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The brave new world of venture funding in agriculture

Richard Heath - Friday, March 23, 2018

Venture capital funding of agtech is here and it is a weird and confusing place. Ever since the Monsanto acquisition of The Climate Corporation in 2013 there has been a frenzy of activity trying to cash in on the boom that is agtech. Silicon Valley is well and truly in love with agriculture and food - and start-ups who are going to solve the problems of the world through better and more sustainable farming practices are everywhere.  View the rest of the post here

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‘Clean meat’ is a misnomer, in more ways than one

Mick Keogh - Tuesday, March 06, 2018

So-called ‘clean meat’ is the latest darling of the stock market in the USA, with major investors putting their money into start-ups like Impossible Foods, Hampton Creek, and MosaMeat. Quite a few commentators and activists have claimed that these developments in alternative proteins signal the end of animal agriculture as we know it, citing ‘significant advantages’ in environmental and animal welfare outcomes as key reasons for the transition.  View the rest of the post here

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The inconvenient truth about ‘happy’ chooks

Richard Heath - Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A lot of feathers have been ruffled in the debate on egg farming. Definitions of ‘free range’ are disputed and reviewed, ‘happy’ eggs command market premiums, cage farmers are targeted by activists. All this is based on the understandable public assumption that chooks living outside cages are intrinsically happier than those inside. View the rest of the post here

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United we stand to advance Australian fare

Richard Heath - Monday, February 19, 2018

In a week that had us all reaching for the popcorn waiting to see what spectacular political calamity was going to unfold in the next 10 minutes, Australian agriculture bucked the trend with two significant announcements of unification and common purpose. View the rest of the post here

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Inquiry risks contaminating GM debate

Richard Heath - Monday, February 12, 2018

The Government of Western Australia is currently running an ‘Inquiry into mechanisms for compensation for economic loss to farmers in Western Australia caused by contamination by genetically modified (GM) material’. The inquiry continues the discussion around how – or indeed whether - agricultural practices that use GM material, and those that don’t (predominately organically certified agriculture) can co-exist.  View the rest of the post here

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AOTY celebrates expertise – and so should we

Richard Heath - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The 2018 Australian and Senior Australian of the Year awards have been bestowed upon two eminent scientists, Professor Michelle Simmons and Dr Graham Farquhar. In the age of Wikipedia wisdom and the Google guru, these awards are an important reminder that being an expert is not something to be ashamed of but instead something to be celebrated and admired. View the rest of the post here

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Is a $100B target for agriculture ambitious enough?

Richard Heath - Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) recently held its first meeting with the new Agriculture and Water Resources Minister, David Littleproud. In this meeting the NFF emphasised the goal for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry by 2030. That target would require another $30 billion to be added to the value of agriculture (including forestry and fisheries) over the next 13 years, a significant growth in output and one that is not going to happen by accident.  View the rest of the post here

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Sidelining regional education is a short-sighted solution

Richard Heath - Monday, January 08, 2018

Regionally based education helps to drive the economic development of rural, regional and remote communities. It is not surprising then that people across the country have been shocked by the decision to close the Schools of the Air in Western Australia.  View the rest of the post here

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Why farmers don't make 'rational' decisions

Richard Heath - Thursday, December 14, 2017

I discovered the presence of human life in a place where economists thought it did not exist: the economy”. This is how Richard H. Thaler amusingly described the behavioural economics research for which he was recently awarded the Nobel prize for economics. View the rest of the post here

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#glyphosateisvital but do consumers agree?

Richard Heath - Monday, October 23, 2017

In the next few days the European Commission is scheduled to vote on whether to extend the registration of glyphosate, the active ingredient of the worlds most widely used weedkiller, Roundup. If an extension is not approved, it will essentially lead to the banning of glyphosate in Europe. Despite the overwhelming balance of evidence pointing to glyphosate being safe, and essential for many farming systems, it appears that the vote will be going down to the wire in what has become an overly politicised process. View the rest of the post here

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