On track for future growth
LAST week the State Government released its scorecard for Tasmanian agriculture in the 2015-2016 financial year.
The results are very pleasing, even more so as they came in a year when we faced challenging seasonal conditions and some weakening of commodity markets.
Tasmania’s agrifood production grew by 5.9 per cent in the period, with beef and cherries demonstrating impressive growth. The total value of agriculture now stands at $1.48 bilAt lion dollars. By any measure, this is an outstanding result and something we can all be very proud of.
Red meat production remains the key contributor to gross value, followed closely by dairy. Horticulture, in particular cherries, continues to demonstrate phenomenal growth.
the same time, the Government released an update on its agrifood plan. It has set a goal of increasing Tasmania’s agricultural production to $10 billion a year by 2050. The latest figures for 2015-2016 show that we are currently on target.
The Government continues to develop policy settings designed to maintain this growth. The TFGA commends this approach and looks forward to similar commitments from Labor and the Greens.
That said, we should be under no illusions about the challenges facing the sector, many of which I have spoken about in this column.
Ongoing commitment to biosecurity and ensuring it is funded on a needs basis is paramount in protecting our sector and the growth seen in these latest figures.
The TFGA has reservations about the existing irrigation models. If we are to continue this growth and remain competitive in national and international markets our costs of production need to be reduced to a sustainable level. Inflated costs of energy and water are not the way to achieve this. We will continue to work with all parties and stakeholders to address these cost imposts and to seek other ways to maximise on-farm profitability.
These figures also demonstrate the quality of the state’s agricultural products, which is not only recognised nationally but which the world now actively seeks. Overseas exports are up 12.2 per cent to just shy of $.7 billion. Our capacity to produce niche and high-end value products is second to none. The challenge is to find a way for our commodity products to also reap the benefits.
Irrespective of the agricultural product we need to ensure it carries the Tasmanian brand and in doing so demands a premium. There is existing support but we must also actively promote the brand.