SA’s economic future begins at farm gates

Feb 29, 2024 | Column

ALMOST 12 months ago, the 2023 State Economic Statement was released to set the vision for economic development based on pillars of smart, sustainable, and inclusive priorities.

The Premier boldly called upon SA to forge a new role in the global economy, as we could no longer rest on our laurels or on past deeds to secure our economic future.

The centrepiece was the premise of a new era of green re-industrialisation, accelerated by $593 million of taxpayer funds toward the proposed hydrogen power station, electrolyser and storage facility at Whyalla.

Construction is due to commence in 2026.

Fast forward 12 months and SA’s primary production sector has grown to $18.5 billion in agribusiness revenue, accounting for more than half of our overseas merchandise exports and remaining the state’s single largest export sector.

Despite rising interest rates and inflationary pressures, primary production has made a significant contribution to the economy, while maintaining domestic food security through safe, affordable, and reliable agricultural produce.

High demand for our world-class food, wine and fibre already puts SA firmly on the global stage.

Unlike the promise of riches flowing into state coffers from a new hydrogen industry, our sector underwrites Treasury’s forecasts in framing the State Budget now.

Due to the efforts of its primary producers, SA is capitalising on the long-term outlook for rural commodities driven by a soaring global population.

Far from resting on our laurels, agriculture remains the mainstay of the state’s economy, and just like hydrogen, will be an industry of the future.

While Primary Producers SA recognises the importance of maintaining Australia’s plant and animal health status for international trade and market access, we also recognise the importance of strong biosecurity measures to the environment and society at large.

Funding programs to combat fruit fly, eradicate feral pests, and roll-out livestock traceability systems is critical. In line with the strategy to transition to a ‘green economy’, we also need to recognise the role farming plays in the active steward- ship of much of the SA landscape.

Put simply, agriculture is where industry strengths and natural resources combine to frame our role in the global economy.

And much like the Hydrogen Jobs Plan, agriculture deserves to be on the Premier’s radar for achieving greater economic complexity.

Through the adoption and adaption of technology, primary producers drive significant innovation, efficiency, and improved productivity on-farm.

A significant boost to SARDI’s world-class agricultural research and food technology initiatives are only two examples of how to advance an  and capable state that embraces technology and drives innovation through the next state budget.

Continued investment in sustainable primary industries is key to securing the future of SA, to improving its landscapes and biodiversity, and to driving economic growth to benefit the state economy, and rural and metropolitan communities alike.

PPSA is proud to promote the sector’s record $18.5b contribution to the SA economy and its critical link to the government’s economic agenda.

Now is the time to recognise the economic potential of primary production in the next state budget.

This piece was written by PPSA CEO Caroline Rhodes and first appeared in the 29 February 2024 edition of Stock Journal

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