How the Australian Government is backing food production
Through a network of laws, funding and initiatives, the Australian Government is helping the country achieve ever-greater food security.
Severe drought conditions in eastern Australia followed by the onset of the global pandemic over the past two years have raised concerns about Australian food security. The Federal Government has been quick to respond however – putting out a raft of information outlining the strong position the industry is in.
Despite some shortages seen on supermarket shelves due to supply chain disruptions and unexpected surges in demand, the good news is that Australia is well placed to meet the needs of a growing population and to continue producing ample quantities for export markets.
According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Australia ranks among the most food secure nations in the world, alongside Canada, Germany, and France.
The food industry accounts for approximately 20 per cent of domestic manufacturing sales and services income. The vast majority of food sold in this country is grown and supplied by Australian farmers.
Recent announcements from the Federal Government have outlined a series of initiatives to further support food production and help producers expand into export markets.
Australia’s primary industries are expected to be worth $83.9 billion in 2021-22. Despite devastating drought, bushfires, floods, a pandemic and global trade disruptions, the agriculture industry grew by 25 per cent in 2020–21.
The third edition of the Federal Government’s Delivering Ag2030 was released in February 2022 and details the steps needed to be taken to meet the agricultural sector’s ambition to become a $100 billion industry by 2030.
It focuses on expanding trade opportunities, strengthening biosecurity systems, bolstering supply chains and implementing ways to improve the competitiveness and innovative capacity of the industry.
Accessing export markets
Australia currently exports more than half of our agricultural produce, with beef and wheat topping the list.
However, high tariffs can lock Australian exports out of markets, while some subsidies may unfairly distort production, trade, and prices in both domestic and global markets.
To help agribusinesses expand and diversify their export markets, an $85.9 million investment program, Agri-Business Expansion Initiative (ABEI), was announced in December 2020.
The ABEI is jointly delivered by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and Austrade, with industry collaboration.
It includes grants for market expansion, boosted in-country engagement activities, accelerated work on technical-market access, and greater collection and delivery of market intelligence to exporters. Austrade is responsible for a fifth element, which involves boosting business support services to assist more than 2,000 agri-food exporters each year.
In addition, a new legal framework for agricultural exports commenced on 28 March 2021. The Export Control Act 2020 is part of a wider initiative to strengthen Australia’s agricultural exports and market access and ‘make the laws more relevant, responsive and efficient, provide the same level of regulatory oversight, remove duplication, and ensure consistency across the commodities where possible’.
At a state and territory level, there are also many grant programs focused on helping Australia’s priority sectors bolster their resilience to future disruptions. Some funding is earmarked specifically for food and agribusiness ventures; some is for manufacturing ventures; still other grant programs and initiatives involve funding for research and development.