CANBERRA, AAP – Australia’s farm production is tipped to smash record value with a bumper crop fuelling a major rise to $73 billion.
The federal government’s agriculture forecaster ABARES on Tuesday released its latest commodity report which predicts the value surge in 2021/22.
Last year’s $66 billion production value is set to be eclipsed by $7 billion, an encouraging step towards achieving an industry goal of $100 billion by 2030.
A second consecutive strong cropping year has partly driven the increase as farmers bounce back from crippling droughts and other natural disasters.
The value of crop production is forecast to increase seven per cent to a record $39.5 billion because of strong price increases for grains, cotton and sugar.
Livestock production value is expected to rise eight per cent to $33.5 billion, driven by higher volumes.
Export values are tipped to lift 12 per cent to $54.7 billion, fuelled by the prices of crops, wool, red meat and dairy.
Over the past decade production has grown from $47 billion in 2011/12 despite dry spells, fire, floods and pests.
ABARES executive director Jared Greenville said the revised forecast was due to a range of factors tumbling neatly into place.
“Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end,” he said.
“Australian farmers operate in one of the world’s most variable climates so we cannot expect the good seasons to keep coming. The same can be said for high world prices.”
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said it was a year to be proud of with farming growing 1.3 per cent in the most recent quarter.
“That may not sound like much, but we are dealing in unprecedented economic times, and plenty of industries in Australia haven’t been lucky enough to see that kind of growth,” he said.
“We’re looking at our second good year in a row, with a bumper crop harvest, international demand for our produce and a strong market for livestock.”
Mr Littleproud acknowledged international trade and labour shortages continued to be key challenges for agriculture.
Trade bans from China have hit a range of valuable commodities while the government is hopeful a new dedicated agriculture visa can help soothe workforce issues.
Labor’s agriculture spokesman Julie Collins said the report showed labour shortages could drive up prices for consumers and hurt farmers.
“If Scott Morrison had done his job on vaccines and national quarantine, farmers would not be facing another harvest with such significant labour shortages,” she said.
Ms Collins accused the minister of leaving the potential of rising mouse numbers to state governments.
But Mr Littleproud said the government was keeping an eye on populations through southern Queensland and northern NSW.
“While mouse numbers are unlikely to impact the harvest, they may affect grain stored on-site,” he said.
“Bulk handlers are already upping their storage to make sure that we can get as much crop to the market at possible.”