PM bullish about farming production growth

Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared Australian agricultural production can reach $100 billion by 2030 despite drought and trade tensions hampering the latest forecast.

The National Farmers’ Federation has set the ambitious goal, with total production expected to be $59 billion in 2019/20.

“That’s 50 per cent more than a decade ago, even though we’ve been in drought for much of that time and even though trade tensions have impacted the value of our exports in the past year,” Mr Morrison said.

That’s slightly down from the previous year’s total of $60 billion across agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

In official speech notes from the NFF’s 40th anniversary gala dinner, Mr Morrison backed the lofty target.

“This is a bold vision. But it’s an achievable one,” he said.

The prime minister said the government’s efforts in tackling drought, advancing major trade agreements, building water infrastructure and investing in research and development would be key to hitting the target.

The world’s population is expected to be 9.7 billion by 2050 and global demand for food is expected to rise by 54 per cent between now and then.

“Much of this growth will come from Asia where the rising middle classes are seeking quality food,” Mr Morrison said.

“Australian agriculture is well placed to meet this demand.”

Mr Morrison said a trade deal with the European Union currently under negotiation would secure greater access for Australian exports to a $17 trillion market.

“It would make a big contribution to the agriculture sector reaching its $100 billion goal by 2030,” he said.

He said trade deals with China, Japan and Korea had opened large markets, while the government wanted to ratify a deal with Indonesia.

“This would lower tariffs for producers of grains, beef, dairy and horticulture.”

The NFF have consistently called for the government to develop national drought and energy policies to help the sector reach its $100 billion goal.

But Mr Morrison defended the coalition’s drought strategy which he says is built on immediate action, support for rural communities and long-term preparedness.

“No drought response plan can make it rain. Nor can any drought response make life as it was when the rain used to fall,” he said.

“Droughts are hard and take an enormous toll, as this drought continues to.

“Our job is to seek to support, sustain and build resilience in the face of this awful drought.”

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