Yearly farm exports expected to grow by 6%

Exports from Australian farms are tipped to increase by 6 per cent this financial year, according to a government forecaster.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) said in its commodities report for the December quarter that it expects farm exports to reach $34.5 billion.

The figures are surprising to those who had predicted the world economic market would negatively impact the industry, but ABARES points towards higher export shipments and good agricultural prices for the increase.

Western Australia is performing best for wheat export, and expected to be up more than 30 per cent.

ABARES acting deputy executive director Terry Sheales said the ever increasing demand from Asia is a major contributor to the export increase.

`Australia exported more than 60 per cent of its farm exports to the Asian region in 2010/11.”

But the dairy industry will not experience the same happy news, with expectations for profits to fall in the sector.

The dairy industry has already suffered a difficult year, with Coles slashing the price of milk to $1 per litre in January and Woolworths quickly followed suit.

Despite the industry showing the prices were unsustainable and predicting dairy farmers would start leaving businesses in droves, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) cleared them of any wrongdoing, as did a Senate enquiry.

But when Australia’s biggest milk processor, Lion, announced its plain milk business will make a loss, the impact on the sector was evident.

Australian dairy exports are expected to fall by a further 3 per cent this financial year to $2.27 billion.

“The forecast decline mainly reflects lower world prices and the continued effect of an assumed strong Australian dollar,” the report states.

While the report predicts Australians will purchase 2 per cent more milk this financial year, those within the industry say it will come at a cost.

Wheat, barley, canola, rice, raw cotton, sugar, beef and veal and sheep meat earnings are expected to rise in for the year.

Numbers of cattle herds are also ay record highs across Australia, while earnings for fisheries exports are expected to be more than $1 billion in 2011/12, up the same period the previous year.

In total, the value of agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports is forecast to be $38.4 billion in 2011/12, up about six per cent the previous year.

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