Agribusiness optimistic in 2013 amidst challenges

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High turnover despite increased costs and debt last year had the agribusiness sector believing in improvements this year, a recent survey has found.

Agribusiness optimistic in 2013 amidst challenges
Bentleys survey shows agribusiness optimistic in 2013

The business study was conducted by Bentleys Chartered Accountants involving 200 clients from a number of industries, regions and business sizes across Queensland, canvassing their thoughts on business in 2012 and projections for 2013.

Agribusiness customers had the highest representation among the respondents, taking up 25 per cent overall.

The survey has shown that 34 per cent of agribusiness respondents reported higher turnovers last year with almost half (44 per cent) of the respondents believing their business will improve in 2013.

This comes despite the sector recording one of the highest levels of increased business costs in 2012, with almost 72 per cent of agribusiness respondents reporting higher costs last year compared to 57.5 per cent of all respondents.

The study also indicated that 24 per cent of agribusinesses increased their debt level in 2012, relatively on par with the 22.5 per cent survey-wide.

An analysis conducted by Bentley earlier this year for the Queensland Government found that rural debt now totals almost $17 billion and the average borrower owes $1.073 million.

Bentley's Managing Director Ben Cameron says the beef industry was one of the major debt contributors, representing 54 per cent of Queensland's total rural debt.

"Key factors for increased debt include significant input cost increases and extreme environmental conditions, including droughts and floods," he says.

The recent survey also projected bad news for jobseekers within the agricultural industry as only 12 per cent of surveyed agribusiness expects to increase staff in 2013 compared to 17.5 per cent of all businesses surveyed.

Mr Cameron says the new research was important to provide a snapshot of the current needs and challenges across the sector.

"A key focus for the Bentleys team in 2013 is working with producers and others in rural industries to strengthen their financial position and improve their business's bottom line," he says.

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