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Title: Change and adjustment in Australia's agricultural heartland
Contributor(s): Sorensen, Anthony (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2011
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Abstract: Australia has one of the most open and free economies in the world and was recently ranked third out of more than 150 nations in 13th annual Index of Economic Freedom, coming after the international trading cities of Singapore and Hong Kong. Australian governments play a relatively small role internationally in determining the fate of individual sectors, and this paper examines the nation's emerging agricultural geographies of production - inputs, outputs, enterprises and infrastructure - under largely free market conditions a direction in which the rest of the world is slowly edging. In particular, the analysis focuses on the country's agricultural heartland running from southern Queensland through to the Western District of Victoria, a distance of over 2000 km. This zone is home to a large proportion of Australia's beef, sheep, coarse grain, cotton, olive, and even wine output, where burgeoning production is managed by ever fewer farm enterprises organised on corporate lines. The first part outlines the relative importance for agricultural development of governments and the private sector, stressing the rising dominance of the latter and the growing constraints under which farm enterprises operate: adverse exchange rate movements and rising competition in global markets; declining industry protection offered by governments; changed financial regimes (including sharply rising water charges); and growing environmental regulation among others. The second part sketches the agricultural sector's response patterns, including the consolidation of farm enterprises in large operations; invention and adoption of new technologies; rising expertise in the farm financial management (including attitude to debt); changes in the mix of crops and livestock produced; outsourcing of inputs; spreading risk; innovative marketing; and producer networking. The strategies look remarkably like the rest of the corporate sector and we are beginning to see city based companies owning portfolios of agricultural land leased to farmer-businessmen, just like supermarkets rarely own the premises in which they trade. The third part considers the spatial implications of the processes which are finally malting primary production little different stylistically to manufacturing or to service delivery. These processes are collectively creating a wealthy farm sector. The only problem for rural regions is that increasingly fewer (though much better paid) people are involved. Is rural development about increasing population or increasing average wealth? If the latter, there isn't much of a problem.
Publication Type: Conference Publication
Conference Name: International Geographical Union (IGU) Commission on the Sustainability of Rural Systems Le Colloque International [International Colloquium], Rabat, Morocco, 9th - 15th July, 2007
Source of Publication: Produits Agricoles, Touristiques et Developpement Local, p. 101-111
Publisher: Association Nationale des Geographes Marocains (ANAGEM)
Place of Publication: Casablanca, Morocco
Field of Research (FOR): 160401 Economic Geography
070104 Agricultural Spatial Analysis and Modelling
160404 Urban and Regional Studies (excl Planning)
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: E1 Refereed Scholarly Conference Publication
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Appears in Collections:Conference Publication

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