Best year yet: $100 billion goal in view
While challenges surrounding workforce shortages and trade disruption remain, a farmgate output of $100 billion by 2030 remains in our farmers’ sights, with the National Farmers Federation (NFF) saying the forecast for this year is set to be the sector’s best on record.
The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Science (ABARES) forecasts farm production to tally $65.9 billion in 2020-2021, which has been driven by strong commodity prices and improved seasonal conditions.
“The past five years have been incredibly tough for many farmers,” says NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar. “Today’s forecast demonstrates that, despite challenges, Australian farmers are an economic powerhouse and their success will be key to our nation’s economic recovery.”
While ABARES has confirmed that the severe labour shortages in the horticulture sector have led to a fall in horticulture production across the country, Mahar says the NFF-led target for a $100 billion agriculture sector by 2030 is well within reach.
“Agriculture is already on a firm trajectory of growth,” he says. “With investments, innovations and policy changes, this growth can be supercharged.”
Among the changes needed are measures to counter ongoing trade disruptions, which are forecast to cost $36.9 billion this decade.
“The NFF is calling on government to develop a long-term trade strategy that deepens access to existing markets, diversifies export destinations, improves supply chains and builds domestic value-adding capabilities,” Mahar says.
Biosecurity is also key to maintaining and expanding our export markets, however, without adequate investment in its expansion and modernisation there is the risk that our current system might not be up to the task – and the cost of a single outbreak of disease or pest has been conservatively estimated to exceed $50 billion.
Despite these challenges, Mahar says that the latest ABARES figures are “a feather in the cap” of our farmers: “With ongoing commitments from industry and government to growth, the future is bright indeed for Australian agriculture,” he says.