A scholarship trip overseas has led one Queensland farmer to conclude that the traditional family farm set-up has to change for Australian agriculture to compete globally.
Cane farmer Joe Muscat is a Nuffield scholar and has been on a six week tour of six countries.
Mr Muscat says while Australian agriculture is up there with best practice, it’s behind in diversification compared to other countries he visited.
“What I’m seeing in Brazil is really large scale farming practices that are very well integrated.”
“As we move forward they’re certainly going to be hard to compete with.”
He says the corporate style set up of the diverse farms runs at low costs.
“They are hard to compete with when you’re looking at the size of the businesses that we operate in in a family type scenario.”
He says there’s an opportunity to merge smaller farms to operate smarter and increase the scale of the business.
Since Mr Muscat has returned he’s now starting to focus on the next part of the scholarship.
“One of my key interests is how we value add at the farm level.”
Mr Muscat says he sees a lot of potential in fibre for the sugar industry and will be studying that further next year.
“There’s nothing stopping us from looking at a high value outcome for waste streams like bagasse.”
He says while it’s already being used for energy and renewable fuel paper is a possibility, which is done successfully in Argentina.
Applications are open for 2014 Nuffield scholarship until the end of June.
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