Favourable growing conditions and strong commodity prices helped Australian agriculture to a new record of more than $71 billion in farm gate value in 2020-21, a 17% increase according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The ABS reported that the value of wheat doubled while production increased by 120%, netting $9.9 billion. Barley performed above average with a 24% price increase and 45% yield increase to $3.7 billion and the value of canola increased by 114% to $2.9 billion.
“Many farmers reported crop yields being at ‘once in a lifetime’ levels, with records broken in many regions for key commodities,” said Amanda Clark, Program Manager of Agriculture Statistics at the ABS.
Drought breaking rainfall helped to restore conditions for irrigated croppers with cotton climbing by a staggering 451.300 tonnes to 566,00 tonnes with an increase of $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion.
The value of livestock sales fell by 6% with declines in wool (down 4% to $2.6 billion) and milk (down 3% to $4.7 billion), but offset by strong gains from eggs which increased in value by 28% to $1.1 billion.
The dip in livestock values is largely tied up with favourable growing conditions which encouraged many growers to increase herd sizes given the additional feed availability. The national cattle herd increased by 4% to 22.1 miillion head and the sheep flock grew by 7% to 68.1 million head.
Of Australia’s 387 million hectares of land, 332 million hectares are grazed while just 32 million hectares are used for cropping.
Outlook Maintains Momentum
Released last month, Rural Bank’s outlook report predicts that the positive momentum will continue this financial year with wet conditions providing a solid start to the growing season.
“It’s a good outlook and quite positive, and it’s great to see this three years in a row for our producers … where we’ve had good conditions across both the seasons and commodity prices,” said Rural Bank’s Andrew Smith.
The overall forecast predicts an above average winter crop yield and will help livestock farmers to continue rebuilding herd numbers, with strong international interest helping to sustain values.
“We’ve been growing pretty strongly our lamb exports into the US for the last couple of years, but this last 12 months we’ve seen markets like the UAE, South Korea, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia increasing as well,” said Mr Smith.
Similarly the new Australia-India economic cooperation and trade agreement will boost export opportunities for almond, wool, lentil and wine grape growers, providing a sniff of relief for the wine industry suffering the effects of China’s stifling tariffs.
Lobster and barley are other commodities on China’s black list, although Asian demand for Australian grains has increased on the back of supply issues caused by Russia-Ukraine conflict.