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Can agriculture become the next $100 billion industry?

  • By: Farm Tender "Prime"
  • Oct 31, 2017

By Robbie Sefton

The agriculture industry is growing at a phenomenal rate.

But can it really be Australia’s next $100 billion industry?

According to the latest figures agriculture is now the largest contributor to national GDP (gross domestic product) growth and the fastest growing economic sector, rising 23 per cent in the past 12 months.

It is no surprise that the main drivers of this growth are the livestock industries – beef, lamb, goat meat and offal – grains and wool.

At the Farm Writers’ Association of NSW lunch in Sydney last week, National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President Fiona Simson covered the topic: With Agriculture now the largest contributor to national GDP growth and the fastest growing economic sector – What is the view on the future from the peak industry body?

The NFF certainly believes it is achievable for the agriculture industry to be Australia’s next $100 billion industry by 2030 and have developed a “recipe” for the industry to succeed.

“We have to get some of these things right if we are going to achieve the goals,” Mrs Simson said.

NFF’s recipe looks something like this:

Human Talent: “It is important to bring and keep good people in our industry and it is important to bring in new talent. Our industry does have a labour supply gap and we have to face the facts, a lot of the jobs in agriculture, Australians don’t want to do,” she said.

The NFF is proposing an agriculture visa for overseas workers which would be specifically set up for agriculture and recognise the labour shortage in the industry and regions.

Flexible Capital: “Some of the environment we are operating in has outdated road, rail and infrastructure. We need to bring in money.”

When it comes to investing in agriculture Mrs Simson has a different opinion than what a lot of farmers might think.

“We need foreign investment to grow. There is a $160 billion capital gap and there is a lot of capital overseas that is only too willing to come in. Capital is a good thing and growth is a good thing. We need to make sure we keep the discussion very fact focused and look at it factually for what the investment brings and how it is structured.”

Accelerating Productivity: “How can we use that R&D to keep doing more? Can we keep growing better crops, increase yields, how can we be more productive?”

Premium Branding: “Branding is something that has eluded agriculture for some time. We all operate under our own brands. How much more can we achieve if we can get under one premium Australian brand like New Zealand?”

Digital Connectivity: “To date a lot of rural Australia doesn’t have the ability to make the most of some of the amazing technological advance coming our way.”

Market Access: “We continue to look at new markets going forward. Just signing the free-trade agreements doesn’t necessarily mean happy days for anyone. There are a lot of non-tariff barriers that stop us putting produce in to countries.”

Becoming the next $100 billion industry is a bold vision, but this is a solid “recipe” and one which can be achieved if the whole industry works together.

As Mrs Simson said, “It isn’t just about farmers, but it is about agribusiness. This is about an agricultural industry”.

Go team agriculture!