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Agricultural exports are on track for a record $70.3 billion

AUSTRLAIA agricultural exports are forecast to reach a record $70.3 billion for 2022-23, almost 50% more than a decade ago (adjusting inflation).

The latest quarterly report on agricultural products from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science suggests this is the first time that exports are expected to exceed $70 billion.

ABARES executive director Jared Greenville said the industry’s projected overall gross value of $81.8 billion shows that the strong performance has been crop-driven.

“Australia’s winter crop prospects look very promising in early spring – we expect a harvest of 55.5 million tonnes,” said Dr Greenville.

“Meat production is also rebounding, with the national herd returning to pre-drought levels.

“Favorable seasonal conditions are expected to persist, but global inflation and rising farm input costs could cloud the outlook for demand and farm incomes.”

Dr Greenville said the latest ABARES forecast took into account declining global growth and the likelihood of a third consecutive La Niña, about a once-in-30-year event.

“Wide inflation and a sluggish Chinese economy are the main points of vigilance,” he said.

“Global food and fertilizer prices remain very high despite falling from the highs of early 2022.”

The World Bank expects high global food prices until the end of 2024, which Dr Greenville said would have negative implications for global food security.

“We are seeing Australian agriculture address this uncertainty, with continued global demand for our food and fibre, another bumper winter harvest and the forecast for continued favorable growing conditions,” he said.

According to ABARES, the value of cotton exports is expected to reach a record $7 billion in 2022-2023 and become the third most valuable export commodity after wheat ($11.7 billion) and beef ( $10.2 billion).

“The harvest delays mean that the bulk of the bumper cotton crop of 2021-22 will be exported in 2022-23,” Dr Greenville said.

The Australian ABARES September 2022 crop report released on Tuesday also forecast near record levels of wheat and canola production for 2022-23.

“For wheat, we’re looking at 32.2 million tonnes, and for canola, we’re looking at 6.6 million tonnes, just below last year’s records,” Dr Greenville said.

“Barley production was also strong and is forecast to reach 12.3 million tonnes, the fourth highest on record.”

ABARES predicts that plantings of summer crops in 2022-23 will be well above average, supported by available soil moisture and large areas of land previously left fallow over the winter.