General Comments (April 2019)

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In early March, Robert Patterson and Mark Harris attended the 22nd IFMA (International Farm Management Association) Congress in Launceston, Tasmania.

Some observations and quotes from the Congress are as follows:

  • Australian agriculture is losing market access due to flat productivity since 1997

  • There is a critical under-investment in Research and Development (R&D), plus extension in Australian agriculture

  • There is a severe lack of quality, critical infrastructure in the supply chain

  • More farming systems research is required to focus on more resilient systems for the future

  • More collaboration and co-operation is required across disciplines and co-sectoral issues

  • Structural change is required in agriculture to the point where some producers should be paid to exit the industry

  • Agriculture’s social licence to operate cannot continue to be taken for granted

  • “Control what you can control” and maximise efficiencies by working on costs in the supply chain of commodity industries

  • Consumer perceptions of agriculture are critically important·    

  • Thirty three percent of the world’s topsoil has disappeared since 1975, while eighty percent of minerals have been lost from cropping lands

  • Thirty to fifty percent of the world’s food is currently wasted or lost post-harvest

  • We currently eat only 200 plant species, mainly five plants plus five animals

  • There are 6,000 edible plants in Australia

  • The long term decline in world commodity prices in real terms, looks set to continue, while costs increase

  • Market differentiation in grains is not well developed

  • Consumers are willing to pay a premium price based on trust in the information supplied.

GeneralFred Broughton