Household consumption trends resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to a positive outlook for the agricultural industry in the latest ABARES forecast.
According to the report’s overview, the gross value of the nation’s agricultural production is set to hit a record $66 billion for the 2020/21 year.
Bundaberg Regional Council Economic development officer Rolfe Ellem said there was no doubt the industry had experienced some shocks throughout the pandemic, particularly in relation to labour supply.
But after combing through the ABARES March quarter 2021 ‘Agricultural forecasts and Outlook’, he said there was “reason to be positive”.
“People are preparing food at home using fresh produce which contributes to solid demand,” Rolfe said.
“This means production constraints due to labour supply issues will be somewhat offset by price increases for horticultural produce in the latter part of 2020-21.
“The resumption and expansion of temporary migration programs can only improve the outlook.”
He said labour shortages were also prompting growers to find innovative solutions in technology, another positive sign for the Bundaberg Region which is already well placed to lead in the AgTech sector.
“Current shocks may also prompt horticultural producers to take a closer look at efficiencies and search for new practices and equipment to improve their margins.
“This could make producers stronger in the long term.
“Ultimately the ABARES report is very positive regarding horticulture and sees the sector expanding to 21% of the gross value of Australian agricultural production by 2025-26.”
Well known for its diverse range of fruit and vegetable production, Rolfe said it was important not to underestimate the significance of the region’s livestock sector.
“Grazing is the largest agricultural enterprise by land area in the region and, in terms of production value, livestock runs a very close second to fruit and nut production.
“It is great to see buoyant cattle price predictions for the rest of 2021, and positive news for exports beyond 2021.
“In general, the Bundaberg region continues to be well served by a diverse agricultural sector, let’s hope irrigation water supply issues don’t dampen opportunities.”