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Abstract

Developing a sustainable and resilient agribusiness sector is fundamental if Australia is to capture the value of the opportunity presented the by the growing food and fibre needs of a global population expected to reach 9.8bn by 2050 and 11bn by 2100. Key threats in the Australian context are an increasingly dynamic climate, changing demographics of regional Australia, economic factors related to currency fluctuations and the reality of being a price taker in a global market. While the current policy environment provides a number of mechanisms to support agribusinesses in mitigating these threats (including research and development investment, infrastructure investment, action to increases access to and competitiveness of markets as well as a suite of agricultural welfare options), it does not contemplate the relative readiness of individuals and businesses to act on the interventions of government. This paper proposes the adoption of the capabilities approach (CA) to refocus the policy framework and environment to prioritise the delivery of outcomes that are valued by individuals and businesses. A conceptual model is proposed to support the development, design and evaluation of future agribusiness policy. Fundamental to the conceptual model is the recognition of the central focus on the achievement of outcomes valued by agribusinesses, when considered within the constraints of the resource base, the capabilities of agribusiness owners to achieve the valued outcomes as well as the external factors required to aid in the conversion of the resources to valued outcomes.

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