Central to the sustainability of the Australian beef and lamb industries is the ability for them to be profitable and ensure a strong workforce and rural communities. Unless the industry is profitable from the farm gate to the processor, then initiatives related to continued improvement with environmental management and animal welfare outcomes are not possible.
There are a number of challenges that at different times post challenges to the viability of the industry, including:
- A declining workforce in rural and regional Australia
- Difficulty attracting young people to the industry
- A decline in profitability at the farm gate
- Rising input costs
- A high Australian dollar
- The Australian beef and lamb industries employ over 172,000 people
- Each year the industry injects over $16 billion into the national economy and is an important part of our export market
- The livestock industry also plays an important role in supporting rural and regional community sustainability. The sustainability of these communities extends beyond economic, to mental health, continued education and connection
- Each Australian farmer produces enough food to feed 600 people, 150 at home and 450 overseas. Australian farmers produce almost 93 percent of Australia’s daily domestic food supply
- Agriculture is a knowledge intensive sector, with a strong demand for skilled professionals. Estimates indicate a potential demand for 6000 tertiary qualified graduates per year in the sector. However, the sector faces a significant undersupply of graduates, with Australian universities graduating fewer than 800 graduates per year in agriculture
- Despite common misconceptions, Government support for Australian farms represents just four percent of farming income. By comparison, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in Norway it is 61 percent, Korea 52 percent, European Union 23 percent, Canada 17 percent, and United States 9 percent. In fact, Australian farmers are among the most self-sufficient in the world.