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Australia’s government farm support is among the lowest of OECD countries

By Rodney Woods

A briefing paper released by the Australian Farm Institute and GrainGrowers regarding the effects of global market uncertainty highlights that Australia’s government farm support is among the lowest of OECD countries, and has been steadily reducing over the past two decades.

In terms of total support estimates, since 2009 no more than 0.19 per cent of Australia’s annual GDP has been provided as support to the agriculture sector — a proportion less than all international competitors.

“In times of uncertainty, it is important to ensure policy decisions are based on evidence not conjecture,” AFI executive director Richard Heath said.

“Uncertainty in international markets due to COVID-19 is being further exacerbated by the distorting policies from international governments.

“Now is the time to focus on improving the efficiency of international agricultural markets.

“We need to form our policy approach on facts and ensure that we’re not limiting the ability of Australian agriculture to help deliver Australia’s economic recovery.”

GrainGrowers chief executive officer David McKeon said Australian farmers were being negatively affected by the support policies received by their counterparts across the globe, as market price support mechanisms continue to undermine Australia’s trade competitiveness.

“Australian grain farmers operate in highly competitive international markets; they face the full exposure of market volatility and localised climate variability,” Mr McKeon said.

“With Australian farmers receiving less government support than all their international competitors, it is critical policy settings are right.

“Government policy settings on trade, RD&E, infrastructure and regulation are fundamental to Australian farmers’ ongoing international competitiveness.”

Mr McKeon also said the grains industry had the potential to provide the "green shoots" of economic recovery as Australia emerged from current challenges.

“To achieve this, our industry needs an ambitious trade policy agenda and a continual focus on reductions in unnecessary red tape.”