unlikely to work, we need to look at new ways to do things.