Page 11 - April 2018
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Five ingredients for a thriving agricultural sector
FIVE key challenges will be central to Aus- tralian agriculture’s continued success, ac- cording to ABARES executive director Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds.
Speaking at the Outlook 2018 Conference in Can- berra recently, he listed the five key areas that will have a major impact on the sector’s future.
“While agriculture has been a consistently strong performer, there are five key areas we can’t ig- nore,” Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.
“They are the com- petitiveness race, Asia’s re-emergence, evolving consumer preferences, re- source scarcity and climate variability and change.
“Each of the five bring both opportunities and threats, disrupting the status quo.
“Competitiveness is central.
“Australia has main- tained our productiv- ity relative to other ad- vanced economies, but we are losing ground to emerging major produc- ers such as Brazil and China.
“We will need to inno- vate, do more with less, and unlock new sources of value to ensure our continued success.
Dr Hatfield-Dodds said the rise of Asia is unstop- pable.
“Over the next 35 years the number of people liv- ing in high-income coun- tries will triple, driven largely by Asia,” he said.
“Our agricultural, for- estry and fishery exports to Asia have increased by $13 billion over recent years, and we need to continue to seek trade op- portunities and get a pre- mium price for premium produce.
“Understanding the
consumer of the future will be vital, both to help target our export offer- ings and to protect Aus- tralia’s reputation.
“It will be important to lean in and engage, rather than letting others shape the agenda.
“Efficient management of scarce natural resourc- es such as land and wa- ter will be increasingly important as the world becomes richer and more crowded.
“New ABARES re- search shows we are man- aging our water well over wet and dry years, and moving water to higher value use over time – this will have to continue.”
Dr Hatfield-Dodds said climate has always been a factor in Australian farm- ing, and all the evidence suggests our climate is becoming more variable.
“The evolution of glob- al and national policy
settings – particularly around carbon sinks – is likely to offer new oppor- tunities, but these forces may also disrupt.
“Australia’s agricultural sector has been a strong performer in recent years – the gross value of agri- cultural production has increased steadily over the past decade, and fur- ther rises are expected.
“Agricultural exports are expected to rise to nearly $50 billion in 2022-23, having already grown by more than $5 billion over the past five years – accounting for more than 90 percent of the increase in output in that time.
“Maintaining the status quo is not an option.
“How we respond to these challenges and op- portunities will shape the future of Australian agri- culture.”
Late boost to winter crop production
FAVOURABLE seasonal conditions in spring and early summer have result- ed in the 2017-18 winter crop harvest exceeding expectations in some key growing regions of West- ern Australia, Victoria and South Australia.
ABARES executive di- rector Dr Steve Hatfield- Dodds said in contrast, production in Queensland and NSW is likely to be lower than the December 2017 ABARES crop fore- cast.
“Total winter crop pro- duction is estimated to have decreased by 36 per- cent to 37.8 million tonnes in 2017-18, but with the late-season boost to pro- duction it looks likely to remain 6 percent above the 10-year average to 2015-16,” Dr Hatfield- Dodds said.
“For the major crops overall, wheat production
is estimated to have de- creased by 38 percent to 21.2 million tonnes, barley by 33 percent to 8.9 mil- lion tonnes and canola by 15 percent to 3.7 million tonnes.
“Among other crops, chickpea production is es- timated to have decreased by 49 percent to one mil- lion tonnes, and oats pro- duction by 40 percent to 1.1 million tonnes.”
Below-average rainfall and above-average tem- peratures over summer have dented expectations for dryland crop produc- tion in 2017-18.
“Unfavourable condi- tions through the hot- test months of the year prompted farmers to re- consider their crop plant- ing strategies, which will result in less dryland crop area than anticipated and lower yields,” Dr Hatfield- Dodds said.
“The area planted to cot- ton in 2017-18 fell by about 10 percent to 500,000ha, while the area planted to rice is estimated to have decreased by 2 percent to 80,000ha.
“Around 501,000ha have been dedicated to grain sorghum plantings over summer – an increase of 26 percent on the 2016-17 figure.
“Grain sorghum produc- tion is forecast to increase by 44 percent to about 1.5 million tonnes.
“Planting of summer crops is now largely com- plete, and planted area is estimated to have in- creased by 2 percent to 1.3 million ha.
“Summer crop produc- tion is forecast to increase by 12 percent in 2017-18 to about 4.3 million tonnes.”
See the full February crop report at agriculture.
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Young piggery leading
the way in animal
health management
AN innovative piggery in Young, NSW, is lead- ing the way in reducing antibiotics use without compromising the health and productivity of its stock.
Australia’s Chief Vet- erinary Officer Dr Mark Schipp visited the 2000- sow farm and said the pig- gery is a model for other producers to follow.
“Inappropriate use of antibiotic treatment can lead to strains of bacteria emerging that don’t re- spond to current antibiotic treatment – this is known as antimicrobial resist- ance,” Dr Schipp said.
“Antimicrobial resist- ance is recognised as a growing threat to human and animal health, on a global scale, and by rais- ing awareness we are re- ducing the threat to ani- mal welfare, biosecurity and production.
“While Australia has one of the lowest levels of antibiotic use in animals, some use is required to maintain health and wel- fare.
“The threat of an an- tibiotic-resistant bacteria emerging is very real.”
Antimicrobial steward- ship is a collective set of strategies to improve the safe and appropriate use of antimicrobials and re- duce the incidence of an- timicrobial resistance.
“In Australia, both the human and animal health sectors are collaborating with food and agricultural industries to develop an- timicrobial stewardship
strategies,” Dr Schipp said.
“The piggery I visited has taken an approach to managing animal health through nutrition, bio- security measures and using vaccines to control infectious diseases in live- stock.
“This model has been duplicated in other parts of the world, demonstrat- ing that Australia is a world leader in innovative and practical animal man- agement strategies.”
AMR occurs when bac- teria, parasites, viruses or fungi adapt to protect themselves from the ef- fects of antimicrobial drugs designed to destroy them.
This means antimicrobi- al drugs (such as antibiot- ics) that were previously used to treat or prevent infections may no longer work.
The Department of Ag- riculture and Water Re- sources was involved in several activities for last year’s Antibiotic Aware- ness Week, including the launch of a single govern- ment website on AMR.
This website has been launched in collaboration with the Department of Health, the department’s partner in implementing the National Antimicro- bial Resistance Strategy 2015-2019.
For more information about AMR, visit the Australian Government’s Antimicrobial Resistance website
Young pig farmer Edwina Beveridge and Dr Mark Schipp.
Australian Pork Newspaper, March 2018 – Page 11

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