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1973 Conference: Opening Address - P. A. Rickards (Mr. Rickards is Chairman of the Farm Management Section of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science, and Director of the Agricultural Business Research Institute, University of New England, N.S.W.) I feel it a great privilege to be asked to open the Second Australian Farm Business Management Congress. I am confident in predicting that most of you here will find it the most stimulating and exciting Congress you will ever attend. It is no ordinary event. It marks a major turning point in the discipline of farm business management in Australia - a turning point in which you will all participate. To appreciate this, it is necessary to look at what has happened to farm management over the last decade. Just ten years ago, a small group of professionals from the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science elected to form a Farm Management Section in which their interest could be specifically represented. In a very short time, membership grew to over 200 people. At the same time, the profession of farm management grew rapidly in every state of Australia. I will elaborate on some of those developments - the whole list is too voluminous. In the early 1960's, farm management teaching courses were introduced in most universities and agricultural colleges throughout Australia and the Foundation Chair of Farm Management was established in the University of New England in 1965. Departments of Agriculture, during the same period, made dramatic increases in the appointment of farm management economists, using the staff who were being trained at the tertiary institutions. My guess is that at the moment there would be about 60 professionally-trained farm management economists appointed in Departments of Agriculture throughout Australia. The farm management consulting profession during the same period showed outstanding growth, from one consultant in 1955 to 170 in 1969. During the same period, the Farm Management Service Laboratory was established in the University of New England and subsequently the Agricultural Business Research Institute was formed. In addition to all these things, a Farm Management Foundation was formed in Western Australia, which was involved in teaching farm management to practicing farmers. This is the type of liaison we would hope would develop in this particular Congress. In addition, there have been great developments in coordinating the interests of accountants and agricultural scientists. The national farm management accounting code (A.C.C.R.A.) was developed during the 1960's and released at a conference in Canberra in 1970. Subsequently, a Secretariat has been set up at the University of New England to supervise the adoption and implementation of the code throughout Australia. So it's easy to see that the Australian scene has certainly been a very active one and that farm management experts within Australia have made a very large impact on the management of agricultural resources. But that is not the end of the story. On the international scene, the Australian farm management expert has established himself with a magnificent reputation. Some examples of this work are provided by G. P. McGowan and Associates, who have a central office in Albury and who are currently involved in projects in Iran, Indonesia, Malaya, New Guinea, Spain and Syria. Jack Makeham, who was one of the early consultants from Victoria, is now in Iran. Hassall and Associates have a major project in Korea and other consultants are working in Hungary, Ethiopia, Zambia and South America. In addition to this, a number of Australian agricultural economists have distinguished themselves in the international field. Professor Dillon, for example, was largely responsible for designing the tertiary education courses in agricultural economics in Chile, and he is also on a consultative panel which visits Hungary six times a year. Professor Lewis, Foundation Professor in Agricultural Economics at University of New England, now holds a key position in the International Wool Secretariat in London. The two other Armidale Professors, Duloy and Parish, have held top positions in the agricultural section of the World Bank. In addition to that, Professor Gruen, who is speaking to you next, has made a major contribution to long- term agricultural projections under funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With such an impressive record of achievement, both in Australia and overseas, one may ask, what is there still to do? My answer is that the real task has only just begun. The Australian farm management expert has during the last ten years achieved what he initially sought, and that is, a true professional status and a reputation. What we now have to do is to harness this dynamic resource so that it benefits the most important sector of the farm management discipline, that is, the Australian primary producer. This can never be done while professional people continue to exclude farmers from their professional societies and while farmers do not actively encourage participation of professional people in their own societies. During the next three days, we will have an opportunity to change this, to some extent, and it is for this reason that I believe that all of you will find this Congress of extraordinary significance and a stimulating experience. During the next three days, you will be hearing a broad range of papers which cover some aspects of the farm management discipline. The speakers include academics, farmers, businessmen, journalists, consultants, and Department of Agriculture personnel. This will be the start of the freer interchange of ideas about farm management that needs to take place in Australia. Tonight, the Farm Management Section, which was established ten years ago, will hold its last meeting. In its place, we will be forming the Australian Farm Management Society, the membership of which will be open to all persons interested in farm management. A constitution for this Society has already been prepared by an interim steering committee. The inaugural meeting will be held on Thursday afternoon. I urge you to join this Society and to actively participate in its affairs. The Steering Committee has set a target of 500 members for 1973. During the next twelve months communication about the Society will be achieved through a journal which will be distributed four times a year. Forward subscriptions to the journal total $800, so the Society is off to a very good start. I trust that the Society will hold annual conferences at both a State and National level. In looking into the future, I find no words more appropriate than those of Professor John Dillon in his inaugural professorial lecture at the University of New England, where he says of farm management: "Like the gentle sex, farm management with its charms and challenges, has an assured future."
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