2018: Year of ag in­no­va­tion

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - News - AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

AS 2017 draws to a close, Queens­land agri­cul­ture has a pos­i­tive story to tell ac­cord­ing to Com­mon­wealth Bank re­gional and agribusi­ness bank­ing gen­eral man­ager for Queens­land, Kerry McGowan.

Dis­cussing the lat­est Com­mBank Agri In­sights, Mr McGowan said strong prices in the beef in­dus­try had buoyed pro­duc­ers’ pos­i­tiv­ity.

In the year ahead, 24 per cent of beef pro­duc­ers na­tion­ally planned to ex­pand their en­ter­prises (with 14 per cent to de­crease).

“The cat­tle out­look is very strong and pro­duc­ers are seek­ing to cap­i­talise on this, though there is still some fo­cus on bal­ance sheet re­pair where gra­ziers are re­cov­er­ing from drought, so we could see even stronger in­vest­ment plans if we get an­other solid sea­son,” he said.

The most in­ter­est­ing find­ing for Mr McGowan was a stronger per­cent­age of farm­ers in­vest­ing in in­no­va­tion.

Agri In­sights found one third of Queens­land pro­duc­ers were look­ing to in­crease in­vest­ment in tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion in the com­ing year, com­pared with only 24 per cent this time last year.

Just four per cent of Queens­land farm­ers planned to de­crease their in­vest­ment in tech and in­no­va­tion. The main driver for this in­creased in­vest­ment is a de­sire for the lat­est tech (39 per cent) closely fol­lowed by po­ten­tial im­prove­ments in pro­duc­tiv­ity and ef­fi­ciency (34 per cent).

“Queens­land pro­duc­ers are look­ing to the fu­ture of their busi­nesses and the in­dus­try,” he said.

“We’ve spo­ken to live­stock breed­ers who tell us that they’re look­ing at tech and in­no­va­tion to im­prove breed­ing pro­duc­tion rates, and pro­duc­ers who are in­stalling hy­draulic crushes, so­lar pan­els and re­mote mon­i­tor­ing. There’s a lot hap­pen­ing in the agri in­no­va­tion space.

“Right now we’re talk­ing to a lot of pro­duc­ers who are in­vest­ing in en­ergy ef­ficient ma­chin­ery and equip­ment as they work to con­tain costs and drive ef­fi­ciency.

“In fact, Com­mBank has seen more farm­ers in Queens­land than any­where else take up en­ergy ef­ficient fi­nanc­ing, which is un­sur­pris­ing as pro­duc­ers in the state have al­ways been early adopters.”

While beef and live­stock more gen­er­ally looks promis­ing, chal­leng­ing sea­sonal con­di­tions at the time of the sur­vey im­pacted grains in­ten­tions, with 20 per cent of Aus­tralian grow­ers say­ing they planned to re­duce their op­er­a­tions, while 13 per cent looked to ex­pand.

“This year’s win­ter crop was patchy and over­all well down on last year, although rain has brought with it a re­vised out­look for sum­mer crop,” Mr McGowan said.

“Broadly, though, with live­stock de­mand­ing high prices and of­fer­ing more pro­duc­tion flex­i­bil­ity, we are see­ing some eas­ing in grain in­ten­tions.”

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