Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper

​​​​​Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, December 2017

These fact sheets provide current information about how the Australian Government is supporting the agriculture, fisheries and water sectors, and are available for download.


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Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper

​The Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper is the Australian Government’s plan to grow agriculture. It is a $4 billion investment in our farmers.

Stronger farmers, stronger economy

Agriculture has always played an important role in the success of our nation—it touches all Australians.

The Australian Government is committed to strengthening the sector and ensuring it remains as competitive as possible. Stronger farmers mean a stronger Australian economy.

The opportunities for the agriculture sector are enormous. Australia is on the edge of the strongest growing region in the world, has a developed agriculture sector, has world-class food safety and environmental credentials, possesses modern technology, has a strong economy and employs skilled labour.

Priority areas

  1. A fairer go for farm business—helping farmers achieve better farmgate returns with fairer competition, better regulation and an improved tax system.
  2. Building the infrastructure of the 21st century— planning ahead and thinking innovatively about infrastructure, including securing water supplies.
  3. Strengthening our approach to drought and risk management—practical measures to help manage drought and other risks facing farmers.
  4. Farming smarter—access to advanced technologies and practices, including better research and development (R&D) and skilled workers.
  5. Accessing premium markets—improving international trade to grow farm businesses.

Key Facts

  • The agriculture sector directly employs around 330,000 people. Indirectly agriculture employs more than 1.8 million people in the input and output sectors, food manufacturing and processing, distribution and retail.
  • Agriculture contributed 0.5 percentage points to the Australian economy’s 2.4% year-on-year growth to the December quarter of 2016—the largest contribution of all 19 sectors of the economy.
  • The gross value of crop production is forecast to be $29.4 billion in 2017–18, a return to more average production levels following a record 2016–17.
  • The gross value of livestock production is forecast to increase by 0.8% to $28.8 billion in 2017–18.
  • Export earnings from farm commodities are forecast to reach $45.2 billion in 2017–18.
  • The gross value of Australian farm production is forecast to fall by 8.6% to $58.2 billion in 2017–18.
  • Farm cash income for Australian broadacre farms (cropping, beef and sheep) averaged $216,000 per farm in 2016–17.

Delivering tangible benefits to Australia’s farm businesses

 Since its launch in July 2015, the White Paper has delivered real, tangible benefits to Australia’s farm businesses. The Australian Government has implemented 25 of the White Paper measures, and implementation of the remaining measures is well underway. Reforms include:

  • country of origin labelling reforms introduced in July 2016
  • $250 million per year for Farm Business Concessional Loans
  • up to $200 million to improve biosecurity surveillance and analysis
  • $30.8 million to break down technical barriers and invest in 5 new overseas agricultural counsellors
  • $100 million to extend the Rural R&D for Profit program to 2021–22
  • $25.8 million to manage pest animals and weeds in drought-affected areas
  • establishing the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Agriculture Unit and appointing an agriculture commissioner
  • $13.8 million for the Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Programme
  • allowing for accelerated depreciation for fencing, water reticulation and fodder storage
  • increasing the Farm Management Deposits (FMD) deposit cap to $800,000, enabling use of FMDs as farm loan offsets and reintroducing an early access trigger for drought
  • $22.8 million to increase Farm Household Allowance case management for farmers.

Further information

General inquiry 1800 900 090
GPO Box 858, Canberra ACT 2601 ​

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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