Occasional Papers

Contemporary Issues in Rural Australia was previously published by The Centre for the Study of Agribusiness (CSA) at Marcus Oldham College. The purpose of the occasional papers series is to inform and encourage discussion on the broad range of issues facing rural and regional Australia.


The growing global population and its demand for food has highlighted the potential of investments in agriculture and food production. Consequently, Australia has seen an increasing number of corporate and foreign acquisitions of farms farmland and other agribusinesses. This structural shift from Australian family farming to corporate or foreign ownership is an emotive issue, receiving much media attention.

The Australian meat industry is under perpetual pressure from competitive exporting countries to meet high consumer expectations. Meeting international market requirements for a consistent, high-quality product are key operational focusses for the lot-feeding and meat-processing sectors within Australia. Supplying a high standard of product, whilst minimising non-compliance rates and economic impact are major industry goals.


This paper draws on current entrepreneurial research literature to discuss culture. Specifically how the concept of culture is understood and how it impacts on entrepreneurship. The paper poses the question ‘can the characteristics of a rural community have an influence on the development and survival of local entrepreneurs?’ The paper proposes some opportunities for further activity that other rural communities who are considering boosting their community’s economic development through entrepreneurial development strategies might consider.

New developments in technology are continuously opening up possibilities for individuals to have a career in regional Australia that spans far more than just traditional agriculture. The demand for people who have the skills to understand technology and data it creates in ways that it can be used for government and private business models will be enormous over the next decade.

This report examines several current and emerging biotechnology applications for the cattle industry and finds that biotechnology and its application have a major role to play in the future of these cattle based industries.

For Australian agriculture to continue to grow, be productive, vigorous and competitive in an increasingly open global marketplace, it requires capital investment. Capital investment will come from existing Australian owned family enterprises that continue to expand, but due to the large amount of capital required with significant equity, there will be an increase in corporate and foreign ownership of Australian farms and agribusinesses.


As is the case internationally, Australia is undergoing a continuing trend toward urbanisation. In 2012 only 31% of the Australian population lived outside the capital cities (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1998). Reasons for people moving from the rural and regional areas into the urban centres include: the urbanisation of employment opportunities; education; and ageing and retirement.

Population mobility partly explains an increasing gap in health status whereby people living in the rural and regional areas have worse health on a range of indicators relative to their same-aged urban peers. In the report that follows we summarise a range of information on health trends outside of the urban centres and then examine potential strategies for advancing health in these areas.


Ensuring food security for 9‐billion people by 2050 is now recognised as a core international priority, closely linked with broader economic stability and requiring not only action by individual states but also global collective action.

The 2007/08 global food price crisis exposed the vulnerability of the global food system and led to significant social unrest in some countries.

It also revealed widespread trade distortions, restrictions and a lack of reliable market information.

The title of this paper could have been ‘Opportunities for Australian beef industry in Japan’ if it was written in the 1980s or 1990s, or ‘in China’ in recent years (or ‘in the US’ if in the 1960s).

Today, our beef industry faces unprecedented demand from the entire Asia Pacific as well as the Middle East.

In this brief document, we explore the current situation of the Australian beef industry, forces that are now re‐shaping Australia’s trade, and our strengths and opportunities in key Asian markets.

In Trent’s view, agriculture faces headwinds in its capacity to continue to provide productivity improvement due to the activities of third parties who have no on-farm involvement in agriculture nor any detailed knowledge necessarily. Politicians, food marketers, and other lobby groups make policies, and make claims about agriculture that are not necessarily correct and that reduce the capacity of our industry to provide the food the world needs.

If we are to counter those well organized, high profile, educated and well-resourced groups we need to:

Become much more successful advocates for our industry and counter negative views whenever we can;
Identify, celebrate, and support leaders who understand our industry and its consumers and who can help to close the gap between food producers and food consumers;
Use our advocacy and our leaders to ensure the story of agriculture as essential to life, sustainable, respectful to animals, and highly productive is spread widely and counters arguments made by other groups not well disposed towards our industry.

Entrepreneurship is not a new concept, however it has gained prominence post WWII as innovation in science and technology and the rise of new economic powerhouses has contributed to new global economic realities. As part of this new reality, entrepreneurship is being viewed as essential to a vital economy – innovation creates demand for new products, for new ways of doing things and for providing services we need. New businesses also contribute significantly to growth in employment.

Entrepreneurship is not for everybody. In their latest global report on entrepreneurship, the Global Economic Monitor [GEM] (Amway and Technische Universitat Munchen School of Management 2013) interviewed 26,009 people aged 14 or older across 24 countries. GEM found that Australian survey respondents had a very positive attitude towards entrepreneurship at 84% (the 3rd highest ranking). However when the researchers compared the number of survey respondents who showed potential to become entrepreneurs in Australia as compared to those that had taken up self-employment they found a gap of 44% (the average result for all countries surveyed was 31%). This result would suggest
that the actual and perceived barriers to entrepreneurship in Australia are deterring more would be entrepreneurs here than the average across the 23 other countries surveyed.

As defined by Radimer (2002) food security is the ability of all people to access at all times enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security can be broken into two components or aspects:

food supply
food safety

Countries place different levels of importance on these aspects depending on the risks they face. Food security is important at global, national and regional levels. The global challenge will be to increase food production through improved agricultural productivity, whilst managing environmental impacts and ensuring equitable access to food across the world’s nations and regions.


Apart from their occupation being so closely associated with their lifestyles, farmers have to be technically able and astute business men and women. This raises a few issues such as:

work life balance;
the relationship between lifestyle and business decisions;
the distinction between business thinking and technical thinking;
the need to integrate both business and technical thinking into their farm decisions.

This study explores a number of these issues with successful dairy operators who are leaders in their industry and who have high levels of education. In particular the study investigates the perceptions of a group of well-educated successful farmers about their skills as technicians and as business decision makers, as well as how they resolve the work-life balance that attends living in the place of work.

The ongoing focus on live animal exports and the Four Corners report last year on the slaughter of Australian cattle in Indonesian abattoirs as well as the more recent footage of sheep being slaughtered in the Middle East has made animal welfare a hot topic for the broad Australian community but for livestock producers especially.

For most producers, concern for animal welfare might be seen as a preserve of the animal liberationists, pop stars and city folk who don’t know what really happens on a farm. But it’s time to stop and think again. Caring about animal welfare can actually be good for the producer and good for business. Animal welfare is all about the mental and physical well-being of animals. Good management and good welfare are well aligned and there are many ways this can help the bottom line.