Why Agribusiness Matters
- Agribusiness is
the world’s oldest, largest, and most important industry. It is the business
that enables the world to grow, trade, and feed everyone utilising the Earth’s finite
encompasses half the world’s labour force, half the world’s assets, and 40% of modern
consumer purchases. It drives the public policy issues in economic development,
food security, trade, nutrition, natural resources, protecting plant and animal
diversity, genetics, and economic, social and environmental priorities.
- Agribusiness has
a growing problem: whilst food and fibre production has grown to feed all
humanity through the ages, global population growth continues unabated and the demand
for food and food prices, already at their highest levels ever, will continue
productivity has increased to match this global demand, but now both natural
and contemporary production systems are nearing capacity. Restrictions to
future growth and productivity are emerging; they are evident in fossil energy
sources, an increasing range of natural resources (e.g. water, fertiliser), and
agribusiness production and farming technology.
- Agribusiness has
achieved industrial scale efficiencies in the developed world, but these are
not replicated evenly throughout the developing world. Replicating past
increases in agribusiness productivity globally will be increasingly difficult,
so food prices will continue to rise, and food security will become
increasingly uncertain for many countries.
- Today agribusiness
has an image problem caused by its own success. The wider urbanised public
perceive agriculture as ‘just farming’, just raising livestock and growing
crops. Yet, agribusiness is a complex system involving a whole constellation of
activities and supporting businesses that move food and fibre from where it is
produced to where it is consumed. Societal expectations about the methods of
production increasingly impact the industry.
accounts for a third of nearly every country’s economy, and yet less than 2% of
agricultural employment opportunities are on farms. Less than 1.5% of students
entering universities choose agriculture as a career, and there is a growing
shortage in the global supply of graduates to fill industry vacancies to meet
future challenges. Education levels are directly connected to productivity
- Agribusiness and
agriculture are too important to ignore; and both are far too important for
partisanship, the rising multi-lateral problems to society demand unity of
purpose and action.
Agribusiness in Australia
- The food and
grocery manufacturing industry alone, just a part of the agribusiness sector, is
the largest Australian manufacturing sector; it is twice the size of the vehicle
manufacturing sector. It employs 312,000 people, including half of all employment
in rural areas. Yet, only 7% of people servicing agriculture have a degree
compared to 21% across all other industries. Australia does not train enough people
to sustain its competitiveness.
- Food Security is
a rising public policy issue worldwide; Australia is not immune from it.
Recently, Australia became a net importer of food and grocery products. The
rate of productivity increase in agribusiness and agriculture is slowing.
- Mining and
Agribusiness are Australia’s two largest wealth-creating sectors in the
economy, yet only agribusiness makes a sustainable contribution to improving productivity.
- Until recently,
there was no peak industry body representing Australian agribusiness. The agribusiness
sector is fragmented with 4000+ groups vying for attention. The Agribusiness
Council of Australia was created on 20 March 2013 to help improve industry
competitiveness by overcoming this industry fragmentation through better networking.