Australia is poised to grow its commercial agriculture sector to almost four times its annual capacity, but the government is taking steps to boost its agricultural production, including boosting subsidies.
Key points:The government is boosting subsidies to boost commercial agriculture’s share of the Australian economyThe Government is also investing $15bn in the sector to support the industryThe boost is due to boost the economy by as much as $10bn, but farmers say it is not enoughTo the surprise of many, the Government is boosting the commercial sector’s share in the Australian agriculture market.
Commercial agriculture accounts for nearly 20 per cent of Australia’s GDP, making it the second largest agricultural sector in terms of gross domestic product after mining.
The government announced last month it was increasing subsidies for the sector from $15,000 per hectare to $25,000.
The change was made after the Australian Agricultural Marketing Association (AAMMA) called for a stronger commitment from the Government to support commercial farming, following an earlier announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that the Government was looking at increasing its support to the sector.
“There is a very real opportunity for commercial agriculture to be able to expand its presence in Australia,” said Julie Gifford, the chief executive of the AAMMA.
“But we need to be clear about what the Government means by commercial agriculture, what it means for the Australian public, and what the Australian Government’s intentions are in terms to support it.”
Commercial farming has been growing steadily in recent years, and the sector’s growth is due largely to increased demand from the fast-growing Chinese market, which is expected to account for almost one-third of the country’s agricultural exports in the next five years.
The PMO said the Government would be investing in commercial agriculture as it worked towards its 2030 target of producing 1.3 million tonnes of agricultural products annually by 2050.
“As we look to 2050, commercial agriculture is poised for an even bigger contribution to our economic future,” said Ms Giffard.
“Commercial agriculture has been a big part of the national economic plan for many years and we have a lot to do with that.”
The government said it was also investing up to $15 billion over the next three years in commercial farming.
“In order to achieve this growth in commercial production, the government will be increasing the value of agricultural subsidies,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture said.
“Specifically, the Agriculture Innovation Fund is investing in more than 200 projects in commercial farmers across the country, including up to a $15 million investment to develop a new crop rotation technology.”
The increase in subsidies will be rolled out over the coming months and is expected as the Government moves to boost industrial production.
“We have to be careful to balance the need for farmers to be supported with the need to grow and maintain our national economy,” Ms Gafford said.
“There’s a lot of work to be done to get to that.”