The Raging Bull – Agriculture taking the economy by storm
With Barnaby at the helm, Australian agriculture continues to boom, with the industry rampaging to record growth and value. Now worth close to $70 billion per year to GDP, Australia is no longer the country riding on the sheep’s back – we’re riding the entire agriculture sector and safeguarding the nation from recession.
Agriculture is the largest contributor to GDP growth, accounting for nearly a quarter of all GDP growth and growing 15 per cent in the 12 months to the March 2017 quarter.
Gross value farm production is now a staggering $62.8 billion, up $14 billion from 2015-16 figures.
Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce has heralded the results as evidence of a new golden-age for agriculture.
“Agriculture is a central pillar of the Australian economy and the Nationals and Liberals in Government will continue to roll out pragmatic and effective policies and programs to support its growth. The Agricultural sector grew 15 per cent in a year – no other sector was within cooee of agriculture,” he said.
“The Nationals and Liberals have a real vision for Australia’s agriculture sector and from day one we have delivered genuine investment to turn the show around and transform agriculture in this Nation.”
When Barnaby took back the Agriculture and Water portfolios from the disastrous tenure of Joel Fitzgibbon in 2013, he found the department its budget slashed, biosecurity funding cut to the bone and despondent farmers around Australia who felt abandoned by a Labor government without policies, care or even a passing interest in their livelihoods.
The impact of Labor Government on agriculture is something Barnaby is keenly aware of.
“I hate to think what the state of agriculture and support for our farmers would be under Labor, I don’t think they even have an agricultural policy – they have nothing to say on the subject.”
Thanks to Barnaby, a $4 billion Regional Investment Corporation has been established, a record investment into jobs for the sector. The $2.5 billion water infrastructure program is underway, building the water infrastructure farmers need for the future and upgrading redundant and wasteful bores and causeways. The multi-million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund opened in February this year, which will build dams, weirs and world leading irrigation facilities. This includes the $130 million Rookwood Weir near Rockhampton – a place Labor can’t place on a map – which will transform the region by delivering 2000 jobs and developing $1 billion in production.
Biosecurity – a vital safeguard for our ag-industries – is back in the Budget, including $5 million for wild dog fences, an extension of the Bee Surveillance Program, $10.5 million in pilot pest programs, and the $50 million established Pest Animals and Weeds Initiative. These programs complement the NSW Government’s significant pest and biosecurity changes which will ensure our farmers continue to have the cleanest crops and livestock in the world.
“The unprecedented investment we are making in biosecurity, reaching $752.7 million in 2017-18 works in tandem with the new federal legislation the Government has delivered,” Barnaby said.
The Nationals and Liberals are also taking care of our farmer's bottom lines when times are tough and ensuring the environment is not left behind, extending the Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme and guaranteeing $1 billion for Landcare as part of the 2017-18 Budget.
It is not just the traditional crops and commodities (which are worth $10 billion each in exports each year) driving the growth in agriculture. Newer crops like pulses, wine, nuts, and citrus are exceeding growth expectations, with young farmers driving these newer crops into growing markets such as South East Asia. Dairy continues to grow despite recent challenges in the industry with exports – driven by a dairy-hungry China – predicted to reach $3.2 billion in 2017.
“Our pulse exports were worth over $3 billion, wine exports $2.4 billion, nuts $822 million and citrus over $330 million,” Barnaby said.
“Australia has seen great growth in produce to markets such as India. India is going nuts for Australia’s nuts with the value of almond exports up over 50 per cent for the first half of 2017. Chickpea exports to India increased by almost 90 per cent in 2016-17 to a record value of $1.1 billion.”
Barnaby has noted our strong growth has seen China overtake the US as our most valuable market for wine for the first time ever. Wine exports to China totalled $596 million in 2016–17, a 43 per cent increase on the previous year.
“Through the Coalition’s $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper we have been working to create a better business environment for farmers, and to build the infrastructure needed to support continued growth—through a whole raft of policies, which our agriculture sector is responding to with enthusiasm.
“These policies and investments have provided a solid foundation for growth, and it is great to see how effectively Aussie farmers are capitalising on the opportunities on offer to increase production and exports.”
Constantly innovating, Australia is on the front foot growing crops never seen here before such as truffles, an ever-expanding poppy industry now established on the mainland and quinoa trials flourishing around the country.
With the Nats safeguarding our farmers, the sector will continue to go from strength-to-strength. Next time you see a farmer shake their hand, and thank them for bringing home the bacon for the Nation.