Find Agriculture expertise in Australia
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries makes up 2% of Australia’s GDP (2010). Even with this modest contribution to the economy, the country has a significant agricultural exportation. The sector employed 3.3% of the total workforce in 2009, having fallen from 4.4% since 2002. In 2010-11 around 307,000 people were employed, supporting over 1.6 million jobs if the complete agricultural supply chain is considered. There are approximately 134,000 farm businesses in the country, of which 99% are family owned, commercial operations.
Only 6% of Australia’s land is suitable for crops and pasture. However, 60% of the land is used for cattle grazing. The main agricultural crops grown are wheat, coarse grains (barley, oats, sorghum, maize and triticale), rice, oilseeds (canola, sunflowers, soybeans and peanuts), grain legumes (lupines and chickpeas), sugarcane, cotton, fruits, grapes, tobacco and vegetables. The main livestock production is in sheep (wool and lamb), beef, pork, poultry and dairy products. Exports account for over 90% of wool and cotton production, nearly 80% of wheat, over 50% of barley and rice, over 40% of beef and grain legumes, over 30% of dairy products, and nearly 20% of fruit production (2010). The most lucrative product in the country is beef, generating AUS$6bn in 2010, retaining Australia’s position as the second largest beef exporter in the world, despite the small-scale production. The major export markets for beef and veal are Japan (37%), the United States (17%) and Korea (15%). Dairy products are largely exported to Japan, China and Singapore. Australia is the largest exporter in the world of both goat meat and live goats, primarily to Taiwan, the Middle East and Malaysia. This reflects the general trend over the past 20 years with a shift in emphasis from European to Asian markets. The government agency responsible for agriculture is the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (2012-13) placed Australia 19th in the world (out of 144 countries) in terms agricultural policy costs, with a value of 4.6 out of 7, above the world mean of 3.9.
Up until June 2012 the government was operating a programme on Australia’s farming future, largely providing funding to help primary producers to adapt and respond to climate change. This incorporated both research into the potential impact of climate change, practical help to develop skills and training to deal with the impact, and financial support to aid farms to adapt to changing circumstances. Indeed Australian farmers are at the forefront of delivering environmental outcomes on behalf of the nation, with 94% of Australian farmers actively undertaking natural resource management.
There is expected to be a continuing focus on Asian export markets, as income growth in places such as China and other ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries increase demand for agricultural products.