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A$300b Agribusiness Target to Spur Flailing Australian Economy

A$300b Agribusiness Target to Spur Flailing Australian Economy

(27 July 2020 – Australia) An ambitious A$300 billion target has been set by the Agribusiness Australia Association as the country hunts for an urgent revenue response to the record pile of national debt.

The revised target of expanding the industry to A$300 billion a year by 2030 represents an enormous increase on the National Farmers Federation initial goal of expanding farmgate production to A$100 billion by 2020. Agriculture is Australia’s fastest growing sector and second only to mining in terms of its importance to the national economy, contributing more than A$63 billion or 2.3 percent to Australia’s GDP in 2016-17.

The recently released State of the Industry agribusiness report highlighted that the sector was way off the pace in achieving the A$100 billion farmgate target, was not growing as fast as competitor export nations and was losing market share to Black Sea and South America rivals. The report found there was a ‘distinct lack of foreign investment’ in farmland and farm production despite a heavy concentration of foreign ownership in areas such as grain trading and marketing, red meat, sugar cane and dairy processing.

“Further investment in agriculture in Australia throughout the supply chain is required to achieve critical success. However, with foreign investment and ownership comes a community sentiment that Australia is losing control of its agricultural sector, not enhancing it” the report said.

“Some of the negative sentiment around foreign investment is unfounded. What we are saying is where the money comes from is important in some areas but really direct foreign investment in Australian agriculture is needed for us to innovate and for us to grow” stated Elders CEO and Agribusiness Australia Chairman Mark Allison.

“I've swung my thinking to how can we minimise the market threats because Belt & Road will provide additional trading partners for China that are competitive to Australia. So it is more a case of if we can’t look at the opportunities of Belt & Road, then let’s look at the threats” Mr Allison added.

“R&D funds should be directed to the farm industries with the best growth prospects. There are industries that have the potential to grow 50-100 percent in the coming years, and there are those that don’t have the same potential. There is opportunity to hive off investment dollars across the investment spectrum, from the RDCs, CSIRO, CRCs (Cooperative Research Centres) universities and state governments, directly into growth industries from farmgate through the value chain. That would give us a chance” commented former Horticulture Innovation Australia Chairman John Lloyd speaking at the summit.

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