More than half of Aussie men report experiencing sexual difficulties

Many men were concerned about climaxing too quickly or lacking interest in sex.Krista MangulsoneOne in two Australian men aged 18 to 55 have experienced sexual difficulty in the past 12 months, accord...

Jennifer Power, Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University - avatar Jennifer Power, Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University

Sanders, Harris, Biden... can anyone beat Donald Trump to become the next US president?

No sooner had the US midterm elections for Congress concluded than jockeying began for the presidential elections in 2020. Barring either impeachment, which seems unlikely, or a health crisis, Donald ...

Dennis Altman, Professorial Fellow in Human Security, La Trobe University - avatar Dennis Altman, Professorial Fellow in Human Security, La Trobe University

As many Muslims return to mosques today, they will need ongoing support

A worshipper lights candles at a makeshift memorial at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch.AAP/Mick Tsikas, CC BY-SAToday, many Muslims in New Zealand will be returning for Friday prayers. Some might f...

Fatima Junaid, Lecturer, Massey University - avatar Fatima Junaid, Lecturer, Massey University

'It's real to them, so adults should listen': what children want you to know to help them feel safe

Children and young people told us they were often overwhelmed by the risks that surrounded them.from shutterstock.comIn recent months, we have been confronted by events that make the world seem unsafe...

Tim Moore, Associate Professor and  Deputy Director, Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia - avatar Tim Moore, Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia

A brief history of science writing shows the rise of the female voice

Women played a role as both readers and authors in the history of science writing.Shutterstock/Africa StudioThree centuries ago, when modern science was in its infancy, the gender disparity in educati...

Robyn Arianrhod, Adjunct Associate , School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University - avatar Robyn Arianrhod, Adjunct Associate , School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University

Cannibalism helps fire ants invade new territory

Fire ant stings can be deadly to people who have an allergic reaction to their venom.Forest and Kim Starr/Flickr, CC BY-SATropical fire ants (Solenopsis geminata), originally from central and South Am...

Pauline Lenancker, PhD student in biology and ecology, James Cook University - avatar Pauline Lenancker, PhD student in biology and ecology, James Cook University

We've let wage exploitation become the default experience of migrant workers

Australia’s Fairwork Commission has so far this year examined more than a dozen cases of wage theft. Those cases involve hundred of workers and millions of dollars in underpayments.And it’...

Joo-Cheong Tham, Professor, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne - avatar Joo-Cheong Tham, Professor, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne

Jobs but not enough work. How power keeps workers anxious and wages low

The unemployment rate is 4.9%, but the underemployment rate is 8.1%ShutterstockThis is the third in a three-part mini-symposium on Wages, Unemployment and Underemployment presented by The Conversation...

Barbara Pocock, Emeritus Professor University of South Australia, University of South Australia - avatar Barbara Pocock, Emeritus Professor University of South Australia, University of South Australia

What Parkland's experience tells us about the limits of a 'security' response to Christchurch

In the days before the mass shootings in Christchurch I was visiting Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a school shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018. I was recording a story about ho...

Amanda Tattersall, Postdoc in urban geography and Research Lead at Sydney Policy Lab. Host of ChangeMakers Podcast., University of Sydney - avatar Amanda Tattersall, Postdoc in urban geography and Research Lead at Sydney Policy Lab. Host of ChangeMakers Podcast., University of Sydney

Friday essay: images of mourning and the power of acknowledging grief

These images of Cherine Fahd's grandfather's funeral were tucked away in a brown paper envelope for decades. As a society, we too often keep grief hidden from view. Author providedBefore her death in...

Cherine Fahd, Director Photography, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney - avatar Cherine Fahd, Director Photography, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney

Local Māori urge government to address long-running dispute over rare cultural heritage landscape

Supporters of the campaign to stop commercial development at Ihumaatao.Qiane Matata-Sipu , CC BY-SAAn escalating crisis at Ihumaatao, near Auckland’s airport, is challenging the commercial devel...

Tim McCreanor, Professor Race Relations, Health and Wellbeing, Massey University - avatar Tim McCreanor, Professor Race Relations, Health and Wellbeing, Massey University

Grattan on Friday: Shorten's not getting ahead of himself, but the tape measure is out

With the election likely to be called in about a fortnight – the weekend after the April 2 budget - behind the scenes Labor is “measuring the curtains” of government.Any sign of hubr...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Will the New Zealand gun law changes prevent future mass shootings?

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a ban on certain military-style weapons.AAP/David AlexanderAs she foreshadowed in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre last Friday, New Ze...

Rick Sarre, Professor of Law and Criminal Justice, University of South Australia - avatar Rick Sarre, Professor of Law and Criminal Justice, University of South Australia

NSW election: where do the parties stand on brumby culling?

Feral horses have severely damaged the landscape in Kosciuszko National Park.Travelstine, CC BY-SAThe future management of New South Wales’s national parks is one of the issues on the line in Sa...

Don Driscoll, Professor in Terrestrial Ecology, Deakin University - avatar Don Driscoll, Professor in Terrestrial Ecology, Deakin University

Confused about aged care in the home? These 10 charts explain how it works

Home care providers' profits are growing but many older Australians are missing out on quality care.The Conversation / ShutterstockThis week, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety hea...

Fron Jackson-Webb, Deputy Editor/Senior Health + Medicine Editor - avatar Fron Jackson-Webb, Deputy Editor/Senior Health + Medicine Editor

Jobs but not enough work. How power keeps workers anxious and wages low

The unemployment rate is 4.9%, but the underemployment rate is 8.1%ShutterstockThis is the third in a three-part mini-symposium on Wages, Unemployment and Underemployment presented by The Conversation...

The Conversation - avatar The Conversation

We've let wage exploitation become the default experience of migrant workers

Australia’s Fairwork Commission has so far this year examined more than a dozen cases of wage theft. Those cases involve hundred of workers and millions of dollars in underpayments.And it’...

The Conversation - avatar The Conversation

A new procedure may preserve fertility in kids with cancer after chemo or radiation

A 12-week-old baby female macaque, named Grady, was born from frozen testicular tissue. Oregon Health and Science University, CC BY-SACancer in children was often a death sentence in decades past, but...

Kyle Orwig, Professor of OB/GYN and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh - avatar Kyle Orwig, Professor of OB/GYN and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

March Madness: With gambling legal in eight states, who really wins?

The odds of more legal betting are good. AP Photo/John LocherMarch means springtime, but also breathless headlines of Cinderellas, busted brackets and buzzer beaters. This year, it’ll also inclu...

John Affleck, Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society, Pennsylvania State University - avatar John Affleck, Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society, Pennsylvania State University

Will more genetically engineered foods be approved under the FDA's new leadership?

Will food laws change as more GM foods are created?Zerbor/Shutterstock.comThe world of food and drug regulation was rocked earlier this month by the news of a change in leadership at the Food and Drug...

Ana Santos Rutschman, Assistant Professor of Law, Saint Louis University - avatar Ana Santos Rutschman, Assistant Professor of Law, Saint Louis University

We need more teachers of color, so why do we use tests that keep them out of the classroom?

Teacher license exams often fail to predict which teachers will be the best, research shows.michaeljung from shutterstock.comStudents of color seldom see teachers who look like them. This is because m...

Emery Petchauer, Associate Professor, Michigan State University - avatar Emery Petchauer, Associate Professor, Michigan State University

Niger has the world's highest birth rate – and that may be a recipe for unrest

While fertility levels have declined rapidly in most parts of the world, many countries in the sub-Saharan African region of the Sahel have seen their reproductive rates go down very slowly, and only ...

John F. May, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, Georgetown University - avatar John F. May, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, Georgetown University

Nuns were secluded to avoid scandals in early Christian monastic communities

Margareta, head of the women's community at Lippoldsberg (in modern-day Germany) clasps hands with an Augustinian monk as he hands her a book.Lippoldsberg Evangeliary. Kassel, Landesbibliothek, MS the...

Alison I. Beach, Associate Professor of History, The Ohio State University - avatar Alison I. Beach, Associate Professor of History, The Ohio State University

This is an edited version of Steve Hatfield-Dodds’ opening address to the Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics National Outlook Conference to be delivered on 5 March 2019.

The National Farmers Federation wants to lift the value of Australian agricultural production to $100 billion by 2030.

While that might be possible – on the current trajectory it is forecast to reach $84 billion by 2030 – we should be mindful of the substantial, and sometimes painful, reforms that have been needed to achieve the growth we have in recent decades; and that price increases accounted for 90% of that past growth.

Furthermore, the rate of productivity growth has been slowing. Key reasons include adverse shifts in climate and seasonal conditions, reduced investment in research relative to the value of production, and that fact that the easiest productivity gains have already been made.

This suggests nothing can be taken for granted.

Instead, we should recognise that achieving the best for agriculture, our rural communities and the national economy will require tough choices.

Making farming attractive to workers and investors

The sector is well aware of the need to attract workers with the right mix of skills, and is taking steps to do it. The 2018 Budget provided funds to improve our evidence base about labour force issues.

It is encouraging to see sector leaders acknowledging the need to eliminate exploitation of workers, particularly seasonal workers and other vulnerable groups, but actions are always going to speak louder than words in ensuring a positive experience for farm workers.

Investment is crucial to lifting productivity and strengthening supply chains. Unfortunately agriculture faces some headwinds in attracting investment, including high seasonal variability relative to other nations and some persistent policy uncertainty.

This makes it crucial that Australia’s foreign investment rules are applied transparently and predictably, respecting community caution that investment should deliver social and economic benefits, while maintaining Australia’s reputation as a stable and attractive investment destination.

Harnessing innovation

Australia is not immune to global shifts in research and development.

This includes slower growth in public R&D, which in the past has provided the foundation for growth in private R&D.

Our distinctive use of government and levy funded Research and Development Corporations has served us well in the past, but needs some adjustment to ensure that the resources available deliver the best possible outcomes for agriculture and the nation as a whole.

Priorities should include reducing fragmentation and improving collaboration on “whole of sector” challenges, greater clarity and consistency around contributions and benefit sharing, and achieving faster adoption and commercialisation of successful research.

Promoting resilience

Australian farmers manage very significant variability, including variability in climate and prices. Climate variability is increasing and extreme events, such as droughts and floods, are becoming more frequent and severe, impacting on output and incomes. Increased variability is also likely to contribute to more volatile global prices.

It is a good bet in these circumstances that future droughts and weather events will continue to trigger calls for government to do more to help famers. But policy makers should continue to be careful in how they respond, as poorly designed polices have the potential to slow farm adaption and structural adjustment, hurting productivity.

Australia’s national drought policy rightly establishes a clear separation between promoting proper risk management by farm businesses and providing support to farm households and communities in need.

Read more: Helping farmers in distress doesn't help them be the best: the drought relief dilemma

Eligibility criteria for the Farm Household Allowance are more generous than those that apply to income support available to other groups.

Programs such as the Farm Household Allowance, the Farm Management Deposit Scheme and tax concessions provide important relief for farm households and are consistent with Australian community values.

Overall, their current settings are unlikely to undermine resilience and drought preparedness or to have substantial adverse impact on agricultural productivity.

This is an achievement worth defending against well meaning – or occasionally self-interested – calls to blur the lines between household support and business assistance.

And we should always seek further improvements. Here the remaining policies that provide business assistance, such as concessional finance, need careful assessment.

Over time, the perceived need for such policies could be reduced by further development and uptake of market-based risk management tools, such as multi-peril crop insurance, and index-based insurance for cropping and livestock.

Persisting with water reforms

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan was inspired, in part, by the 2003 Living Murray Initiative and its vision of a “healthy working river” and in part by a reaction to the realities graphically exposed by the Millennium drought.

It was predicated on the conviction that healthy communities and regional economies required a healthy river, and that achieving it required substantial changes to water management.

These changes were twofold: promoting water trading across the basin, which allows water to move to higher value uses and altering the balance between consumptive and environmental uses to achieve healthy river ecosystems.

Read more: It's time to restore public trust in the governing of the Murray Darling Basin

This view that healthy industries require healthy catchments has not always been visible in recent debate and finger pointing, which is often framed in terms of trade-offs between “industry” or “development” versus the “environment”.

It is self evident that achieving the National Farmers Federation aspiration for agriculture will require sustainable management of scarce water resources.

Irrigated crops are one of the strongest growing agricultural sectors, with excellent future prospects. Realising the full potential of the irrigation sector will require clear and confident water policy settings which support the sector’s social licence, and avoid the uncertainty associated with acrimonious ongoing debate.

Respecting evolving consumer expectations

Staying ahead of the curve on consumer expectations sits at the heart of agriculture’s value proposition, reputation, and future growth – and can only be effectively led by industry.

Shifts in social expectations may well be both the greatest opportunity, and the greatest threat, facing Australian agriculture.

Rising real incomes allow consumers and citizens to care about issues they have previously ignored, and to express this care through their purchasing decisions and networks. These issues might be personal – such as health – or more general – such as concern for the environment or animal welfare.

Shifts in consumer sentiment can occur rapidly, and be difficult to predict. In 2016, for example, around 15% of milk consumers voted unexpectedly with their wallets by shifting from cut price $1 milk to more expensive branded milk, delivering an additional $100 million in sales revenue, in response to concerns about the plight of dairy farmers.

Read more: Low milk prices unearth the supply chain's dirty secrets

But capitalising on consumer concerns over the long term involves risks and hard work.

Back in 2003, Perth-based Austral Fisheries caused some waves when it set out to secure independent Marine Stewardship Council sustainability certification for Patagonian toothfish, as a first step in a sophisticated customer engagement strategy.

Their persistence paid off: today more than half the global catch is certified, its premium market position has been restored and prices increased by around 300%.

Some shifts will involve more threats than opportunities, at least in the absence of stronger engagement by industry. Producers are particularly exposed on environmental and animal welfare issues, where real or perceived poor behaviour by a few players can tarnish the reputation or market access of an entire sector.

Assessing these risks and opportunities requires industry to understand how consumers think and feel, even when this is confronting.

As an example, debates about land clearing can be polarising, generating more heat than light. To be hard nosed about this, however, it is in industry’s interest to consider how the economic rewards of land clearing for some graziers stack-up against the potential risks to the reputation, social licence and market position of the industry nationally, and the various ways these risks could be managed.

Focusing on the main game

Australian agriculture has many advantages, and a track record of good performance, underpinned by tough choices.

If we continue in this tradition Australian agriculture will prosper, enhancing the well-being of producers, consumers, regions, and the nation.

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/droughts-extreme-weather-and-empowered-consumers-mean-tough-choices-for-farmers-112857