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Structural adjustment and regional relocation in the Tasmanian hop industry

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thesis
posted on 2023-05-26, 18:09 authored by Miller, CL
The uniqueness of the agricultural pursuit of hop growing lies in its very high input costs and related agglomerative tendencies; the interest for this study lies in the predictable fluctuations in the area planted to the crop, deriving as they do from a complex of market-related and industry-behaviour considerations. Physical requirements for the crop are relatively narrow, but more important causes of local specialization have traditionally derived from the industrial use of the crop and the centralizing of certain processing facilities, particularly as these affect smaller producers. The attraction of the perennial crop for producers of even a hectare or less derives from the prospect of highly profitable returns; a prospect frequently not fulfilled. The hop plant, Humulus lupulus, has earned its reputation as a gambler's crop; the balance between fixed input costs, variable yields and prices for the commodity periodically has favoured costs over returns, leading to cyclical changes in total planted area and in the number of hop growers._ The spatial expression of such fluctuations is seen in the emergence of a core area of production within which land-use intensity for the crop has remained relatively unchanged for over a century. Beyond the core, the extensive margins of production exhibit cyclical expansion and contraction, at times including localities as widely spaced as Flinders Island and Strahan; but the forces leading to concentration and specialization within the industry have tended to confine production increasingly to the Derwent Valley and minor localities in the south of the state until the last two decades. Since 1960, a major new production region has emerged in the north-east of the state, reflecting changed economies of scale brought about by improved hop varieties and technological developments. The new hops have higher brewing value, thereby reducing the relative demand from brewers; smaller, more traditional growers in the south of the state have not been able to compete with the lower unit production costs of larger growers and have ceased production almost entirely. The central argument of the thesis is that the industry approach, particularly involving detailed study of production on individual farms, is a valuable contribution towards the understanding of patterns of agricultural land use as a whole. The study examines the industry in its historical and contemporary contexts and demonstrates the interrelatedness of physical and economic constraints to production. It considers the nature of political and behavioural influences and their respective impact on the spatial arrangement of the industry.

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ePrints Copyright 1980 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1980. Bibliography: p. 249-258

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