Seven top stats about Aussie Ag in 2020

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The latest report from ABARES spells out exactly the role agriculture plays in Australia's economy - and what role it might play in future

Seven top stats about Aussie Ag in 2020
Steak and three veg - Australian meat and horticulture exports have seen the most growth over the past 20 years.

Meat and live animals, as well as horticulture, have been Australia's fastest growing export markets over the past two decades, according to a new report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

Figures released in The Snapshot of Australian Agriculture 2021 show that over the last 20 years, the value of meat and live animal exports has increased 86 per cent while horticulture has also sharply risen; up by 64 per cent.

In all, while the value of the industry does fluctuate, the value of exports in the sector is now evaluated as between $40 billion and $60 billion.

The Snapshot looks at the performance of Australian agriculture for 20 years up until the 2019-20 financial year, and provides key statistics in the one place.

Other statistics revealed in the report include:

- Cattle are Australia’s biggest agricultural commodity, accounting for 20 per cent of total value, ahead of both wheat and sheep and lamb at 8 per cent each.

- 70 per cent of Australia’s total agricultural production between 2015-16 and 2017-18 was exported. Sugar had the highest export percentage (86 per cent) ahead of beef and veal (75 per cent), lamb and mutton (73 per cent), canola (72 per cent) and wheat (71 per cent), while just 31 per cent of Australia’s fruit and nuts and 5 per cent of pigs and poultry are exported.

- During the past 20 years, export value to the top eight Asian markets (China, Japan, South Korea, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Singapore) went up 62 per cent, while exports to New Zealand, USA and all other markets declined 40 per cent.

- The Chinese export market was worth $16 billion in 2019-20, about five times its value compared to 20 years ago.

- Agriculture accounts for 55 per cent of Australia’s total land use, 25 per cent of water extraction and 11 per cent of the nation’s total goods and services exports.

- Agriculture is also responsible for 1.9 per cent of added value to the Gross Domestic Product, with 2.6 per cent of all employed Australians working in the sector in 2019-20.

- Government support for Australian farmers measures at just 2.3 per cent of gross farm receipts, putting Australia well below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 11.7 per cent, and below Kazakhstan and Costa Rica but ahead of India and New Zealand.

ABARES’ acting executive director Jared Greenville said the data showed the strength of Australia’s agricultural sector and how it had been resilient through much adversity, including droughts and more recently COVID-19. 

"Agricultural productivity has outpaced most other sectors of the Australian economy over the long term," Greenville says.

"COVID 19 was a major event for the sector in 2019–20, but it demonstrated an ability to adapt and transition to new opportunities.

"Australian farmers successfully manage significant variability, including a highly variable climate and volatile commodity prices and have employed a number of effective strategies for managing those risks," he says.

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