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Charles Sturt University (2014)

Transformative change in contemporary Australian agriculture

Sinclair Katrina

Titre : Transformative change in contemporary Australian agriculture

Auteur : Sinclair Katrina

Université de soutenance : Charles Sturt University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2014

Agriculture in developed countries is facing significant challenges including providing sufficient food to feed an increasing global population, the uncertainty surrounding the impact of climate change and the reduced access to, and degradation of, the resource base supporting agriculture. In meeting these pressing challenges it may be necessary, in some cases, to implement a deliberate transformative change for sustainability. However, the pathway required to enable agricultural industries and their producers in developed countries to successfully undertake a deliberate transformative change is not understood.
This thesis contributes to an understanding of the processes and outcomes from a transformative change by exploring the deliberate attempt by governments to restructure the Australian dairy industry with the intention of creating a more efficient, competitive and productive industry. Two regional dairy industries, the Subtropical industry located along the east coast of northern Australia and the Murray industry located along the Murray River in southern Australia, identified as social-ecological systems were chosen as embedded cases to explore the nature and extent of the changes that took place in these dairy industries following deregulation of the Australian dairy market. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with dairy producers, their service providers, and industry and government staff in the Subtropical and Murray industries. The interview transcription data was organised around codes identifying the nature and extent of the changes in the two dairy industries following deregulation as well as emerging themes such as power and social relationships. The data analysis was also used to explore the usefulness of resilience thinking transition conceptual frameworks as lenses to understand the processes and outcomes of change that these dairy industries experienced post-deregulation.
This research established that the Subtropical dairy industry experienced profound change following deregulation. The social and power relationships between actors were substantially altered, and the structure and practices of the industry’s components : the production system, supply chain, industry organisation and the provision of services are considerably different. As a result of the nature and extent of these changes the Subtropical industry is fundamentally different in the way it functions. It has a new identity based on different assumptions which suggests that this industry has been transformed. Post-deregulation, the Murray industry also experienced change although this is attributed to a large extent to its need to respond to an unexpected and severe but temporary loss in access to water associated with the Millennium drought. With the breaking of the drought the Murray industry appears to have reverted back to many of its pre-deregulation structures and management practices, and to continue the existing social relationships between actors.


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