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Mapping a course for agriculture's future

KEY AREAS: The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics has identified transport infrastructure and biosecurity as key factors as Australia aims to meet growing world food demand.
KEY AREAS: The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics has identified transport infrastructure and biosecurity as key factors as Australia aims to meet growing world food demand.

RESILIENT infrastructure and biosecurity systems are two of the key ingredients needed if Australia is to meet its potential as a global food supplier heading to 2050, a report released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics this week has found.

In its report, Infrastructure and Australia's food industry: Preliminary economic assessment, ABARES said ensuring infrastructure and biosecurity systems could support a growing food industry, moving food cost-effectively and efficiently to markets and supporting new export opportunities were the keys to realising growth opportunities.

The report identified wheat, sugar, beef, sheep meat and dairy as key agricultural commodities, but there would be pressure on the infrastructure supporting these supply chains.

"The road network is of particular importance to food supply chains and as production and exports expand, it will become increasingly important that issues affecting performance be addressed," it said.

It said, for example, expansion of the northern beef industry would need to be supported by "large infrastructure investments" and substantial increases in dairy production would need investment in irrigation, on and off-farm.

Provision of pricing key food infrastructure was another consideration.

It suggested assessing impediments to investment in infrastructure, including "the private provision of infrastructure, and identify policy response options that would support growth in Australia's domestic an international food supply chains".

"A regional analysis of the expected growth in total demand for infrastructure is likely to be required to identify potential issues effectively," it said.

Further research is likely to analyse food supply chain issues, pricing and provision of key food infrastructure services and integrated modelling from ABARES and the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, as well as examination of the experience in other OECD countries, where considered appropriate.

Topics:  agricultural exports asian century biosecurity exports infrastructure