As 2016 draws to a close, the Centre for Agribusiness and all involved extend a warm thank you for your interest and attention in our first 6 months. From our launch event in July we have enjoyed collaborating with partners both local and international on some projects that have already yielded important results, with other projects having been established in the second part of the year. Make sure to read up on our ongoing projects via the Project Pipeline.

We’ve been excited to announce the $1m funding for the SMART Region Incubator and continue to progress development of those spaces; we’ve welcomed visiting academic staff and friends from University of Wyoming, USA and University of Bonn, Germany. Together with UNE Business School and AARES New England Branch, we’ve been pleased to bring you seminars from our international visitors as well as special guests such as David Hughes, talking key issues for the future of the food sector. Some great work is being done by Dr Shawn Leu and Mr Ed Lefley in taking a closer look at the resilience of our regional economy, opening up bigger conversations around regional centres and business.

Our launch event in July was also an opportunity to hear from the team of five UNE students who visited Aarhus, Denmark in June 2016 to compete in The International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) Student Case Study Competition. Sarah Rohr shared with us her impressions of the visit, and a few months on the team were lucky enough to visit Canberra for an afternoon in Parliament House, an opportunity to speak with key politicians and policy makers in the agribusiness sector. UNE Business School with School of Environmental and Rural Science are now in the process of selecting next year’s team for the event in Florida, USA.

An excellent chance to share our work and spread the word about the Centre for Agribusiness was our involvement alongside other UNE colleagues in this year’s GrowAg event in Albury in September. UNE was able to lead the way on key conversations about the future of agribusiness in Australia. We were pleased to spend time with some young leaders in the industry who just so happen to be UNE graduates – we have great reflections on the conference from Lizzie Star and Kirsty McCormack. It’s work like this that continues to inspire and motivate the Centre for Agribusiness.

In the past month, work on the survey of Armidale food shoppers, in the context of Aldi’s opening, has continued.  A short preliminary report on the results of brand and store loyalty investigations is available via the Centre for Agribusiness blog. David Hadley is continuing his work on NSW’s glasshouse sector, and attended a meeting in Sydney to discuss investment for food competitiveness – he has shared his report in full on the blog.

Myself, Philip Morley and Michael Coleman finished up work on an international project on measurement techniques for livestock data in developing countries. Funded by the FAO, this project included pilot data collection activities in Indonesia, Tanzania and Botswana. A presentation of results from Botswana was made at the recent conference of the seventh International Conference on Agricultural Statistics in Rome, available via DropBox. This work is continuing to provide material for research, particularly by Omphile Temoso who is estimating productivity relationships for livestock in the pilot countries.

On 15 November I traveled to Sydney with David Miron to attend the Farming Smarter CRC planning workshop.  Some 65 participants attended, from across Australia and from industry, government and universities.  The Farming Smarter prospectus is available here. More information about Research and Innovation Network for Precision Agriculture Systems (RINPAS) can be found via the website.

We’re pleased to share a story published by North Queensland Register recently about Bachelor of Agribusiness alumnus Joel Bentley, member of 2 year Food Value Chain Innovators: Emerging Leaders Program. Joel is one of the industry’s young innovators and we’re proud to see what great work he’s done since he left UNE.
This month ABC reports a record wheat crop, The Land sees changes at Murray Goulbourn, and ANZ provides a warning on agriculture’s future funding situation.

Broken weather in New England is not quite delivering the rain, but we live in hope in the Season of Cheer.  I wish everyone in Business Outside City Limits all the best in the New Year.

Derek BakerDerek Baker
Director, UNE Centre for Agribusiness