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Diversification in the sugar industry : the growers' perspective in Central Queensland, Australia
The future viability of the sugar industry has been questioned in several major reports. It is generally agreed that the industry will have to undergo some changes. One of the key issues in the most comprehensive of these reports, the Hildebrand report (Hildebrand 2002), is the need to improve economic efficiency in the industry. At the grower level, the report considers many farms to be economically unviable and advocates the need to increase farm size to achieve better economies of scale. Some growers will not be able to expand and a more viable economic option might be to diversify farm enterprise income. Generally, the main advice farmers receive about alternative crops is based on gross margins, but there are other components of crop diversification which may influence growers’ decisions, eg, changes in management effort required or changes in the level of risk associated with a new crop. This paper outlines a study that used the Choice Modelling technique to explore the trade-offs growers make between different components of diversification, when deciding on possible diversification options.The influence of socio-economic characteristics on choice is also explored.