Ag pro­duc­tion hits $60 bil­lion

Central and North Burnett Times - - FENCE POST -

FARM pro­duc­tion is set to con­trib­ute $60.2 bil­lion to the Aus­tralian Econ­omy in the 2016-17 fi­nan­cial year.

Ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture andWater Re­source’s agri­cul­ture com­modi­ties re­port the gross value of farm pro­duc­tion is fore­cast to in­crease by 6.1% in 2016-17, fol­low­ing an es­ti­mated 4.2 per cent in­crease to $56.7 bil­lion in 2015-16.

At this fore­cast level the gross value of farm pro­duc­tion would be around 16% higher than the av­er­age of $52 bil­lion over the five years to 2015-16.

De­spite this, the gross value of live­stock pro­duc­tion is fore­cast to de­crease by 2.2% to $28.5 bil­lion in 2016-17, fol­low­ing an es­ti­mated 7.7% in­crease in 2015-16.

The Aus­tralian Farm In­sti­tute’s Mick Keogh said at­tempt­ing to fore­cast how Aus­tralian agri­cul­ture will fare in 2017 is an ex­er­cise fraught with risk, but “it’s prob­a­bly fair to as­sume that for most in­volved in the sec­tor, 2017 will not be as good as 2016.”

“The last time such a big jump in the an­nual value of agri­cul­tural out­put oc­curred was in 2001-02, a pe­riod that also in­volved that rare com­bi­na­tion of good sea­sonal con­di­tions and high com­mod­ity prices,” Mr Keogh said.

“How­ever, the on­set of the mil­len­nium drought in 2003 meant that it was a fur­ther seven years be­fore the gross value of agri­cul­tural out­put ex­ceeded the level achieved in 2001-02.

“Hope­fully the com­ing sea­sons will not be a re­peat of the mid-2000s, and the cur­rent state of both pub­lic and pri­vate wa­ter stor­ages in the eastern states pro­vide some re­as­sur­ance that the sec­tor is well po­si­tioned if a dry sea­son is forth­com­ing.”

Mr Keogh said tech­nol­ogy and ac­cess to open data would also be a big is­sue fac­ing farm­ers in 2017.

“Many of the po­ten­tial gains from dig­i­tal agri­cul­ture are not avail­able with­out good in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity, some­thing which is sadly lack­ing for many agri­cul­tural busi­nesses, even those lo­cated close to ma­jor re­gional cen­tres,” he said.

“Get­ting data avail­abil­ity and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ac­cess right will be a ma­jor chal­lenge if the ben­e­fits of dig­i­tal agri­cul­ture are to be re­alised in Aus­tralia, and 2017 is shap­ing up as a crit­i­cal year for both these is­sues.”

POS­I­TIVE GROWTH: The gross value of agri­cul­ture pro­duc­tion in 2016 will ex­ceed $60 bil­lion, 16% higher than the pre­vi­ous five years.

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