AUSTRALIA’s agricultural sector has been a shining light of undiminished performance throughout the Covid pandemic, setting records for production and exports and helping underpin the nation’s economic recovery, according to Reserve Bank of Australia governor, Philip Lowe.
Addressing the Australian Farm Institute’s ‘Agriculture and trade in disrupted economies’ conference in Toowoomba this week, Dr Lowe said the agricultural sector had played a key role in driving the level of output in Australia above pre-pandemic levels.
“Not many other countries can say that. The bounce-back has been quicker and stronger than we expected,” he said.
“There has been a sharp, V-shaped recovery in farm output. After the devastating drought, farm output is up 40 per cent since the middle of last year. It’s at a record high. Rural exports are also at a record high.
“This recovery in the farm sector is positive news, not only for those in the industry but it is also making a valuable contribution to the recovery in the national economy.”
Dr Lowe said the improvement in the labour market was especially evident in regional communities.
“For the first time in many decades, unemployment in regional Australia is noticeably lower than it is in the capital cities.
“There is still a lot of variation across regions, but the average unemployment rate for regional Australia as a whole is the lowest it has been in more than a decade.”
Dr Lowe said the prices of many agricultural commodities had increased substantially.
“Since the start of 2019, wheat prices have increased 15pc; beef prices are up 20pc; and land prices are up by more than 25pc. The prices of canola, sugar and cotton have also increased sharply over the past year.
“There have been widespread increases in the prices of exports, and this is boosting our national income.”
At the forefront in the pickup in investment, tractor sales have surged to record highs over the past year.
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