the trends with small business and on the farm

Wishing to better understand the trends with small business and on the farm, Caring for our Country demonstrates it continues to actively solicit what is happening and is active in keeping our interest. The following is a part of the outreach activity known as BizQuotes and what follows is part of some of information from that unit:

Australian small businesses are among the least optimistic in the Asia-Pacific region – research by accounting firm, CPA Australia, found 60% of Australian companies expect to grow their business in 2013 – Indonesia was leading the way, with 94% of firms expecting their businesses to grow – 14% of the Australian businesses increased their staff numbers in 2012, compared with 61% in Indonesia – 47% of the Australian firms were forced to use a personal credit card to pay for business activities, compared with only 12% – Source: Indonesia Herald Sun 11 Dec 2012.

Recently a group of criminal hackers was successful in 93% of its attempts overseas to infect personal computers – they froze 18,941 PCs with a message demanding over $100 to unlock them – 15% of the victims paid – the group took about $400,000 in the day – even when payment was made, the hackers didn’t unlock the computers. Source: HBR 11 Nov 2012.

Australia is a nation of entrepreneurs, with 1 actively trading business for every 10 people – but small businesses are growing more than 3 times slower than the economy – almost 40% have collapsed in the last 4 years. Source: SmartCompany 13 Dec 2012.

This year’s Australian Innovation System Report suggests innovative firms of all sizes are almost twice as likely to report an increase in productivity compared to those that do not innovate – innovative firms are also 42% more likely to increase profitability, 3 times more likely to export, and 4 times more likely to increase the range of goods or services offered. But the percentage of Australian businesses seeking finance for innovation has declined by 40% since 2006-07 – venture capital and later-stage private equity investment has also declined substantially over the same period. Sourced: SmartCompany 12 Dec 2012.

The ageing agrifood workforce of 880,000 people involved in 180,000 small to medium-sized enterprises also has the potential to benefit from rapid innovations in remote access technology with 57% living in rural areas. Source: SmartCompany 12 Dec 2012.

The Australian wine industry exports around 65% of its production worth about $1.9 billion. Source: PSNews 11 Dec 2012.

Tourism contributed nearly $34 billion (nearly 10% of total export earnings) to Australia’s GDP – it directly employs over 500,000 people. Source: PSNews 11 Dec 2012.

There are 157,000 farmers in Australia – nearly 300 farmers have left the land each month over the past 30 years, partly because young people have been reluctant to take over the family farm – farmer numbers have shrunk by 40% (by 106,000). Source: The Australian and AFR 12 Dec 2012.

But the smaller number of farmers who remain produce $32.5 billion in food exports today compared to $8.2 billion 30 years ago – the proportion that have a university education has increased by 600% since 1981. Source: The Australian 12 Dec 2012.

More than 25% of farmers are older than 65 compared with 3% in other occupations – the median age is 53, compared with 40 for other occupations – and the farmer age of 44 in 1981. Source: The Australian and AFR 12 Dec 2012.

More than 50% of farmers work for more than 49 hours per week compared with only 17% of people in other occupations – but farmers only earn an average disposable income of $568 a week, nearly 40% less than the average of all other jobs. Source: The Australian and AFR 12 Dec 2012.

55% of agricultural operations are estimated to turn over less than $100,000 a year – only 6% have operations turn over more than $1 million. Source: The Australian and AFR 12 Dec 2012.

Over the past 50 years improved farming techniques and technologies have helped to significantly increase crop yields along with a 12% expansion of farmed land use – however, with global food production already uses nearly half of the usable land surface, a further increase in land surface may severely impact on the world’s natural ecosystems. The challenge is that an increase in animal-based production will require much greater land – 1 hectare of land can produce enough rice or potatoes to feed 19-22 people per annum – the same area will only produce enough lamb or beef for 1 or 2 people. Source: The Institution of Mechanical Engineers – Jan 2013.

An average of 7-10 calories of energy input is required to produce 1 calorie of food – varying from 3 calories for plant crops to 35 calories for the production of beef. 78% of the world’s agricultural land is already used for animal production and meat consumption is rising per person in many developing nations – only about 3% of the energy consumed by livestock remains in edible animal tissue. Source: The Institution of Mechanical Engineers – Jan 2013.

For every cubic metre of water applied the potato produces 5.60kcal of dietary energy – maize 3.86kcal – wheat 2.3 kcal – rice only 2 kcal. For the same cubic metre of water, the potato yields 150g of protein (double that of wheat and maize) and 540 mg of calcium (double that of wheat and four times that of rice) – overall, 2 kcal is produced per cubic metres of water used on plant-based food and 0.25kcal is produced for meat-based food. About 40% of the world’s food is produced on irrigated land – taking up 17% of agricultural land. A study in the USA on the amount of water used in processing vegetables found that it ranged from 13 – 64 tonnes of water for each tonne of vegetables – in the case of fruits it ranged from 3.5 – 32 tonnes of water. Source: The Institution of Mechanical Engineers – Jan 2013.

Many thanks to Garry Reynolds of Caring for Our Country in Canberra for providing the sourced material

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