Playing to our strengths key to unlocking Australian agriculture’s prosperity in an uncertain future
2 March 2021
Specialised crops, traceable produce and meeting consumer expectations will be key to unlocking the prosperity of Australia’s $66 billion agricultural industries in an uncertain future.
ABARES acting Executive Director Dr Jared Greenville told the Outlook 2021 Conference today that value adding and continuing to improve our clean, safe and green credentials would pay dividends to the nation.
“Rising to this challenge will demand an unrelenting focus on skills and innovation,” Dr Greenville said.
“Australian agriculture has delivered a remarkable turnaround from drought with a near-record winter crop harvest and strong meat prices.
“We fared well during 2020, weathering many of the global disruptions created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic alongside the local impacts of drought and bushfires.
“The resilience and agility of the sector has shone through, and Australian products remain highly regarded.
“With the sector’s growth targets there is a renewed focus on value adding as a means to help lift sector value and returns to producers.
“But there is more to value adding than just downstream processing.
“Australian agricultural production has increasingly specialised what used to be bulk commodities–be that specific grains for bespoke production, organic certification, clean meat and traceable produce.
“These attributes have carved niche markets for Australian exports and generated higher returns for farmers.
“The key is keeping the costs of meeting consumer expectations low and making sure our export systems are efficient.
“We also need to ensure trade rules and systems reward producers for their efforts and protect their brand in international markets.
“That means innovation, upskilling the agriculture labour force, and better and more efficient export systems—all areas of significant government and industry focus.
“These steps will help grow farm gate value and will set the foundations for new forms of local processing.
“The imperative will be the delivery of these foundational investments: our agricultural success depends on it.”