In Agriculture

Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner

Ag Sector Rising To Virus Challenge

Victor P Taffa

COVID-19 continues to have an impact on the Queensland economy with the value of the state’s agricultural sector in 2019–20 forecast to be $16.99 Billion, a 5 % dip on last year’s estimate.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said over time he expected to see the AgTrends Report figures improve as Queensland began to unite and recover from the virus.

“Agricultural industry has been a key strength through COVID-19 and the Premier’s announcements this week show just how much importance the Palaszczuk Government puts on the sector.” Minister Furner said.

“We have committed another $12.5 Million to helping the sector come through the crisis even stronger than before.”

“We are working closer with stakeholder groups than ever before and they have stood with us to keep the economy going while continuing to send great produce across the state, the nation and the world.” Minister Furner said.

“2% of the reduction, or $275 Million, is attributed to COVID-19, with fruit and vegetables, pigs, cut flowers, forestry and fisheries commodities most affected.” Minister Furner said.

“Over the past three months, exports have been disrupted, demand across the food service sector has dropped significantly and labour supply has been restricted.” Minister Furner said.

“However, there are promising signs. The sector has good prospects in the medium-term, and we moved quickly to ensure the safe and timely movement of seasonal labour.”

“Some operators have quickly adapted to the situation by diverting their products into alternative markets, transforming produce into frozen or manufactured value-added products, and others have changed production practices to ensure the continued supply of high-quality produce.” Minister Furner said.

  • Forecasts revised up since the October 2019 include: chickpeas (60%), sheep and lambs (56%), wheat (20%), pigs (17%), pineapples (17%) and sugarcane (4%).
  • Forecasts revised down include: sorghum, cotton, maize, turf and cut flowers, apples, mandarins, mangoes, watermelons and rockmelons, lettuce, tomatoes, capsicums and chillies, macadamias and barley.

Minister Furner said looking beyond COVID-19, the sector was expected to continue performing as a critical pillar of the state’s economy, despite the ongoing impact of the drought.

“Current tariff concerns are unlikely to impact on this outlook as the majority of barley is purchased by local feedlots, and beef exports have found alternative markets.” Minister Furner said.

“Disruptions this year represent an opportunity to grow, diversify and take advantage of technologies to recover and boost value.”

Palaszczuk Government this week announced:

  • $5.5 Million digital transformation in agribusiness – to develop integrated supply chains that improve traceability, biosecurity and food safety.
  • $5 Million reinvigorated agricultural trade relationships – to support e-commerce and virtual trade facilitation in key markets and assist coordination of demand for additional regular air freighter services.
  • $2 Million agribusiness diversification assistance – to build capability and explore potential diversification opportunities in agricultural businesses, including for tourism.
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