GPA survey reflects challenges of high input costs

Grain Central, March 6, 2023

Despite high input prices, Australian growers produced a near-record winter crop in 2022-23. Photo: CSBP Fertilisers

HIGH input costs and extreme weather events headed the list of challenges growers faced in producing the near-record crop of 2022-23, according to 2023 survey results released yesterday by Grain Producers Australia.

Whilst some analysts forecast the Australian crop size at a huge 71Mt, valued at about $28B, Australian grain producers also planted the most expensive crop on record.

GPA’s 2023 survey asked growers to provide feedback on the performance of last year’s cropping program and identify their policy and advocacy priorities for the year ahead, to help resolve key issues and mitigate risks.

High grain prices helped alleviate cost of production pressures but input costs – especially record high fertiliser prices – were identified as having key impacts on farm profitability and sustainability.

More than 80 percent of respondents said last year’s cropping production costs were “significantly higher” than previous years, while about 15pc said these costs were “moderately higher”.

About 50pc said fertiliser costs had the most significant impact on their cropping program and risk profile last year, while 20pc identified pesticides and 10pc said fuel.

Asked how last year’s cropping yield compared with previous years, about 80pc of respondents answered with a score of eight or more, with zero being the lowest and 10 the highest,

In rating the overall performance of last year’s cropping program, and on the same scale, the average score was 7.7.

Asked how the profitability of last year’s cropping program compared with previous years, 6.7 was the average rating score.

Whilst 45pc of respondents identified inputs as the biggest challenge they faced with producing last year’s crop, flooding and storms, grain marketing/pricing, agronomic pressures, transport and logistics, including damaged roads, and farm labour were also high on the list.

A range of solutions was proposed by the respondents, with calls for policy action on local fertiliser manufacturing, pricing transparency, and better supply-chain efficiencies the most popular.

Many responses came from growers in South Australia and Western Australia, where flooding and storm damage was not as significant as in eastern states.

However, about 40pc of respondents indicated they experienced a delayed harvest of more than two weeks, with 14pc saying they experienced a delay of more than one month.

The survey also provided continued support for priorities in GPA’s 2022 Election Policy Document, including; optimising grain-market competition; improving digital connectivity; increasing farm labour; enhancing grain-market access; and reducing freight costs and increasing supply-chain efficiencies.

About 80pc of respondents also said biosecurity preventative measures needed to be strengthened to help protect growers and maintain vital grain market access.

GPA chair and WA grower Barry Large thanked those who took the time to provide their views on current policy priorities and feedback from last year’s cropping program in the 2023 survey.

“These results are important to help shape GPA’s advocacy for the year ahead and provide affirmation on our ongoing policy priorities and the work we’re doing for growers, to boost farm productivity and sustainability,” Mr Large said.

“This also provided valuable feedback from growers on other priority areas for GPA to consider.

“Whilst 2022-23 was clearly a fantastic year for the majority of growers, the survey is a reminder of the serious impact that production costs have on growers’ business viability…and the need to address other challenges such as supply chain and biosecurity protections, to ensure growers remain profitable and sustainable and the communities and economies we support.”

Mr Large said the results would also help inform discussions at GPA’s Policy Council meeting in Melbourne on Monday which includes grower leaders and professional staff of the State Grains Councils throughout Australia.

Survey responses also helped inform GPA’s submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Development, Infrastructure and Transport, inquiry into the implications of severe weather events on the national regional, rural, and remote road network.

Source: Grain Producers Australia


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