Victoria risks losing its crown as Australia’s agriculture powerhouse according to new food and fibre export figures released this month.
State Labor’s failure to secure more access to new and emerging global markets has seen the value of Victoria’s food and fibre exports in 2020-21 sink below $14 billion for the first time since 2017.
At the same time, New South Wales’ food and fibre exports are booming with the nearly $1 billion increase in 2020-21 boosting its total share of our nation’s agriculture exports by two per cent.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said Victoria was failing to weather global supply chain disruptions because State Labor has essentially stopped work to diversify market access.
“The State Labor Government has decreased spending on trade and efforts to diversify farmers’ access to global markets when it should have been boosting it,” Mr Walsh said.
“We rely on China for 26 per cent of our exports – that’s more than three times the United States and Japan, our next biggest trading partners.
“Half a billion dollars wiped from Victoria’s food and fibre exports, while NSW prospers with a $1 billion boost shows State Labor’s failure to diversify farmers’ market access risks our state losing its crown as the nation’s agriculture powerhouse.”
Food and fibre exports in Victoria were valued at $13.98 billion in 2020-21, a drop of $476 million (three per cent) from last year and lower than the $14.1 billion recorded in 2017-18.
In the past 12 months, Victoria’s food and fibre exports are down in eight of the 10 commodity groups.
This includes exports of fruits (down 20 per cent), table grapes (down 27 per cent), dried grapes (down 26 per cent) and wine (down 18 per cent to a value of $311 million).
Mr Walsh said Victorian agriculture was missing out on crucial growth opportunities with the city-centric, out-of-touch State Labor Government.
“State Labor axed efforts to strengthen trade and global engagement last year – at a time when global markets are in turmoil,” Mr Walsh said.
“State Labor is no champion for our farmers or regional Victorians. Only a change in Government in November will deliver a renewed focus on expanding into emerging markets in South-east Asia, India and Africa.”