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Australian agriculture celebrates a record-breaking year

Despite the ups and downs of 2021, Australian Agriculture has enjoyed a year of widespread favourable weather conditions and high commodity prices. 

The National Famers Federation (NFF) ’s annual 2030 Roadmap Report Card, which captures progress by industry and governments against the sector’s 2030 goals, revealed in 2021, the industry achieved a record-breaking $78 billion in farm-gate output. 

Australia’s next $100 billion industry

According to the annual snapshot released today, Australian agriculture has recorded substantial progress in 2021 towards its goal of being Australia’s next $100 billion industry. 

However, 2021 hasn’t been without setbacks. Famers across Australia faced numerous challenges to post the record-breaking output. 

NFF President Fiona Simson said, “Official forecasts have us on track to exceed $78 billion in farm production for the first time this financial year. 

“This is despite the disruptions and setbacks of COVID-19, labour shortages, and a mouse plague in eastern Australia.”

Ms Simon emphasised this year’s snapshot showcased the sectors potential and capacity to represent the cornerstone of Australia’s future economy.

She said, “This shows us that the drivers which underpin our growth are solid. Farming is a sustainable, long term growth opportunity for Australia that we must continue to seize.” 

The agricultural sector has taken significant steps in 2021 to strengthen the future of Australian farming. 

The NFF reports these steps to include: 

  • Growing access to new markets
  • Deepening connections with the customer base
  • Investing in systems that underpin Australian food exports
  • Creating pathways to welcome new talent
  • Becoming smarter in how precious natural resources are managed.

The future of Australian agriculture 

In addition to the year’s financial result, the 2021 report card found that the sector has worked to position itself as a viable and sustainable Industry. 

“Three years into delivering the 2030 Roadmap, we’re starting to see the tangible benefits of having industry and governments behind a shared vision for the future.

“Areas such as recognising and rewarding environmental services, accessing new markets and better connecting with the community have all seen positive progress this year,” Ms Simson said.

She continued: “That said, there is plenty left to do. The farm labour crisis needs to be a continued focus for policymakers and industry. Attracting the human and financial capital to support our growth is a serious challenge that we need to square up to.”

The report stated that continued focus and investment in innovative technology and sustainable practices will be vital in ensuring the long-term, smart growth of Australian agriculture to 2030 and beyond.

Ms Simson said, “Providing farmers with the digital skills and connectivity to take advantage of new technologies is also an ongoing priority.

“We know that the digitisation of farm businesses can bring huge productivity gains, but recent surveying by the NFF found services in the bush going backwards, rather than forwards.”

Agriculture in the Federal Election

Looking to 2022, the NFF says the approaching Federal Election presents an opportunity to place agriculture and regional Australia front and centre in the national political agenda.

Ms Simson said, “This year has shown us that with the right policy settings, the farm sector can deliver big results for Australia.”

Ms Simon says that policymakers of all persuasions should continue to focus and invest in Australia’s agricultural sector and the regional areas that support it.

She continued: “As we head to the polls next year, it’s critical that each party comes with a credible suite of policies to support our sector’s 2030 ambitions.”

2022 agricultural forecast 

In its annual report card, the NFF outlines the agricultural forecast for 2022, both positive and negative. 

Some of the favourable predictions for 2022 include: 

  • La Niña weather pattern is forecast to persist until late summer / early Autumn – providing above-average summer rainfall.
  • A Federal Election provides the opportunity to put the needs of agriculture and the bush front and centre on the national agenda.
  • Major agricultural commodities continue to maintain historically high prices.
  • Recommencement of international travel coupled with the dedicated Agricultural Visa will normalise labour supply.
  • Supportive policies and projects to begin opening new environmental services markets to farmers.
  • Significant increases in land values give farmers greater capital access to invest in productivity and resilience.

Possible adverse agricultural conditions predicted for 2022 are: 

  • Spikes in prices and risks to supply for key inputs such as fertiliser and chemicals.
  • Freight disruptions, delays and price increases for shipping and air freight.
  • Ongoing trade tensions with major trading partners.
  • Uncertainty over timeframes for international travel normalisation.
  • Increasing demands from financiers and trading partners to demonstrate sustainability.

Ms Simons concluded by saying, “There is always more to do, and I hope you’ll join us in 2022 as we celebrate another record year for our industry and continue to plan ahead for more record-breaking years to come.” 

Read more:Australian agribusinesses remain resilient backed by strong farmer sentiment, survey finds

Read more:Eye-wateringly high valuations, a focus on ‘purpose’, and convergence between healthcare and tech: Venture capital predictions for 2022

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Heidi Heck

Heidi Heck

Heidi Heck is a Journalist at Dynamic Business. She is a student at the University of Queensland where she studies Journalism and Economics. Heidi has a passion for the stories of small business, as well as the bigger picture of economics.

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