Queensland’s Agricultural Context
The Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture, and Fisheries (DAF) is determined to double the value of industry production by 2040 and is committed to increasing the amount that agribusiness contributes to the economy by growing agriculture as one of the four pillars of the Queensland economic landspace.
In June 2014, DAF issued the State of Queensland Agriculture Report in response to a clear call from Queensland’s agricultural sectors for more data to be made available to assist with making investment decisions and planning for the future. Doubling agricultural production by 2040 is a necessary challenge, one with a vision to create an efficient, innovative, resilient and profitable industry, which also aims to address the issues of resource availability, productivity, markets and production costs. Queensland has plentiful resources and is ideally situated to supply domestic markets and also tap into rapidly demanding markets in Asia. To achieve these goals, there is a high demand for new technology and products allowing for higher yields, more efficient production and processing as well as seamless communication and supply chains.
Queensland covers more than 173 million hectares of land, and has the highest proportion of land area dedicated to agriculture – almost 144 million hectares. An increasingly diverse, export-orientated industry, the State agribusiness environment encompasses livestock industries – representing almost 50 per cent of Australia’s total Gross Value of Production (GVP) each year, horticulture, lifestyle horticulture (including turf and cut flowers) and broadacre crops such as sugar cane and pulses, among other sectors.
For 2015–16, the total value of Queensland’s primary industry commodities (combined GVP and firststage processing) is forecast to be $16.88 billion, 12 per cent higher than 2014–15 and 13 per cent higher than the average for the past 5 years. Moreover, the GVP of Queensland’s primary industry commodities at the ‘farm gate’ is forecast to be almost $13.33 billion, 12 per cent higher than 2014–15 and 13 per cent higher than the average for the past 5 years.
A number of other livestock produce contributed significantly to Queensland’s economy, with poultry meat worth an estimated AU$610 million in 2015-2016, animal products such as milk worth AU$222 million and eggs worth AU$193 million. The State’s vegetable production is estimated to be worth AU$1.22 billion and its fruit production worth AU$1.63 billion. Queensland has the third largest value of production for broadacre cropping as a whole in Australia. It produces 61 per cent of the country’s sorghum, and is the largest producer of sugar cane – a crop estimated to be worth AU$988 million in 2015-2016.
In November 2015, more than 80 per cent of Queensland was drought-declared, and this has impacted summer grain crops and the beef industry, with revisions reflected in GVP. In light of this, the Queensland Government has committed $52.1 million of the department’s $438 million budget for drought relief for primary producers and rural communities.
On the other hand, by world standards, Queensland’s rainfall is quite variable as recent years have indicated. In 2011 – 2012 Queensland experienced cyclones and flooding which had a physical and economic impact on the agricultural industry. In the wake of this impact, special attention is being given to promoting research and development as well as preserving the State’s resources – including the development of more accurate and timely rainfall outlooks linked to agricultural production cycles, to ensure that the industry recovers from, and is resilient to, natural disasters and continues to prosper.
The Queensland Government continues to address the State’s issues of resource availability and productivity by investing in a research development and extension plan (RD&E); as well as additional and optimised strategies to use, and increase access and reliability of, critical resources including land, water, labour and capital investment. Moreover, facilitating the development and adoption of innovation across the agricultural supply chain will boost workplace capability and the uptake of best practice techniques, ensuring that Queensland agribusinesses make the most efficient use of agricultural byproducts and maximise revenue from production. A more efficient use of resources will also lead to lowered production costs.
The Queensland Government is also committed to reducing production costs for farmers by minimising regulatory constraints – such as the logistics and “red tape” around supplying markets – and again, promoting effective use of resources and improved infrastructure through best practice guidance, as well as increased biosecurity against pests. Another way to ensure that Australian production costs do not negatively impact the profitability of the industry is by capitalising on wealthier and more discerning consumers who value sustainable, ethical and safe products – and subsequently boost demand for organic produce.