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Smarter approach to drought among changes needed for ag to reach $100 billion

5 March 2019

National Farmers' Federation Chief Executive Tony Mahar says agriculture requires a comprehensive national drought policy if it is to reach its $100 billion potential by 2030.

The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) today released farm productivity figures of $58 billion for 2018-2019, down from $59 billion in 2017-2018.

"The decline in farm gate output was expected given the impact of drought on production across large parts of eastern Australia," Mr Mahar said.

"Many livestock producers have destocked considerably and grain producers are facing another year without a winter crop. The higher cost of inputs including water and grain is also biting."

The NFF is supported by industry, the Government and Federal Opposition, in its goal for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry by 2030.

"It's a bold target and one that, as ABARES' figures reveal today, won't come easily.

"Despite a decline in value for 2018-2019, agriculture is on a trajectory of growth. If we were to retain the status quo agriculture would only reach $88 billion by 2030."

The NFF's 2030 Roadmap outlines the change needed to accelerate food and fibre production to $100 billion."

Mr Mahar said a key Roadmap 'action' was the development of a new comprehensive national drought policy.

"Drought is a constant in the Australian farm landscape and while we can't eradicate it, we can as a country, be smarter in the way we prepare for, manage and recover from drought."

Mr Mahar said a modern all-of-Government drought policy must aim to create conditions where, when drought breaks, farmers are able to return to pre-drought production as quickly as possible.

"To achieve this we need to strike the balance between tried and true assistance measures and innovative new approaches to how farmers can, for example, access finance, manage their natural resources, and mitigate risk.

"The NFF will continue to work with Government and industry to get the balance right."

The 2030 Roadmap also identifies enhancements to agriculture's research and development environment including increased public and private investment and collaboration and clear extension and commercialisation pathways.

"We welcome the release of the 'Agriculture Innovation System Vision' report Commissioned by the Minster for Agriculture and Water and developed by EY," Mr Mahar said.

"Innovation, whether it's the adoption of new digital or biological technologies or a smarter approach to drought, will be at the heart of agriculture's accelerated success.

"We look forward to working with Government and the rural innovation community on how we can best leverage further results from a world class, efficient and effective research and development regime."

Media Enquiries: Laureta Wallace
P: 0408 448 250
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