24/10/2014 - 16:23

Ag productivity in government sights

24/10/2014 - 16:23

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Expanding the coverage of the foreign ownership register, further investment in infrastructure, abolition of excessive regulation and adjustments to the tax system have all been suggested as policy initiatives in the federal government’s Agricultural Competitiveness green paper.

DEBATE: The report has called for discussion on foreign ownership of agricultural land.

Expanding the coverage of the foreign ownership register, further investment in infrastructure, abolition of excessive regulation and adjustments to the tax system have all been suggested as policy initiatives in the federal government’s Agricultural Competitiveness green paper.

Providing a royalty stream for landowners affected by mining projects to ensure the land is maintained for agricultural use in the long term was another suggestion.

This would help to ensure an incentive for maintaining value of the land for owners, stakeholders argued.

The register of foreign ownership would be expanded to include water and agribusiness enterprises, in addition to agricultural land, in order to “improve transparency and allow for a more informed debate about foreign ownership”.

On infrastructure, the report highlighted that freight volumes had quadrupled over the past four decades, and were expected to double again by 2030.

Bulk agricultural products were almost 8 per cent of the nation’s rail freight, while transport costs were nearly a quarter of the farm gate value of products such as beef.

Agriculture is the nation’s most productive industry when measured by labour productivity, the report said, with a substantial comparative advantage over the US.

Input costs per hour, in contrast, were slightly more than the US.

The report also found a major shift in the source of value adding in the industry.

In 1900, more than 80 per cent of total selling cost was received by farmers, but in 2000 that share had fallen to 10 per cent.

This suggests that post farm-gate segments of the supply chain are now responsible for most of the value added in the industry.

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