John Ralph Essay Competition 2019: What is the future for animal agriculture?


The Australian Farm Institute established the annual John Ralph Essay Competition in 2010 to honour John Ralph, who was the inaugural Chairman of the Australian Farm Institute. John made a major contribution to the Australian Farm Institute during his six years of chairmanship, and always insisted that comprehensive and objective research should be the basis for policy decisions, particularly for a sector such as agriculture, which has a wide diversity of different commodity groups and business arrangements. (More information about the history and previous winners of the competition is available here.)

The 2019 John Ralph Essay Competition winner is Jessica Ramsden, Head of Corporate and Government Affairs at Elanco Australasia and PhD Candidate at the Australian National University. Jessica's article answers the question: What is the future for animal agriculture?

Her winning essay is titled: 'Same same, but different: creating positive futures for Australian animal agriculture'.

Download the winning essay >>

The topic for the 2019 John Ralph Essay Competition is:

What is the future for animal agriculture?

The livestock industry makes a significant economic and social contribution to Australia as an employer and provider of nutrition, yet the sector faces challenges in the public perception of the environmental cost of traditional livestock production, changing animal welfare expectations and the emergence of alternative protein sources.

In addition, the impacts of climate change are not a threat but a reality for livestock producers. However, transition to new systems requires capital investment and many farming businesses are already under immense financial and environmental pressures due to long-standing droughts across the country as well as recent floods.

With animal activism in the news, climate change threatening existing farming systems and the trend to veganism still growing around the world, what does the future look like for animal agriculture?

Essays must be no more than 4000 words in length and can argue for or against the above proposition. In either case, the essay must contain factual information in support of the argument being advanced and must be properly referenced. Where appropriate, the essays should also discuss proposed policy changes that the author believes could address the issues raised.

Entries will be judged using the following criteria:

  • Completeness: entries must address all the issues raised in the competition topic.
  • Originality: entries should go beyond just repeating 'common' beliefs, and carefully and objectively examine the question posed by the topic.
  • Comprehensiveness: entries should canvass the full extent of the issue, and carefully consider the positives and negatives arising from any proposed 'solution'.
  • Practicality: any proposals will need to find the right balance between being bold and practical – there should be a reasonable chance proposals could be adopted.
  • Clarity: entries should be written in clear, jargon-free language so that it is easily read and understood.