PositionFull NameMailing AddressEmail
PresidentProf. A Derek BakerUNE Business School
President ElectStuart MounterPO Box 4075
Armidale, NSW 2350
TreasurerProf. Renato Andrin VillanoUNE Business School
Armidale, NSW 2351
SecretaryDavid HadleyUNE Business School
Armidale, NSW 2351
CommitteeDr Garry GriffithSchool of Business Economics And Public
CommitteeDr Robyn HeanNSW DPI Livestock Industries Centre
JSF Barker Building, Trevenna Road
CommitteeProf. Oscar CachoUNE Business School
CommitteeDr David GoddenPO Box 1528
Branch CouncillorDr Luis Emilio MoralesUNE Business School

New England Branch

Scott Hansen (Director General NSW DPI) to present Jack Makeham Memorial Lecture co-hosted by AARES New England Branch and UNE Business School – 16 October 2017, 2:30pm to 4:00pm Further details are at:

Details of past Branch seminars can be viewed here.

Seminar Program 2017

The UNEBS R&RT Committee and the AARES New England Branch cordially invite you to Associate Professor Mariah Ehmke’s seminar. The session will be held on Wednesday 31st May in Lecture Theatre 2, W40 in EBL Building at 11:00AM. An informal catering will be offered before and after the seminar.

Associate Professor Mariah Ehmke

University of Wyoming

Seminar Title: “Exploring Detection and Deterrence to Prevent Food Fraud in International Markets”


Food fraud or the illegal deception for economic gain in food production and marketing has substantial food safety, health and economic implications for food markets. When food fraud occurs in international trade, outside of nation-state jurisdictions, its detection and deterrence are especially difficult. Many recent cases of food fraud demonstrate the difficulty in detecting food fraud occurrence in international supply chains (e.g., dairy in China honey in the EU and US, and olive oil in Italy). While the actual act may only involve a few agents in the supply chain, the effects can be devastating for markets and industries.  The objective of this research is to explore economic and statistical methods to detect food fraud in international markets. This information will then inform economic behavioural approaches to deter food fraud within industries and food supply chains. The results may inform food policy, for both agricultural exporting and importing countries.

Mariah Ehmke is Associate Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wyoming. Mariah holds a Doctorate of Philosophy from Purdue University, Masters from The Ohio State University, and Bachelors of Science from Kansas State University. In 2015-16, she was a visiting Senior Lecturer to the University of Otago (New Zealand). Her research focuses on issues at the nexus of food, health, and environment. She specializes research methodologies using consumer and behavioural economics, experimental economics, and survey methods.  Current research projects include household economic models incorporating behavioural economics into child health production, an investigation of beekeeper cost structure in pollination markets, economic experiments to improve pollinator conservation, and food fraud in international markets.


Presenter:  Dr John Dixon
Date:           Friday 12th May from 1- 3 PM
Venue:        UNEBS, Lecture Theater 4
Title:           John Dillon Memorial Lecture: Sustainable Intensification: Future opportunities and constraints

This year's John Dillon Memorial Lecture was presented by Dr John Dixon, the Principal Advisor/Research Program Manager for the Cropping Systems and Economics program with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. John has over 30 years of experience in agricultural research and development. For more information about him, see Notably, John is a graduate of UNE with a PhD (agricultural economics), Masters (natural resources), Masters (economics) and Bachelor in Rural Science.


Increased demand for food as populations grow has caused increased competition for land and water in food production. During the past Century much intensification of agriculture has damaged the natural resource base, reducing soil carbon, depleting aquifers and reducing biodiversity – thus reducing land productivity and increasing the pressure for clearing additional land. This problem is especially severe in some developing countries.

Foresight studies suggest that these pressures will intensify during the coming decades, especially in uncertain climatic and political environments. Global leaders face a major challenge of feeding some 9 billion or more people on a shrinking natural resource base.

Sustainable intensification (SI) is one response that is gaining increasing attention in national and international research systems.  SI consists of increasing food production from existing farmland in ways that place less pressure on the environment and avoid land degradation. Although current technologies offer many good opportunities, there remain many challenges and constraints to the widespread adoption and effectiveness of SI.  Further, there are questions whether national and international research systems will continue to generate the required technologies and policy makers will establish effective enabling institutions and policies.

This lecture will present an overview of these opportunities and constraints with particular reference to developing countries. Some of the key issues to be discussed include: better integration of farm-level data in the analysis of national and international policies; the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration; and the role of institutions and innovation systems.

The recordings of this session is available at:

The John Dillon Memorial Lecture is co-hosted by the Australasian Agricultural & Resource Economics Society (New England Branch) and the UNE Business School.

John Dillon (1931-2001) was the quintessential scholar. At the age of 33, John was appointed Foundation Professor of Farm Management at UNE and he spent the remainder of his academic career based in Armidale. John produced path-breaking advances in agricultural economics and farm management, and was particularly prominent in the area of international development. John performed significant leadership roles at UNE and an unprecedented number of international agricultural research centres. John was the recipient of numerous awards, medals, fellowships and honorary doctorates. In 1997, John was invested as an Officer in the Order of Australia for services to agricultural economics and international development economics. John was renowned for his incisive approach to tough problems, humility, honesty, courtesy, mischievous humour, bright trouser suspenders and jangling finger rings! (Source: Anderson, AJARE 2002, 46:1).

Presenter:  Professor Euan Fleming
Date:          Thursday 4th May from 1-2 PM
Venue:        UNEBS, Lecture Theater 3
Title:           Reducing the costs of food waste: An economic assessment of alternative approaches

The costs of food waste in food value chains have been highlighted recently, particularly amid concerns over global food security due to climate change and global population growth projections. As more information has become available on the extent of waste, public and political pressures mount to do something about it as part of the drive to achieve more sustainable food production, marketing and consumption. Currently, around one third of global food production is wasted. The dispersion of food waste is highly variable among socioeconomic classes, value chains and different stages of the value chain.

Food waste occurs at virtually all stages in food value chains; however, in lower income countries waste occurs primarily in the early periods of the chain due to causes such as poor packaging; insufficient storage facilities; lack of adequate refrigeration; unsuitable infrastructure and conditions of market venues. In higher income countries, waste tends to occur mostly in the later stages of the chain due to manufacturing; display conditions, quality standards and leftovers/excessive planning. In many circumstances, simultaneous efforts are required from diverse sources to make significant inroads in tackling the problem because its causes and extent vary according to the stage at which they occur, and actions at one stage have implications for the ability of participants at other stages to take effective action.  Hence, the problems of food waste are deep-seated and complex.

A review is made of the analytical framework for assessing initiatives that have so far been taken in food value chains to reduce food waste. As a starting point, we take a  ‘whole-of-chain’ approach and consider the problem of food waste as an external cost – both within food value chains (negative chain externalities) and, because of spillovers, to society as a whole (negative social externalities). The initiatives that we review to tackle the problem cover a wide range of actions. Individuals can take action to reduce their own food waste, sometimes in response to government urgings, and governments can legislate to force individuals and firms to cut waste. But most actions require some form of collaboration whereby parties create ‘clubs’ to reduce waste. These ‘clubs’ are typically drawn from participants in food value chains, but governments and non-government organisations have also had important roles to play. These ‘clubs’ may be limited to few, many or all chain participants. Evidence we report suggests that larger chain benefits and social gains are likely to be associated with widespread involvement of participants in the chain.

Presenter:  Dr David Godden
Date:           27th April 2017 from 12-1 PM
Venue:        UNEBS, Lecture Theater 3
Title:           Economics of Collections


Societies maintain a wide variety of collections: art galleries and museums, libraries, national parks and heritage buildings, and scientific collections such as genetic collections (seed banks and zoos), collections of scientific instruments such as medical instruments and computers, and minerals, rock & ice drill cores, and soils. What collections should public organisations (as opposed to private collectors and philanthropists) keep, how big and with what accessions? Some of the relevant issues are economic; the costs of maintaining collections are relatively straightforward, the values may be less so. Many objects in collections have market values – most art works, many museum pieces, and rare books. Objects in some scientific collections have a derived demand – e.g. plant genetic collections. But others, such as drill cores and soils, have only scientific value. This seminar explores appropriate ways of valuing soil collections.

David Godden has degrees in agricultural economics, arts and economics from UNE, and a PhD from the University of London (LSE). He worked for nearly 20 years in the NSW Department of Agriculture, primarily in the economic analysis of public policy. He was a senior lecturer in agricultural economics at the University of Sydney for 12 years, focusing on economic analysis of public policy and natural resource economics. His last job before retirement was managing an economics unit in NSW Government environment agencies from NPWS to the Office of Environment and Heritage. His most important legacy is the students he taught and the staff he was responsible for. More details at:

The recordings of this session is available at

Seminar Program 2016

Abandonment of Milk Production under Uncertainty and Inefficiency
Presenter:   Professor Martin Odening
Date:           11th February 2016
Venue:        Lecture Theatre 2, W40 in EBL Building at 12:00PM
Martin Odening is Professor of Farm Management at the Department of Agricultural Economics of the Humboldt University, Berlin. Professor Odening completed his undergraduate, doctoral and post-doctoral studies at University of Göttingen. He has been visiting professor at UNE and University of Minnesota. Professor Odening is currently the Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics, has an extensive publication record and is member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the European Review of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Finance Review.
This seminar will examine the impact of technical efficiency on the irreversible optimal exit timing of farms in a real options model. I will show that higher efficiency and higher output price volatility make the farm more reluctant to irreversibly exit production. I tested this model using western German farm-level data from 1997–2011. The empirical analysis confirms that abandonment of dairy production goes along with low efficiency. This finding is true irrespective of whether we consider short-run or long-run efficiency. However, a mild deviation from optimal production does not lead to an immediate exit decision. This provides an explanation of the observed heterogeneity of efficiency scores among dairy farms.
The recordings of this session is available at:

Seminar Program 2015

Organisational Innovation in Agriculture and Food Chains: Towards Sustainable and Market Orientated Business Networks
Presenter:   Professor Jacques Trienekens
Date:           11th December 2015
Venue:        UNEBS, Lecture Theater 2
Jacques Trienekens is Professor of Chain and Network Management at Social Sciences Department of Wageningen University, in The Netherlands. In addition to being one of the world's leading food and agricultural universities, Wageningen University serves as a national and international focus for food industry research and innovation, providing interfaces for the public and privates sectors with the university.  Professor Triennekens has broad experience in national and international research projects related to food chains and networks, both as a researcher and a manager. He is editor and managing editor of the Journal on Chain and Network Science and the International Food and Agribusiness Management Review respectively, and has published more than 150 papers, many of these in peer reviewed international journals such as Journal of Supply Chain Management, International Journal for Production Economics, Advanced Engineering Informatics, Journal on Chain and Network Science and International Food and Agribusiness Management Review. Professor Trienekens is a Fellow of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA).  He has most recently been on sabbatical leave at Lincoln University in New Zealand, working on export value chains for agricultural products.
The globalisation of food chains and evolving consumer and stakeholder requirements concerning the safety and quality of food and its production processes is forcing businesses to look for ways to link up with other companies in the chain as well as with actors such as government, consumer organisations, NGOs, and research institutes. Taking part in sustainable business networks that address these requirements, and at the same time create new market opportunities, is one of the main challenges faced by food companies today. This seminar will focus on organisation and information exchange in food chains and networks. Results drawn from a number of (PhD) research projects based at Wageningen University will be presented, and also current research conducted into market-oriented international food chains and networks.
The recordings of this session is available at:
Developing New Value Chains for Small-Scale and Emerging Cattle Farmers in South Africa
Presenter:   Professor Garry Griffith
Date:            Friday 4th December

Garry Griffith is Adjunct Professor at UNE Business School. He was a Principal Research Scientist with the NSW Government for 38 years, until his retirement in 2011. Garry also led the Economics programs in the Beef and Sheep Cooperative Research Centres. He studied at the University of New England, at Macquarie University and at the University of Guelph in Canada. His major research interests are in the application of economic models of the Australian livestock industries to predict the impacts of changes in production technologies, advertising programs, and government policies; the links between the competitive structure of markets and the distribution of the benefits from effective technological change; and price formation processes in food and fibre markets and in the changing nature of the relationships between farm and retail prices. Professor Griffith currently holds part-time research positions in the UNE Business School at the University of New England and in Agriculture and Food Systems at the University of Melbourne. He also holds honorary positions at the University of Adelaide and the University of Pretoria, and has ongoing advisory roles with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and Genomics Canada. 


It is widely recognised that cattle managed by small-scale and emerging farmers in South Africa are a significantly under-utilised resource for generating income for rural families and communities and for contributing to feeding the nation’s poor consumers. A previous project focused on integrating this sector into the existing feedlot value chain, which provides about 75% of the beef consumed in South Africa. Valuable outcomes from this project at the farm level have been well documented but little integration has been evident higher up the value chain. Further, many of the cattle managed by small-scale and emerging farmers are not suitable for feedlot finishing and many of these farmers prefer to keep older animals for social and cultural reasons rather than sell weaners into the feedlots. These older animals are discriminated against in the South African beef classification system and consistently receive lower prices/kg than younger grain-fed animals, even though there is no scientific evidence to support the basis for market prices being age based, all else being equal. Since these older animals are sold primarily into low-value local markets, there is little incentive for producers or value chain partners to invest in a high quality pasture-fed beef value chain.

Recent survey data has confirmed the existence of a large and growing segment of middle and high income South African consumers who prefer healthy and sustainable attributes in their food purchases. One of the major South African supermarket chains, Woolworths, is heavily involved in this market segment in most food groups, but only in a minor way in beef due to the constraints imposed by the current beef classification system. Woolworths in fact imports a small amount of high value pasture-fed beef from Namibia to try and meet the latent demand from their customers. South Africa is a net importer of both beef and feeder cattle.
The focus of the project reviewed in this seminar is to undertake the research necessary to develop a wider range of market outlets, products and value chains for beef produced by the small-scale and emerging sector in South Africa. In particular, the project aims to design, trial and establish new value chains to supply high-quality niche-markets for pasture-finished cattle in South Africa (including cattle finished using other types of non-grain finishing systems). The research question posed is whether a high-quality pasture-finished beef product derived from the small-scale and emerging sector can be developed for the commercial market that meets consumers’ needs and that is cost–effective to produce and deliver to the market?
Through setting a number of outcome-focussed objectives, working with three commercial value chain partners (including Woolworths) in different regions, developing a network of cooperatives to ensure supply, and putting in place a measuring, monitoring and evaluation process, it is anticipated that the project will lead to (1) effective networks of farmer partnerships across the small-scale and emerging sector and with regional value chain partners; (2) increased capacity of the project's farmers, extension officers, technical staff, scientists and managers with regard to development of new market systems, value chains and partnerships for small-scale and emerging farmers; (3) better developed physical, natural, financial, social, environmental, human, knowledge and cultural forms of capital in rural communities; (4) new and/or improved theories, tools and mechanisms related to high-value beef products and effective and efficient value chain partnerships; and (5) enhanced capacity to realise sustainable beef industry growth in small-scale and emerging communities in South Africa.
In this seminar I will look back on the first year of the project. I will discuss the difficulties encountered in designing and implementing the project, and I will review the progress towards achieving the economic, social and environmental outcomes.
The recordings of this session is available at:

2015 Jack Makeham Memorial Lecture: 

Factors Influencing the Productivity and Efficiency of Wheat Farmers in Punjab, Pakistan
Presenter:  Associate Professor George Battese
Date:           Friday 6th November
Venue:        Lecture Theatre 2, W40 in EBL Building at 12:00PM.
George Battese is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of New England (UNE), Australia. He has three degrees from UNE: B.Ag.Ec. (1964), M.Ag.Ec. (1968) and D.Ec. (2005); and a PhD (1973) in statistics from Iowa State University. He was a full-time staff member at UNE during 1964–1967 and 1974–2002. He retired from full-time employment in August 2002 after completing 32 years of service at UNE. He has also had appointments at Iowa State University during 1967–1974, 1980/81 and 1987; plus short-term appointments at Gothenburg University in Sweden, the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad in Pakistan, Chiang Mai University in Thailand, and Saint Petersburg State University in Russia. He has had short-term consultancies at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC; Innovative Development Strategies in Islamabad, Pakistan; HarvestPlus, a division of IFPRI in Washington, DC; and the Asia Development Bank Institute in Tokyo. George has authored or co-authored over 40 publications on stochastic frontier analysis, 31 being included in his D.Ec. dissertation: "25 Years of Research on Modelling and Estimation of Stochastic Frontier Models".
His presentation for the Jack Makeham Memorial Lecture arises out of his consultancy at HarvestPlus in Washington, DC.
Scientists in Pakistan are currently developing bio-fortified wheat varieties to address widespread zinc deficiency, especially among women and children in poorer rural households. The purpose of this study is to understand how the productivity and efficiency of smaller-scale and marginal wheat farmers can be improved so that their households may benefit from zinc-fortified varieties. We estimate a stochastic frontier production function model with data from a survey of wheat farmers conducted in Punjab, Pakistan in 2011. The productivities of the newer varieties of wheat were significantly greater than the older varieties, as expected. Farmers growing wheat in the rice-wheat and cotton-wheat zones tend to be more efficient than farmers from the mixed zone. Farmers who wait to adopt a leading variety are not less efficient than earlier adopters, but the longer the time until they switch varieties again, the more inefficient is their wheat production. Older farmers tend to be more technically inefficient than younger farmers, but the effect of education is not statistically significant. Wheat farmers with access to extension advice are more efficient. Farmers whose land suffered from severe salinity or severe toxicity are less productive and less efficient than others. We find no differences in technical inefficiency effects associated with growing the four most popular varieties, either grown alone or with other varieties—suggesting that no single leading variety should be targeted for bio-fortification. In contrast to some earlier studies, we find that smaller-scale farmers tend to be less technically efficient. This result underscores the need to specifically target this group in promotional programs, and also to complement these with reinforcement of agronomic recommendations.
Links to the recordings of this session and previous seminars are available on the list of seminars at:
2015 John Dillon Memorial Lecture
Is Productivity Growth Bad?
Presenter:  Christopher O'Donnell
Date:           Friday 11th September
Venue:        Lecture Theatre 4, W42 in EBL Building at 1:00PM.
Christopher O’Donnell is Professor of Economics at the University of Queensland (UQ). He is Director of the UQ Centre for Efficiency and Productivity Analysis, a co-editor of the Journal of Productivity Analysis, an Associate Editor of Empirical Economics, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society. He is a theoretical and applied econometrician with more than 30 books and papers in international refereed journals. For the last several years, his research has focused on methods for decomposing measures of productivity change into measures of technical change, environmental change and efficiency change. He will publish a book on this topic with Springer in 2016. He has provided in-house training and/or been a consultant for organisations including the World Bank, the Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), the New South Wales Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), and the Australian Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA).
Productivity is a quantity concept, usually defined as a measure of total output divided by a measure of total input. Profit is a value concept, usually defined as total revenue minus total cost. Increases in productivity are not always associated with increases in profit. A lot depends on production technologies and how they are used. For example, if technologies exhibit decreasing returns to scale and firms are technically efficient, then, all other things being equal, productivity growth will be associated with decreases in profits. On the other hand, if technologies exhibit constant returns to scale, then productivity growth will generally be associated with increases in profits. Whether productivity growth is good or bad is an empirical question. This memorial lecture shows how to answer this question when prices and profits are unobserved. The methodology allows for variable returns to scale, technical inefficiency, and statistical noise. The empirical application is to OECD economies. The results are used to draw implications for public policy-making.
Links to the recordings of this session and previous seminars are available on the list of seminars at:
Designing Effective Policies for Climate-Smart Agriculture by Combining Evidence and Modelling
Presenter:  Professor Oscar Cacho
Date:          Friday 29th May
Venue:       Lecture Theatre 5, W39 in EBL Building at 13:00PM
Oscar Cacho is professor of agricultural and resource economics at UNE. He started his professional life as a marine biologist and later became an agricultural economist. His research interests centre on the application of bioeconomics to interesting problems in agriculture and natural resources. His recent work has been in two major areas: the economics of biosecurity to protect native ecosystems, and climate-change economics and policy with focus on land use change and forestry in tropical countries. He is a regular consultant to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN (FAO) on this topic.

Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is based on the principle that achieving food security and responding to the challenges of climate change are two goals that must be achieved together. The concept was first introduced by FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) as an approach to developing the technical, policy and investment conditions to achieve sustainable agricultural development for food security under climate change. Interest in CSA has been growing to the extent that the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture was launched on 23 September 2014 at the UN Climate Summit in New York.
An essential feature of CSA is its reliance on a solid evidence base. This involves combining household-level data with climatic, environmental, agricultural, demographic, institutional and economic data, while accounting for spatial heterogeneity. Econometric analysis of the evidence base provides useful insights into policies to enhance development and adoption of desirable practices. Econometric model parameters provide estimates of the marginal response of CSA outcomes to alternative policies. These parameters can be used to calibrate stochastic simulation models for policy analysis. In this seminar, probit models of adoption and disadoption of CSA technologies are used to derive transition probability matrices for a Markov model of long-term adoption that accounts for spatial heterogeneity. Potential uses of the model in policy analysis are explained.
This type of analysis can only be done ex-post for policies that are included in the dataset and for which enough variation has occurred to provide reliable regression coefficients. In contrast, ex-ante analysis of proposed policies can be undertaken using mathematical programming models of farm households. These farm models explicitly consider technical relationships between inputs and outputs as well as taking into account the constraints faced by various types of households. The range of policies and technologies that can be explored is expanded by allowing the analyst to predict how farm households would react to changes in yields, prices and in the constraints they face, all of which can be influenced through policy. A critical question is how to calibrate the farm-level models to be consistent with the observed behaviour of different types of farmers operating in a heterogeneous environment. Ideas will be presented for the development and calibration of these models and their application in policy analysis.
The work reported in this seminar was undertaken by Professor Oscar Cacho during a 6-month period working with the EPIC (Economics and Policy Innovations for Climate-Smart Agriculture) team at FAO in Rome. It is part of a continuing collaboration working on producing several useful outputs.
Value in Collaboration: Opportunities for Closer Links between Schools of Business and Schools of Agriculture
Presenter:  Professor Ray Collins
Date:          Thursday 19th March
Venue:       Lecture Theatre 1, W40 in EBL Building at 15:00PM.
Ray Collins is Professor of Agribusiness in the School of Land and Food Sciences at The University of Queensland and has had visiting appointments at the University of Tasmania and Huazhong Agricultural University in China. His research focuses on agribusiness competitiveness through alliances and value chain strategies, with special interests in new industries, fresh food products, developing countries and the markets of Asia. More than $5m of research grants over the last 10 years have allowed him to examine the application of value chain management approaches to economic development in Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines, while the work of his PhD students has extended these concepts to China, Kenya, Nepal, South Africa, Indonesia, Canada and Australia.
Ray chaired the Federal Government’s $35m Rural Food Processors Innovation and Productivity Program and for 10 years was Advisory Board member of the government’s New Industries Development Program and Industry Partnerships Program.
Ray has more than 100 publications and has graduated about 20 PhD and 30 Masters students. He has also been the recipient of awards for excellence in teaching, research and international collaboration, and was co-recipient of an Australian Teaching Award for linking education with the needs of industry.
In most universities, greater collaboration between Schools of Business and Schools of Agriculture would increase opportunities to attract competitive research funding and attract more students. This seminar first explores why collaboration has not been the norm, then briefly presents value chain management as a promising framework for building collaborative research teams, and finally discusses what benefits can flow to individuals, schools and universities from greater collaboration. Case studies from current research are used to illustrate the principles involved.
Obituary (Download here)
Jack (John Alfred) Sinden

1939 - 2015

One of the longest-serving academic agricultural economists and a pioneer of non-market valuation, Jack Sinden died on 21st October 2015 in Armidale, New South Wales. Those who knew him will remember his dedication as a teacher, supervisor and an excellent colleague. Jack had an outstanding record in teaching, a first-class record in research, and an exemplary record of service to the University of New England (UNE) and the community.

Jack was born in 1939 in Kent and grew up on a dairy farm. Jack was a cricket tragic from an early age. He was opening bat for his primary school in Sussex “not just because I could bat, but because I observed that almost nobody could bowl […] including myself”[…] “I never tried to hit the ball – I simply tried to remain in. I was a successful stayer but I scored very few runs. I was eventually dropped from the team with a batting average of 4 but I spent at least 5 overs at the crease in every match […] as a result, I continue to have an abiding interest in the strategy and tactics of the game”.

Jack obtained a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Forest Science from the University of Wales. He completed the four-year degree in three years. Jack then went to the University of Michigan where he obtained a Master of Forestry. He returned to the University of Wales to undertake a PhD in Forestry Economics.

Shortly after graduation, Jack was offered a position in Australia as a Silvicultural Officer with the Forest Research Institute in Canberra, now part of CSIRO. Jack endured a six-week sea voyage to come to Australia in 1965. In his own words, he was one of the last “legal boat people”.

In April 1966, Jack attended a forestry refresher school at UNE, at which John Dillon, then Professor of Farm Management in the Faculty of Agricultural Economics, delivered a lecture. According to Jack this was a turning point for him. He was impressed with Dillon’s presentation and decided to visit the Faculty, where he found the strong sense of purpose and direction very appealing. From then on, Jack was determined to obtain a position at UNE. He succeeded when, in 1967, he was appointed as a Lecturer. Jack went on to become an Associate Professor. He remained at UNE for 48 years, retiring only in 2011, after which he became an Adjunct. Recognition of Jack’s achievements came in 2012 when he was made a Distinguished Fellow of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.

Jack commanded the respect of countless students, delivering over 6000 lectures to undergraduate students. His influence was profound, providing solid conceptual foundations as well as the inspiration to push the boundaries of theory and practice. Jack made substantial contributions to the development of curricula in resource economics, having developed a highly-rated first-year unit and published a widely-prescribed text in the discipline. His skills in explaining complexities to his undergraduate classes were renowned. Jack kept a card file of students’ names and would rotate through the file to learn the names and ensure that he asked every student in class a question to confirm they understood what he had just taught.

Jack was generous with his time, mentoring students and supervising a large number of undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations. He formed long-term associations with many of his students and continued to publish with them. Jack was the Graduate Student Coordinator (Masters) at UNE from 1994 to 2010. He was well known for his personal touch with prospective students and he was instrumental in attracting some of the best students who have been through UNE. Jack took his role very seriously and never missed a student seminar, where his contributions were always precise and insightful.

In his research, Jack was ahead of his time. He started thinking about non-market environmental valuation long before it caught the attention of the profession. Jack spent two periods of study leave at Yale University where he established an important collaboration with fellow forest economist Professor Albert Worrell, which led to the publication of their influential book Unpriced Values: Decisions Without Market Prices (Sinden and Worrell 1979). This was a path breaking book not only in Australia but also internationally as it pioneered thinking on methods that could be used to integrate environmental impacts into benefit cost analysis. These visits to Yale were especially fruitful as it was there that Jack met his wife Marly in 1973.

Jack also had visiting appointments at the universities of Oregon and Arizona where he established other fruitful collaborations. His approach to estimating the demand for environmental quality by recourse to the elicitation of utility functions and indifference was published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (Sinden 1974). This was a neat method involving additive linear utility within a simple game-theoretic framework. He applied this method in varied contexts and had his work published in Regional Science and Urban Economics (Sinden and Wyckoff 1976) and again in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (Findlater and Sinden 1982). Other notable publications of Jack included his work on the disparities between willingness to pay and willingness to accept in The Quarterly Journal of Economics (Knetsch and Sinden 1984, 1987); and his papers on valuing soil conservation in Land Economics (King and Sinden 1988, 1994).

Jack’s main research passions were Australian Agriculture and Australian Forestry. Not surprisingly, over the past 4 decades, Jack’s research agenda straddled forestry and its effect on agriculture – especially soil conservation and the importance of native vegetation. It was indeed a natural progression for Jack to explore the impact of weeds on Australian agriculture and environment, with the production of an influential monograph on the economic impact of weeds in Australia (Sinden et al. 2004). Jack’s work on the carrying capacity of forests was a precursor to the conceptualisation of productive capacity in Environmental Macroeconomics – an area he engaged in since 2000.

Jack’s collaboration with Dodo Thampapillai, one of his early PhD students, resulted in the integration of many of the principles of non-market valuation in their book Introduction to Benefit-Cost Analysis, (Sinden and Thampapillai 1995), which became a prescribed text in universities throughout Australia and the world. As Dodo explains, this book was primarily Jack’s project to simplify and render the subject of benefit-cost analysis so that it was readily comprehensible to practitioners and students – and he (Dodo) was fortunate to be chosen as the junior author. Not surprisingly, many government departments such as the Australian Treasury and Prime Minister and Cabinet list this text in their reference list.

Jack helped Dodo to publish the second edition of Environmental Economics: Concepts, Methods and Policies (Thampapillai and Sinden 2013), which they completed while Jack’s health was declining. In characteristic style, Jack persevered and continued to go to his office until the job was done.

In 1997, Jack spent three months at the University of Agriculture at Faisalabad in Pakistan for a World Bank project. Here, Jack and Marly established enduring friendships with staff in the Faculty of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. During their visit, they were fortunate to meet Imran Khan, the famous captain of the Pakistani cricket team, (and his dog!) by befriending a taxi driver who had the right contacts. This visit also led Jack to collaborations that resulted in several publications with his Pakistani colleagues.

Jack’s outputs included five books and nearly 90 papers in refereed journals. He was instrumental in bringing environmental issues to the attention of the economics profession in Australia. Jack had an ability to draw out the most important implications and recommendations from his research and make them understandable to policy makers. He was a leader in the debate regarding the effects of the Native Vegetation Conservation Act introduced by the NSW Government in 1997. His research (Sinden 2004 a, b) demonstrated that the Act imposed a large cost on farmers and he was instrumental in achieving an amendment to the Act. Jack made other important contributions, including chairing the National Industry Leadership Group for the Australia-wide Horticulture for Tomorrow Project.

Beyond his academic life, Jack was also a published model-railway builder, a competitive orienteerer, and a keen backgammon player, who kept track of all his games. At the time of Jack’s retirement from UNE in December 2011 the score was about 25,000 to 20,000 games in Marly’s favour!

Jack made a significant contribution to agricultural and resource economics over a long and inspiring career. Through his teaching, research and research supervision, Jack influenced generations of graduates, many of whom have gone on to leading roles in their fields, nationally and internationally. A multi-awarded teacher and researcher, Jack is survived by his wife Marly, his children and grandchildren, and a menagerie of pets.


Findlater, P. A. & Sinden, J. A. (1982). Estimation of recreation benefits from measured utility functions. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 64, 102-109.
King, D. A. & Sinden, J. A. (1988). Influence of soil conservation on farm land values. Land Economics, 64, 242-255.
King, D. A. & Sinden, J. A. (1994). Price formation in farm land markets. Land Economics, 70, 38-52.
Knetsch, J. L. & Sinden, J. A. (1984). Willingness to pay and compensation demanded: Experimental evidence of an unexpected disparity in measures of value. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 99, 507-521.
Knetsch, J. L. & Sinden, J. A. (1987). The persistence of evaluation disparities. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 102, 691-696.
Sinden, J. A. (1974). A utility approach to the valuation of recreational and aesthetic experiences. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 56, 61-72.
Sinden, J. A. (2004a). Estimating the opportunity costs of biodiversity protection in the Brigalow Belt, New South Wales. Journal of Environmental Management, 70, 351-362.
Sinden, J. A. (2004b). Do the public gains from vegetation protection in north-western New South Wales exceed the landholders' loss of land value? The Rangeland Journal, 26, 204-224.
Sinden, J. A. & O'Hanlon, P. W. (1981). A market simulation game to value unpriced goods and services. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 11, 101-119.
Sinden, J., Jones, R., Hester, S., Odom, D., Kalisch, C., James, R. & Cacho, O. (2004). The economic impact of weeds in Australia. CRC for Australian Weed Management. Technical Series, 8.
Sinden, J. A. & Thampapillai, D. J. (1995). Introduction to benefit-cost analysis. Longman Australia.
Sinden, J. A. & Worrell, A. C. (1979). Unpriced values: decision without market prices. Wiley, New York.
Sinden, J. A. & Wyckoff, J. B. (1976). Indifference mapping: An empirical methodology for economic evaluation of the environment. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 6, 81-103.
Thampapillai, D.J. & Sinden, J. A. (2013). Environmental economics: concepts, methods and policies. OUP Catalogue.

Note: This obituary was compiled from several sources, including Jack’s 2012 AARES Distinguished Fellow Citation (AJARE Volume 58), his retirement speeches, his curriculum vitae , and accounts from his former students and colleagues.


Roley Piggott - A Celebration


The recording of the celebration of Roley’s life and achievements is accessible to all at:

New England Branch

Branch AGM

The New England Branch holds its AGM by 31 March each year.