Agriculture – a $100b sector by 2030?

30.08.19

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has put Australia’s agriculture sector on notice by setting an ambitious farm gate production target of $100 billion by 2030, a 66% increase from current production value of approximately $60 billion. While we have a lot to be proud of, with agriculture being Australia’s fastest-growing sector, Australia’s recent fall in rankings in key global innovation and agtech indicators shows we can’t afford to be complacent.

The target has proven instrumental in kick-starting a national dialogue on the support needed across the system to enable Australia’s rural industries to reach their full potential.

In striving towards accelerated sector growth and the NFFs’ target, nine Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) commissioned ACIL Allen Consulting to unpack the drivers of change and risk, and map those against priority investment areas.

The research project, Agriculture – a $100b sector by 2030, evaluated the current trajectory of Australia’s food and fibre industries and then identified pathways to achieve accelerated growth.

The work determined that the sector requires a growth rate of 3% year-on-year to reach the $100 billion target–double the current trend. ACIL Allen Consulting also established a baseline projection which estimated a farm gate value of $84.3 billion by 2030, $15.7 billion below the NFF target.

The report advocated that delivering step change is key to driving the sector forward, rather than relying on small productivity gains and a culture of ‘learning to do things better’.

It suggested RDCs need to think outside the square and explore opportunities such as emerging industries and new technologies to help fill the value gap and drive real growth for the sector.

The analysis highlighted the positive impact that adoption of research and development, and transformative technologies has had on accelerating productivity gains over the last 20-30 years. However, it also cautioned that these gains had already been factored into the baseline projection.

Looming risks around climate variability, water, biosecurity, regulation and consumers, suggests the sector is in for a bumpy ride as it nears the 2030 target deadline.

John Harvey, AgriFutures Australia Managing Director said the NFF should be congratulated for ‘rallying the troops’ and kick-starting the conversation on how the sector can better deliver impact to shift the needle on sector growth.

“The report findings should be viewed as a blueprint for RDCs and others to prioritise and inform investment decisions. AgriFutures Australia is working closely with the RDCs and the NFF to ensure we achieve alignment in priority investment and action areas.”

Mr Harvey added that while the sector had invested heavily in technology development and adoption over many years, the report confirmed that it continues to be a significant driver for growth towards the 2030 target.

“While technology often dominates the discussion, other critical growth pathways identified in the report include off farm R&D and infrastructure as well as market access,” said Mr Harvey.

Drivers alone will not guarantee sustained farm performance. The report pointed to the sector’s ability to mitigate risks as being equally important in limiting the consequences on sector growth. Four risks identified were: climate and water, biosecurity, regulation and consumers.

“We now have information on the areas of opportunity and risk likely to drive sector growth, and an idea of the areas of investment needed. Now the conversation must shift to how we address these challenges and what we can collectively do about it,” said Mr Harvey.

AgriFutures Australia Senior Manager Business Development, Jennifer Medway

said the RDCs were focused on recommendations for change from the report.

“We know we need to change and do something different to achieve step change. This report highlights pathways and disruptions that sharpen our focus to achieve that change.

“AgriFutures Australia’s unique mandate to spot emerging industries and pursue new opportunities ensures we need to not only work across the system but also look within our organisation to ensure we are targeting investments that support the effort to build sector growth.

“AgriFutures Australia has a responsibility to levy payers and the wider agricultural value chain to push for greater impact to support the NFF’s target and help industries realise their full potential,” said Ms Medway.

*This report was led by AgriFutures Australia in partnership with Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Australian Wool Innovation, Wine Australia, Dairy Australia, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Australian Pork Limited and Sugar Research Australia.

Visit agrifutures.com.au/100b_sector_2030 to download the report.

Lauren Sharkey, AgriFutures Australia, Manager, Communications & Capacity Building

lauren.sharkey@agrifutures.com.au | 02 6923 6916 | 0409 966 182