This report, Agricultural commodities: March quarter 2013, contains ABARES' latest outlook over the short (2012-13 and 2013-14) to medium term (to 2017-18) for Australia's key agricultural commodities. Also included in this issue are two articles entitled 'Farm performance: broadacre and dairy farms, 2010-11 to 2012-13' and 'Productivity in the broadacre and dairy industries'.
Under the assumption of favourable seasonal conditions, export earnings from farm commodities are forecast to be around $35.6 billion in 2013-14, slightly lower than a forecast $35.9 billion in 2012-13.
Commodities for which export earnings are forecast to rise in 2013-14 include barley (four per cent), wine (seven per cent), beef and veal (two per cent) and wool (17 per cent). Offsetting these rises are forecast falls in export earnings from canola (13 per cent), wheat (eight per cent), rice (17 per cent), grain sorghum (seven per cent), raw cotton (15 per cent) and sugar (five per cent).
Export earnings for fisheries products are forecast to remain largely unchanged in 2013-14 at around A$1.2 billion, following a decline of four per cent in 2012-13.
Export earnings for forest products are forecast to increase slightly in 2013-14 to A$2.4 billion, following an increase of 3.2 per cent in 2012-13 to A$2.3 billion.
Over the medium term (to 2017-18), the value of farm exports is projected to decline but remain at relatively high levels in real terms. By 2017-18, the value of farm exports is projected to be around A$33.7 billion (in 2012-13 dollars), which is marginally higher than the average of A$33.1 billion (also in 2012-13 dollars) in the five years to 2011-12.
The gross value of farm production is forecast to be around A$47.7 billion in 2013-14, following a forecast decline of 4.5 per cent to A$46.8 billion in 2012-13. The gross value of crop production is forecast to increase by around one per cent to A$27.3 billion in 2013-14, following a forecast decline of 2.4 per cent in 2012-13. The gross value of livestock production is forecast to increase by 3.5 per cent to A$20.4 billion in 2013-14, after a forecast decline of 7.3 per cent in 2012-13.
At the national level, average farm cash income for broadacre farms is projected to decline from a recent high of A$109,200 per farm in 2011-12 to around A$100,000 per farm in 2012-13, at this projected level, average broadacre farm cash income will still be around 21 per cent higher than the average of A$83,000 (in 2012-13 dollars) in the 10 years to 2011-12.
Reductions in average farm cash income are projected for broadacre farms in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia due to lower livestock and wool prices and a reduction from historically high crop production in 2011-12.
At the national level, average cash income for dairy farms is projected to be around A$95,000 per farm in 2012-13, down from A$143,200 per farm in 2011-12. This reflects lower farm-gate milk prices and rises in fodder and other input prices.
Productivity in the broadacre industries has grown at an average rate of one per cent a year between 1977-78 and 2010-11. Over this period, productivity growth rates differed between the main farm types: 1.5 per cent a year for cropping, 0.9 per cent a year for beef and around zero growth for sheep. Productivity growth for the dairy industry averaged 1.6 per cent a year between 1978-79 and 2010-11.
Australia has maintained its productivity and competitiveness against key competitors over the long term. However, past productivity growth rates may become more challenging to maintain and may depend more on new advances in technology.
The following economic assumptions underlie this set of commodity forecasts:
- In preparing this set of commodity forecasts and projections, world economic activity is assumed to increase by 3.5 per cent in 2013, after rising by 3.2 per cent in 2012. World economic growth is assumed to improve to 4.3 per cent in 2015, before easing gradually to around 4.0 per cent a year toward 2018.
- In Australia, economic activity is assumed to increase by 2.8 per cent in 2013-14, after an assumed rise of three per cent in 2012-13. Toward 2017-18, Australian economic growth is assumed to average around three per cent a year.
- The Australian dollar is assumed to average around US$1.04 in 2013-14, compared with an assumed average of US$1.03 in 2012-13. Over the medium term, the value of the Australian exchange rate is assumed to remain high, depreciating only gradually to around parity against the US dollar by 2017-18.
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