Australian farmers’ contribution to the nation’s wealth through export earnings is increasing at a time when other commodities are on the wane, demonstrating just how vital farming is to the future of the nation
Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce says the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show a 7 per cent increase in the value of rural exports in 2014-15, on the back of a 9.7 per cent increase in 2013-14.
“Rural goods contributed $43 billion in exports in 2014-15 at a time when the value of all goods and services decreased by 4 per cent,” Joyce says.
“These results are a strong vote of confidence from international markets in Australian farmers and the produce they grow and demonstrate just how critical free trade deals such as the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement will be for our entire farm sector.”
The minister says the opposition is “recklessly sabotaging” the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), putting future Australian exports and jobs in jeopardy.
“China’s imports of agricultural, food and fisheries products grew by another US$3 billion [A$4.3 billion] to almost US$119 billion [A$171.4 billion] in 2014.
“Australian farmers are already realizing significant benefits since ratification of our FTAs with Japan and Korea, and ChAFTA will be vital in helping to drive better profits back through the farmgate to keep farmers engaged and the sector attractive into the future.
“According to ABS figures 2014-15 saw a 41 per cent increase in the value of beef and veal exports, from $6.27 billion in 2013-14 to $8.86 billion.
“And we’ve seen similar increases over the financial year in live cattle, up 47 per cent in value to $1.15 billion; live sheep up 32 per cent to $244 million; horticulture products up 11 per cent to $2.06 billion; and wool up 10 per cent to $3.16 billion.”
But not all earnings rose.
Joyce says wheat, barley and canola export earnings were down in 2014-15 because of the ongoing drought in the eastern states and international market conditions.
He says the Coalition Government is “firmly focused” on maintaining, improving and increasing market access for Australian farmers.
Three free trade agreements have been signed with China, Korea and Japan and seven livestock markets for trade have been opened with China, Bahrain, Egypt, Thailand, Lebanon, Cambodia and Iran.
“The ABS figures show the value agriculture continues to provide to the Australian economy and highlights the importance of farm exports to the nation’s prosperity,” Joyce says.