Year Ahead: Ag continuing to stand tall in uncertain times

By Simon Maddocks - Primary Producers Sa Chair
Updated January 10 2022 - 1:39am, first published 1:04am
POSITIVE OUTLOOK: PPSA chief executive officer Caroline Rhodes and chair Simon Maddocks.

The past year has been a roller coaster ride for many with weather events, trade tensions and the ongoing impact of the global pandemic creating significant challenges for all.

There have always been mixed blessings working in the primary industries, as John O'Brien's infamous poem "Said Hanrahan" conveys, perhaps a little too bluntly.

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Whilst Hanrahan complained about too little water, then too much water, and then bushfires, the last year has again been a roller coaster ride for many with both weather events, trade tension challenges and the ongoing impact of the global pandemic impacts.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to provide challenges across the agricultural economy for everyone, with difficulties in international supply chains making sourcing of inputs and parts difficult; the limit of labour supply for workforces traditionally buoyed by backpackers and other visitors; cross-border travel constraints; and many export markets closed or with limited access.

The lack of improvement in our relationship with China continues to impact many sectors.

Notwithstanding, agriculture is one of the better industries to be part of as demand for food and primary produce hasn't abated throughout the pandemic. If anything, COVID-19 has reinforced the importance and value of locally sourced quality food supplies; something many have traditionally taken for granted.

Agriculture remains key to SA's economy, and a production rebound coupled with recent strong commodity prices demonstrates our sector's resilience.

But spare a thought for those unlucky producers impacted by frosts, hail, flood, and other inclement weather events, with many having all their hard work and careful management destroyed in a matter of minutes.

Increasing climate variability is a difficult thing to contend with, and Australia's farming organisations have led from the front, committing to emission reduction targets ahead of many other industries and governments.

As informed land and environmental custodians, farmers live with these realities every day. It's time others got onboard to help address how we deal better with the consequences and mitigate the risks.

Primary Producers SA is excited about the year ahead. Our vibrant commodity sectors are critical to sustaining and growing regional economies, and COVID-19 has led to greater interest in living and working in regional SA.

With both a state and federal election occurring in the first half of the year, PPSA will be working hard to position key policy and investment requirements (public and private) with all levels of government and business to support the continued economic development of our industries and regions.

A need to improve student exposure to the significant job opportunities in agriculture, environment, and in the use of technology in the primary production sectors will also be a key focus.

Better planning policies, water management, enhanced biosecurity, improved skills and workforce development, as well as investment in innovation and improved market access remain critical to our sectors' growth.

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