Remove barriers to export success says farm chief

NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin has welcomed predicted record farm exports, but says worker shortages, supply chain congestion and biosecurity threats all remain a serious concern.
On Tuesday the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) forecast agricultural export earnings would climb to a record $70.3 billion for 2022-23 – almost 50 per cent higher than 10 years ago – but farmers were reporting big problems across the industry that would continue to limit this growth. 
Ongoing supply chain congestion leftover from COVID meant on-farm grain storages and market operators were full, while high fuel and energy costs combined with worker shortages were putting significant pressure on agricultural profitability. The continuing threat of a biosecurity incursion such as foot and mouth disease or African swine fever were also cause for concern.
While the federal government’s recent Jobs Summit discussed the issue of worker shortages, Mr Martin said there were other important issues that needed to be addressed to deliver certainty.
“Our farmers produce health plants and healthy animals, and families enjoy the results of this hard work three times a day,” Mr Martin said.
“It’s important to note this is the third harvest in a row where we’ve had great growing conditions, but it seems like external forces hold us back at every turn.
“We know the worker shortage won’t be solved overnight, but it’s critical we address these barriers to success sooner rather than later.”
NSW Farmers wanted to see better and more competitive port and rail access, which could reduce both the cost of export and the number of trucks on the road, and more investment into research and development to unlock future growth potential.
“I love seeing paddocks full of healthy wheat, but I love the thought of people enjoying a loaf of bread made from that wheat even more,” Mr Martin said.
“Sadly, the adverse implications of an inefficient supply chain are high global food prices, and there are predictions of this will continue through to the end of 2024.
“The best way to address food security is to grow more food, and our farmers are clearly ready to do their bit – we just need to take the handbrake off.”

Date: Tuesday, September 6, 2022
Media Contact: Steve Mudd  | 0429 011 690 | [email protected]