In recent years both incomes and morale have slumped in Australian agriculture. This has happened before, and today's pessimism is just as excessive as previously. There are exaggerated fears that agriculture has no future. Equally, there are some exaggerated hopes, as to the extent to which we can rapidly and effectively restructure the economy away from agriculture, and restructure agriculture away from the "broadacre industries". The key words, with regard to the latter objective, are value added, high-tech (sunrise) and infant industries, and better marketing. By contrast, the conclusion suggested in this paper is that traditional broadacre agriculture will remain, for decades, vitally important in reducing the balance of payments deficit which is our major economic problem. Before considering these issues we should be clear about the nature of the farm problem, and this requires us to view it in an historical setting.


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