Agricultural revolution

Nationals Senator Ron Boswell recently dissed CSIRO for cutting funding to rural industry research by 5%.

(On a petty note, I’m wondering what the difference between the “livestock and wool industry”. Aren’t sheep livestock? But that’s not really the point…)

I agree with him that there should be more research funding, not less, dedicated to renewable resources. But I feel it’s a little incongruous to call for more research into agriculture as it currently exists in Australia at the same time as preaching about renewable resources. There aren’t many crops in Australia that are actually suitable to our arid climate. Cattle and sheep die in the drought; farms require subsidies for water and nitrogen and phosphate fertilisers to be economically viable; and many crops grown in Australia (such as cotton and rice) are extremely water-thirsty.

As mentioned in a post last year, Professor Michael Archer (Dean of Science, UNSW) is a fan of harnessing native flora and fauna for economic gain, rather than continuing to pound our unique environment with European crops. He goes into great detail in his book Going Native (co-written with Bob Beale, ISBN 0733615228). From kangaroo meat (despite some unresolved issues) to native grains as crops (kurrajong and several wattle species are just a few examples), agriculture in Australia needs to change.

So maybe Boswell is right and agriculture does need more research funding. It just shouldn’t focus on maintaining the status quo — we need an agricultural revolution.

3 thoughts on “Agricultural revolution

  1. Boswell is justified in calling for increased spending on research into improving agriculture. And when you realise the profound connection between agriculture and human needs for food and clothing, it’s not surprising.

    In his own words, ““It is the correct role of Government for its scientists to be involved in rural research. Australian Primary producers don’t have the resources to fund research into sustainability, but are constantly being asked by Government to be, and to prove that they are, sustainable.”

    “When Australia is on the verge of breaking into a new renewable fuels industry with the support of Government, it also seems that the Government-funded scientific arm, the CSIRO, has made a decision not to focus on research projects that support renewable fuels like ethanol,” he said.

  2. “Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, Ron Boswell, issued a warning today against a CSIRO plan to reduce funding to rural research and direct research focus away from programs promoting renewable fuels”. (

    He is calling for sustainability, the holy grail, of greenism. Good on him too!

  3. All the things he’s saying are quite fair and worthwhile, but I’m just not sure if they’re enough. Can the wool industry really ever become sustainable? Or should it really be replaced with something that is?