It has been some time since you last had a Rural Review, this was due in part to our regular editor, Pieter Conradie, finding himself in a new role as the Liaison Officer for the Department of Primary Industry and Resources in Minister Vowles’ office in Parliament House. We wish Pieter all the best for his role in Darwin, I know that he is probably enjoying the sight of the sea every day!

With Pieter gone, I have landed with the job of Editor of this esteemed publication, as well as an expanded role beyond horticultural development and into other fields like cattle and mining. This is not too foreign for me, as I grew up on a farm that grew apples, sheep and Angus cattle. And I liked rocks.

The technology used for farming and cattle production is so much more complex now than was the case in the 1980s when I was on the farm. The work that is gone into sustainable and profitable cattle production in the arid zones of the world is amazing, and I have been impressed with the willingness of Central Australian cattle producers to embrace objective and scientific approaches to decisions like stocking rates, to look after their country as well as providing a living to their families.

Adoption of new technology and strong markets all point to exciting times for agricultural industries in Central Australia. The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator shows that cattle prices are still above their 5 year average, although they have softened. The demand for table grapes is high in Australia and export markets, leading to more plantings in Central Australia. And the water allocation planning work for Ti Tree and Western Davenport Water Control Districts is moving toward a conclusion at the end of 2017 to give some certainty for ongoing investment in the region.

Also, the department is updating its strategic plan. The changes we make will be designed to serve you, our stakeholders, better.


Stuart Smith
Department of Primary Industry and Resources

Last updated: 07 August 2019

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