Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces – Vol. 366
Posted on: January 25th, 2018


The quote for this week’s edition is taken from a speech delivered by Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston:

“Australia is a world leader in livestock farming. […] Our livestock industries are productive, profitable, sustainable and subject to some of the highest animal health and welfare standards in the world. Our farmers are great innovators, and our livestock and livestock products are in considerable demand all over the world. […] Australia’s edge in competitiveness rests with the high quality of our livestock and livestock products, and our unrivalled biosecurity status.”

She was speaking at the 10th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture held in Berlin. Livestock was the theme of the conference. Ongoing sustainability and welfare credentials will be critical to Australia’s world-leading livestock and meat industries in the future.


“After more than a decade working in tech, Kimbal Musk (brother of Elon) decided to lean into his true passion: local food. When asked to name a big food trend looking forward into 2018, Musk said he sees millennials flocking to careers in agriculture rather than traditional office jobs.

“For the past 20 years, I think that technology has been a wonderful benefit for us in so many ways, but it’s not a very connected life. Social connectivity has really suffered because of technology. But we see urban farmers sell direct-to-consumer and be a part of their community,” he told Business Insider. “I see millennials leaving their office jobs to be in the urban farming community, because they get a connection back to their community.”

There is some data to back up Musk’s hunch. For only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers age 25 to 34 is increasing, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s latest Census of Agriculture.

Approximately 69% of these young farmers have college degrees.

As The Washington Post notes, the migration of this new generation to farms could have a wide-reaching impact on the US food system. According to the USDA census, compared to older farmers, those under age 35 are more likely to grow organically, limit their fertiliser and pesticide use, and manage plots that are less than 50 acres.””

Source: Lenna, Garfield. Business Insider. 23 January 2018.


“New uses for wool in sneakers such as Adidas AG’s marquee Ultra Boost helped drive prices to a record. They’ll only climb further this year, according to growers in the world’s biggest producer.

Prices, which jumped 30 percent last year, are on track to reach A$20 ($15.92) a kilogram after climbing to A$18.22 on Tuesday, he said. Wool closed at A$18.17 on Wednesday.

Increased affluence in traditional markets such as China and growing demand for natural fibers in athleisure wear has coupled with limited supply to create a “perfect storm” for wool, according to Australian Wool Innovation Ltd., [AWI] which represents 24,000 growers in the country that supplies about 90 percent of the world’s apparel wool.

[China] is the biggest consumer of Australian wool and accounts for about 78 percent of exports. Italy is the second-biggest buyer. European demand is heavily driven by fashion, [AWI Chief Executive Officer Stuart McCullough] said.

But it’s the U.S. where there is room for significant growth, according to McCullough. Per capita wool consumption in the U.S. is just 300 grams (11 ounces) a year – compared with about 1 kilogram in China, Europe and Canada, he said.

AWI is driving a campaign to boost use of the fiber in the U.S. with television ads planned for later this year. The campaign will target the so-called Gen Y, who have a greater interest in responsible sourcing and product life, and will focus on outdoor and leisurewear garments.

Along with Adidas, Nike Inc. and Puma SE are using wool in sneakers and clothing as more consumers seek out natural fibers over synthetic. These brands “recognize that there is a generation coming through that wants to know where it comes from and where it is going to,” he said.

Prices will be underpinned by supply constraints with production in Australia mostly stable since around 2010. Exports are forecast to gain just 4 percent to 446,000 metric tons in 2017-18, with the value to increase 20 percent to A$4.3 billion on higher prices, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.”

Source: Keenan, Rebecca. Bloomberg. 17 January 2018.


This week’s charts come from the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2017-2026 and shows the annual growth in certain food commodity groups. The graph indicates the increased demand due to population growth but also the effect of increased per capita demand. There is a prediction that the growth in demand over most of the commodities will slow for the 2017-26 period (compared to the 2007-16 period) with the major exception of fresh dairy which is anticipated to grow more rapidly over the period. This is driven primarily by demand in India where rapid population growth is anticipated.

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