Australia, with its vast open areas and diverse climates, produces a wide range of agricultural, fisheries and forestry products, and is internationally recognised as being free of many of the insects and agricultural diseases found in other parts of the world.
Australia’s location in the Southern Hemisphere also makes it aptly suited to supply counter-seasonal agri produce to overseas markets during their winter months.
80% of all agricultural produce in Australia is exported. Subsidisation to the Australian agricultural industries is very low, although relief is provided in exceptional circumstances such as droughts.
Major agri crops and allied industries of Australia:
Cereals, oilseeds and grain legumes are produced on a large scale for human consumption and livestock feed. Wheat has the greatest production area and value to the Australian economy.
Australia’s warm climate and clean environment produces some of the world’s best grains.
Export grains include wheat, rice, barley, maize, oats, sunflowers, chick peas and cotton seed.
Sugar is one of Australia’s largest export crop. Markets for sugar include Canada, Korea, Malaysia, Japan and the USA.
Horticulture produces a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, nuts, nursery products and cut flowers.
Major horticultural products include grapes, macadamias, garden plants, cut flowers, potatoes, citrus fruits and apples.
The Australian wine industry is internationally renowned for its full-flavour quality wines.
The major export markets are the United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand, Canada and Germany.
This industry is one of Australia’s largest primary industries and accounts for 16 per cent of world dairy product exports and is ranked third in terms of world dairy trade.
The beef industry is the biggest agricultural enterprise in Australia, with over 60% of Australian production exported, primarily to the US.
Australia is free of diseases such as BSE and FMD and has strict quarantine proposals designed to ensure that a disease-free status is maintained.
Australia’s fisheries operate in one of the world’s cleanest environments.
Australia’s major markets for edible fisheries product is Japan, Hong Kong and the United States.
Australia is a world leader in the production of high quality wool and is also the largest supplier of wool, producing about 42 percent of the world’s greasy wool.
Agriculture Advancing Australia (AAA):
This is an integrated package of Australian Government programmes to help primary producers in agriculture, fishing and forestry be more competitive, sustainable and profitable.
AAA programme benefits include:
- support for industries undergoing change
- financial management tools
- funding for professional advice, skills development
- assistance for agri based families in financial difficulty
- improved access to markets
Challenges to the future of Australian agriculture:
This includes developing sustainable water management strategies for a drought prone environment, combating dryland salinity, and the decision about genetically modified foods. Domestically, some commodities are facing increased competition from imports.
Future change in agricultural sector is inevitable:
There will continue to be changes in agricultural sector in future also.
One of the keys to successfully delivering future sustainability is seeking strategies that capitalise on the opportunities and minimise the costs, while ensuring benefits and costs are shared across the whole community and across generations.