Copyright 2019 © Cecilia Moar - Authorised by Cecilia Moar, Horsham, Victoria

FOOD AND FIBRE PRODUCTION

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"The future pillar of rural economic development"

Australia is a trading nation which means that our markets and our livelihood are driven by what happens beyond our shores. Despite the headlines, if we look at the facts, we see a world that’s getting better. Compare today to the way things were a decade or a century ago.

In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has almost halved (which is extraordinary). The number of deaths per year from natural disasters has decreased to less than half over the last hundred years. The growing wealth of consumers in Asia has been the game-changer for primary producers in Australia since China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001.

As income levels rise, diet shifts from carbohydrates to protein. As a result, we’ve seen an increase in the unit value of production. Primary producers in Australia have made the transition from a bulk commodity sector in the 70s and 80s where for example, our main beef exports were mixed beef to the US, to one now where the growth in value is growth in Wagyu exports to discerning consumers in China and Japan.

 

We have a positive story to tell about our environmental and animal welfare achievements, and we need to share that message regularly and effectively. Farmers and small business are adapting to a changing climate and changing community attitudes and food preferences. Consumer preferences will continue to evolve. Consumers want our producers to respect the welfare of animals and our product produced sustainably and ethically. As the population is growing more health conscious, we can meet their needs.

Industry leaders and policymakers can work collaboratively to anticipate change and work with those in the sector who are not moving sufficiently quickly to accommodate growing opposition to outdated practices. Australia can lead the way in promoting sustainable food and fibre production and distribution practice. For example, the Red Meat sector has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030. Agricultural production can look forward to a modern, efficient and high tech sector using the latest and best innovation based on the best research.

Agtech has the potential to become the future pillar of rural economic development. Robotics, automation and emerging technologies form the basis of the future of Australian
horticulture and agriculture.