Newsletter of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Inc.

Volume 15, Number 3, December 2003


President’s Column

AARES 48th Annual Conference – 11-13 February 2004, Melbourne

AARES 48th Annual Conference Workshop – Water Quality

Editorship Bids for AJARE


Contact Details for Office Bearers and Central Office

Deadline and Advertising




By Bill Malcolm

‘It certainly is all happening here’ to borrow the already over-used cricketing description. Having called for expressions of interest in editorship of the AJARE over one year ago, Council and the membership are in the unique situation of having to make a choice between two candidates for the job. Fredouin Ahmadi-Esfahani, Chris Alaouze and Dodo Thampipillai (from Universities of Sydney, NSW and MacQuarie) have offered to edit the journal and Bob Lindner, Dave Pannell and Ross Kingwell from UWA have also offered to edit the Journal. To my mind in these two teams we have six potentially outstanding Journal Editors. And there’s more: each team comes with its own additional support staff of editorial associates and so on.


Council checked at its last meeting and the Constitution clearly states that the editors of the Journal are elected at the AGM. This process has never involved any more than a formal acceptance by the members at the AGM of a recommendation from the Council that whoever had been dragooned into the task be appointed. Council decided the Executive would form a view about the two bids and make a recommendation in support of one of the candidate teams to the members at the AGM. A condition of this was that the members would be provided with the detail of the bids, and the members of the Executive would canvass views far and wide from members in coming to a recommendation about the choice of editorial team. The two candidate teams of editors have been told they will get a result by the start of December.


But, there’s more. The choice is further complicated by the difference in the proposed costs of delivering the editorial services. The UWA bid comes in at around $40,000 (excluding transition costs), similar to the cost of the existing arrangement, and the Sydney bid comes in at $29,500.  However note that in each bid slightly different things are included. For instance, the UWA bid has some travel for editors to attend meetings etc and the Sydney bid does not specify this as a cost. Some of the difference in the sizes of the bids seems to come from considerable ‘under-writing’ of the Sydney bid by the University of Sydney, and the UWA bids containing some honoraria (for David Pannell who is partly self funded in his work and Ross Kingwell who will receive little support and time from his institution) that the Sydney bid does not include.  Copies of these two bids are contained in this edition of News and Views.


Yet, there’s more. In an unrelated meeting with Blackwells attended by Jeff Bennett, Mal Wegener and Bill Malcolm to commence discussion about journal profitability and profit sharing arrangement, as well as Blackwell’s indicating that they will be aiming to negotiate downwards the current share of membership revenue that goes to AARES, Blackwells also indicated that they provide a journal administration service, for a fee. This possibility is sufficiently interesting for us to find out more about it. Despite not entirely unfounded scepticism from members who have had unhappy experiences with membership administration, the notion that the journal publishers could provide this service more effectively than the way it is currently done and that is intended to be done by both editorial candidates, warrants some investigation. Thus we are pursuing this possibility also at the moment. The fact is that journal administration cost uses up most of our total membership revenue.


Regarding the 2006 International Conference of Agricultural Economics (of the IAAE) that AARES is hosting in Queensland, no contract has yet been signed. Until we have a contract that sets out clearly our obligations and potential liabilities, AARES cannot take the next steps of signing up conference organisers and so on. The Executive of Council is currently drafting an agreement to put to the IAAE which will reflect our objectives and concerns about risks and risk sharing. Unless we are particularly prudent, whilst this international conference can deliver much, it could also cost us a great deal if some things go awry. Running this conference requires sponsorship the like of which has not been common at a local level. Overall, I feel that there would be reasonably good chance of such a conference breaking even, with some small possibility of making a bit of profit for the Society, but there is a bigger chance than this that a lot of money could be lost if we don’t get the risk sharing arrangements right.


And there’s even more…The AARES Annual Conference in Melbourne in February 2004 is shaping up very well, with the organisers being swamped with submitted papers, very high calibre guest speakers lined up, and a top venue organised. This AARES conference, like those of the recent past, will be a beauty. See you there.


Finally, a long battle is over. Mike Read was a very special friend to many of us. He enriched our lives. So long Mike, it’s been good to know you.


Bill Malcolm


Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society - AARES 48th ANNUAL CONFERENCE


*** Early Bird Registration will end on the 10th December 2003 ***

The Society's 48th Conference will be held at the Sheraton Towers SouthBank, located on the Yarra River in the heart of Melbourne's entertainment, restaurant and shopping district.

The conference includes a diverse range of contributed papers (available on the conference website) and invited speakers,

The social program offers an opportunity for delegates to mingle in a relaxed atmosphere while enjoying views of the Melbourne Skyline from the 28th floor of the Towers, and to enjoy one of Melbourne's newest attractions, the Melbourne Aquarium.

In addition to the main conference program, a Pre-conference Workshop on Water Policy will be held on the 10th February. The aims of the workshop are to: Critically appraise current and proposed government water policy initiatives, identify priorities for future information collection and research, and help in developing policy and its implementation. Speakers include high level representatives from government agencies and leading researchers currently contributing to water policy reform in Australia. The workshop offers an insight to current economic thought and its application to water and the environment.


We look forward to seeing you in Melbourne in February.





Was your shower under four minutes? Did you brush with the tap off? (Questions on Melbourne Billboards)


There is now considerable competition between water for irrigation and water for environmental purposes. This is not just competition for water; it is a competition of ideas and interests. There have always been major questions about the efficiency of water use in irrigation. These questions are not diminished by the growing demands for water in the competing use of providing environmental goods and services, and a growing recognition of potential negative externalities associated with water harvesting, storage, distribution and use.


The contemporary role of government in dealing with the environmental consequences of irrigation is perhaps as problematic as the role of government in the creation of irrigation schemes. The focus of political interest in irrigation has shifted one hundred and eighty degrees with increased emphasis on water quality and other environmental aspects of irrigation. The environmental problems of the Murray-Darling basin have become the subject of frequent newspaper comment and urban discourse. There is little doubt that that the development ethos that sustained past political support for irrigation has passed into history.


Debate over irrigation and the environment usually concentrate on the extent to which water supplies are over-allocated, the environmental impacts of supplying and using irrigation water, and the potential impacts of water trade. Questions arising out of these debates include the extent to which past environmental damage can or should be reversed and whether environmental flows (or other measures) can address the broad range of river health problems. Increasing focus is being placed on efficient methods of recovering water for the environment, including through water savings or by establishing an environmental manager which would operate in the water market to maximise environmental benefits. Another key question is the extent to which water markets will change patterns of water use, and the consequences for regional communities and the environment. How these issues, and differences between states in respect to property rights and trade, will be reflected in the brave new world of State and Commonwealth cooperation on water reform policy is widely anticipated.


These are but just a few of the issues to be explored in the water policy workshop held in Melbourne prior to the AARES 2004 Conference. The workshop offers a unique opportunity to gain insight into the current state of play of government policy on water, how both economics and science are influencing reform initiatives, how these reforms may trigger changes in behaviour and what are the priorities for future economic research. Details of the workshop program can be found at:




Editorship Bids for AJARE

by Bill Malcolm, Lisa Brennan, Mal Wegener, Liz Peterson and John Mullen


A Request to Members to Study the Two Bids for Editorship of the AJARE and Provide Feedback on These Bids to Members of the Executive


As noted earlier in News and Views, the Executive of AARES Council have to make a recommendation to Council and to Members at the AGM as to which of these two bids is the preferred option to be the editorial team of the AJARE for the next three year term. Members of the executive would appreciate hearing from members about this choice.


Specifically, we would appreciate any advice from members about:


Please give us your feedback on the bids by December 10.


Bill Malcolm (ph. 0428 499266, 03 83445015), b.malcolm

Liz Peterson (ph. 08 9332 8310) Liz.Peterson

John Mullen (ph. 02 6391 3608) john.mullen,

Mal Wegener (ph. 07 3365 2939) malcolm.wegener

Lisa Brennan (ph.07 3214 2375) lisa.Brennan


The two editorship bids can be accessed by clicking here: NSW bidWA bid.





Obituary – Mike Read (1952-2003)

by Julian Alston


Mike Read was a good friend to many people, and I was privileged to be one of them.  When I first met Mike in 1971 we were both first-year Agricultural Science students at the University of Melbourne.  For most first-year students, Agricultural Science, along with the attendant social activities, was a full-time job.  But in those days Mike was a very active opponent of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War and conscription – sufficiently so to be of interest to the federal police.  Even then, in his late teens, Mike showed the strength of character, adherence to principle, and determination to act according to his beliefs that characterised his later professional life. 


After the election of the Whitlam government, at the end of 1972, and Australia’s withdrawal from Vietnam, Mike adopted a more typical student lifestyle.  In 1974 he was one of four fourth-year students who opted to specialise in agricultural economics in the first year that the option was offered, and he stood out as the most able in that group. This was a good time for agricultural economics in Australia and at the University of Melbourne.  Among our teachers at the time were Alan Lloyd, Geoff Edwards, Neil Sturgess, and Alistair Watson, and it was a special experience as undergraduates to be able to interact with them in the ways we did, forging enduring relationships.  This was particularly true for Mike.  After a short period in the latter 1970s as a public servant in the Victorian government’s State Rivers and Water Supply Commission, and then as a farm-management consultant with Jim McColl and Associates, Mike returned to the University and wrote a Master’s thesis, supervised by Al and Neil.  Subsequently he worked with Alan on the Victorian government’s Rural Economics Study, and eventually included Neil in his consulting business, which became Read Sturgess and Associates.


Mike’s career as a private consultant began around 1980.  His first major contract was with the Victorian grain growers’ organisation in early work on the economics of grain handling, storage and transport, and he subsequently refined this in separate studies for the Royal Commission on Grain Handling, Storage and Transport, and the Rural Economics Study.  Over the next 20 years or so, Mike worked on a broad range of issues in agricultural and resource economics, and beyond.  For instance, he worked for the meatworkers’ union on the live sheep dispute and the intricacies of their wages and award conditions, as well as for the Victorian Egg Marketing Board on the demand for eggs, and for the Victorian government on town water pricing, among a host of other projects. 


The highpoint of Mike’s career was as principal of his business, Read Sturgess and Associates.  With Neil, Jane Branson and others, Mike undertook a series of projects concentrating on environmental and resource economics, including issues like irrigation management, the pricing of state and national parks, water pricing, and salinity.  Mike was ahead of his time in recognising that environmental values are of little account without empiricism, analysis, and the search for practical policy solutions, and he was an early contributor of good sense and sound economic analysis to a range of public policy problems concerning natural resources and the environment.  Immediately following the diagnosis of his illness he still managed to complete his perceptive work on dryland salinity for the National Land and Water Resources Audit.


Mike had intelligence and integrity.  His private commitment to just causes was matched only by his public commitment to good economics.  His approach was to keep the analysis clean so that policymakers could make decisions on the basis of accurate information and, reflecting this, some time in the 1980s Al Watson aptly christened Mike “the kosher consultant.”  A key to Mike’s success in consulting was his ability to empathise with diverse people and get them to tell him things because he won their trust, partly because he himself was transparently open and honest and rigorous in thinking.


Mike Read's life was filled with conviction and commitment, friends and family, compassion and courage.  Mike’s love of the bush was profound and his country retreat was his haven. He was also a true adventurer, with a deeply spiritual side.  A sociable person, Mike also had the strength to stand on his own.  Nowhere was that more demonstrated than in his humble stoic courage in the face of his long and cruel illness.  His colleagues and friends will remember Mike with affection and a sense of loss.  His spirit in his illness has been inspirational. Our thoughts are with Mike’s widow, Jo, and his young sons Sean and Leigh, to whom he was a devoted father.



Connections Spring 2003

In this edition of Connections a couple of classic economic themes predominate – some authors are concerned about there being ‘too much’ of something, others are concerned about there being ‘too little’ of something else.

Phil Simmons and Phil Hanson write about market power in the wool industry, while Glenn Ronan and Greg Cox deal with market power in the SA chicken meat industry - whether there is too much or too little, and what to do about it? Jason Crean is interested in whether there may be too little environment: Jim Moll, Jim Crosthwaite and Josh Dorrough are concerned about the possibility of too little biodiversity on grazing properties in Victoria and C. Ford Runge, Benjamin Seraver, Phil Pardey and Mark Rosegrant look at concerns that there may always be ‘too little’ food in the world. Zhang Yue Zhou explores the question of whether China will grow too little or too much feed grain. And, Barry White whimsically revisits the state of having too little water, and having to pay too often for it, in a Letter to the Australian People, published recently in the Australian Newspaper.

As former liberal leader of the opposition the Right Honourable Billy Sneddon once proclaimed, in a profound, desk-thumping statesperson like way, ‘there comes a time when enough’s enough and too much is plenty!’ Hear Hear.

Please enjoy the following diverse contributions from a diverse stable of writers.

Bill Malcolm and Glenn Ronan


Agri-environmental conservation – the case for an environmental levy  by Jason Crean

Ending hunger by C. Ford Runge, Benjamin Senauer, Philip G. Pardey, and Mark W. Rosegrant 

South Australia’s new chicken meat industry legislation: a balancing act by Glenn Ronan and Greg Cox 

Will China become a large feed grain importer? by Zhang-Yue Zhou 

Better management of wool businesses and biodiversity by Jim Moll, Jim Crosthwaite and Josh Dorrough 

Does market power matter in the wool buying industry? by Phil Simmons and Phil Hanson

Wasting water, wasting words? by Barry White



Thank You from 'Heading North' Winner

by John Gibson


I would like to thank the Association for the privilege of being able to attend the Annual Conference of the American Agricultural Economics Association in Montreal, as the winner of the 'Heading North' award. This was an outstanding professional opportunity and I would encourage all younger members of the Association to consider applying for this opportunity in the future.


In addition to the contributed paper that I submitted for the award, I also presented a poster (with colleagues from ANU) and took part in an organised session (along with my PhD supervisor, Scott Rozelle, and one of my own students who is just beginning a PhD at UC Davis, Susan Olivia). I found the poster session at the conference especially interesting and I was amazed at the enormous effort that people had made to turn good economic analysis into outstanding visual displays. It was especially thrilling in the face of such competition for our poster to be judged as a finalist for the awards.


Unfortunately my wife had a medical emergency during the conference and had to spend two nights in McGill University Hospital in Montreal. This greatly restricted my social activities and sadly I was unable to attend the dinner put on by the North American branch. I do hope that in my other activities I was a good ambassador for the Association.



Final Notice – Heading North AARES-AAEA Young Professionals Exchange Travel Award


The Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (AARES) and the Foundation of the American Agricultural Economics Association (AAEA) will again jointly offer two travel awards during 2003.  These awards are intended for agricultural and resource economists of all ages but in the early stages of their careers. Thus stage of career rather than age is what defines an appropriate applicant. The objectives of the awards are to provide the winners with an opportunity for professional and personal development and international professional and cultural exchange.  Each award will have a value of US$2,000 to be used to assist the winner to participate in the annual conference of either the AARES or the AAEA.  Applicants for both awards must be members of both the AARES and the AAEA.


The “Heading North” award will be given to members normally resident in Australia or New Zealand to support their participation in the August 2004 annual conference of the AAEA in Denver, Colorado. This award is valued at US$2,000 cash. Members meeting the stated criteria are now invited to apply for the “Heading North” award. 


Applications should include:


The winner of the award will be determined by a committee, based on the submitted materials, with some emphasis on the quality of the paper.


Electronic submissions (preferably in PDF form) should be e-mailed to Garry Griffith (garry.griffith).  Applications must be received by December 19, 2003, and the winner will be announced at the AARES 2004 conference in Melbourne.  Please address any questions about the application process to Garry Griffith at the above address or by phone on 02 6770 1826.




AARES 6th Annual National Symposium 2003 - Market-Based Tools for Environmental Management


The AARES 6th Annual National Symposium was held 2nd and 3rd September 2003 at CSIRO Discovery Centre, Canberra.  The symposium was designed to attract a diverse range of professional and academic economists, regional, state and national policymakers and those in the wider community with an interest in applying these tools to natural resource management.  189 delegates attended the symposium from a wide range of backgrounds and organisations including key central Commonwealth agencies such as ‘Prime Minister and Cabinet’ and ‘Treasury’; State Government agencies; catchment management bodies and academics.  Many of the State representatives were from regional areas that could also be termed ‘on-ground’.  The Symposium Organising Committee comprising Stuart Whitten (CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems), Marc Carter (Environment Australia), and Gary Stoneham (Department of Primary Industries, Vic.) estimate overall attendance as 1/3 policy, 1/3 research and 1/3 implementation.  Invited speaker papers are currently available at:

It should be noted that this is not a permanent website.  The core symposium site will be transferred to later this year and papers will become available via the RIRDC published proceedings.



4th International Crop Science Congress (4ICSC)

4ICSC is incorporating the 5th Asian Crop Science Congress (5ACSC) and the 12th Australian Agronomy Conference (12AAC) from Sunday 26 September to Friday 1 October 2004 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Queensland, Australia.  The deadline for Poster Paper Submissions is 27 February 2004 - submissions are invited from all areas of crop science. For further information about the Congress contact: Intermedia Convention and Event Management, Phone 07 3858 5554, Fax 07 3858 5510, email  4icsc04, or go to the website



Release of new version of GPDP
by John Kennedy

The Windows version of GPDP (General Purpose Dynamic Programming) software was released at a workshop preceding the AARES 2000 Conference at Sydney University. Since then it has been available for download from the internet. The access record shows that the download site has been visited about 450 times from Australia and New Zealand, and from many other countries.  A new version of the routines (Version will be released on my website given below on 1 December 2003. Besides many minor changes, the main changes are:

The GPDPdata.xls workbook can be used to write the GPDP data file for a problem. For small problems the data are entered manually on a generated template form, tailored to the type and dimensions of the problem. For larger problems routines in a Visual Basic macro are written to generate the data.

Example problem .dat files for many of the expository problems used in the DP book (Kennedy 1986) are available for download for solution by GPDP, and routines for writing the problem .dat files are featured in the GPDPdata Excel workbook as examples. The DP book itself can be downloaded from my website, either as a whole or by chapter:


John Kennedy will be attending the AARES 2004 Conference at Melbourne University. If enough people let John know of their interest in seeing a short demonstration of the software it would probably be possible to arrange this. In any case, John is happy to discuss GPDP at the Conference with anyone who has queries.  For further details contact John Kennedy, Reader and Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Finance, School of Business, La Trobe University, BUNDOORA  VIC  3083, phone 03 9479 2313, fax 03 9479 1654, j.kennedy or see


AgEcon Search


AgEcon Search (, the free Web resource that contains the full text of working papers, conference papers, and articles from regional journals in the areas of aricultural, applied and resource economics, is expanding to include more material from all regions of the world.  Papers, now numbering over 11,000, are available from 73 universities, government agencies and professional organizations on 6 continents. Recent additions include papers from the 2003 International Association of Agricultural Economists in Durban, South Africa and various materials from the Western Agricultural Economics Association (USA).  If your organization would like to contribute materials, please contact:  Louise Letnes, Project Co-coordinator, Waite Library, Dept. of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, lletnes.  There is no charge for contributing working papers.  Conference papers and journals have variable charges depending on the method of submission and format of the papers.  To sign up for a weekly e-mail that lists recent additions to Ag Econ Search, please e-mail Louise Letnes at the address listed above.



Call for Papers - Economic Education Conference

What We Teach and How We Teach It: Perspectives on Economics from Around the Globe




The Economic Education Conference will be held 13-16 July 2004 at University of South Australia, and is presented by The Centre for Applied Economics, Adelaide, Australia. This conference will focus attention on the teaching of economics at the tertiary level around the world (including US/Canada/Mexico, Europe/Russia, Asian countries, Australia/New Zealand).  Ideas presented will be shared in three ways - presentations at the conference, selected publications in The Journal of Economic Education (both hard copy and web), and a proceedings volume.


The Conference organisers call for papers in all areas of tertiary economic education.  Conference attendees are invited to submit original papers for presentation in the concurrent sessions.  Abstracts of no more than 300 words are due by 27 February 2004, and should be submitted in Microsoft Word  format, 12 pt. Times-New Roman, double-spaced.  Submissions should include (i) the author’s name, affiliation and email address, (ii) title, and (iii) statements of the paper’s goals, methodology, significance and results.  Authors of accepted papers will be notified by 30 March 2004.  Conference proceedings will appear on the SSRN network. Submit abstracts to kellie.wright.  Direct general enquiries to ecoed.  Further details about the conference and the requirements for papers are available from






Bill Malcolm 
Phone: (03) 8344 5015
Fax: (03) 8344 4095
Email: b.malcolm


Liz Petersen
Phone/Fax: (08) 9330 2092
Email: Liz.Petersen


Mal Wegener 
Phone: (07) 3365 2939 
Fax: (07) 3365 9016 
Email: malcolm.wegener

Manager: Promotion and Development 

Lisa Brennan
Phone: (07) 3214 2375 
Fax: (07) 3214 2308
Email: Lisa.Brennan

Web Manager

Atakelty Hailu

Phone: (08) 9380 2538
Fax: (08) 9380 1098

Editor: AARES News & Views

Tracy Henderson
Phone: (07) 3210 0495
Fax: (07) 3210 0506
Email: thenderson

Editors: AJARE

Chris O’Donnell
Phone: (02) 6773 2815
Fax: (02) 6773 3607
Email: codonnel

John Mullen
Phone: (02) 6391 3608
Fax: (02) 6391 3650 
Email: john.mullen

Manager: AARES Central Office 

Honey Greenwood
School of Economics
Armidale NSW 2351
Phone: (02) 6773 3278
Fax: (02) 6773 3607
Email: journal.ajare



The deadline for receipt of any items for inclusion in the next edition of AARES News & Views is Friday 12 March 2004. Please send items to Honey Greenwood at the Central Office: journal.ajare.


Advertisements in AARES News and Views are welcomed. Mailing list exceeds 700. Advertising cost is $250 (including GST). Enquiries to Lisa.Brennan.