Fall in farm earnings on the horizon

The latest ABARES Agricultural Commodities report forecasts a decline in farm export earnings, largely reflecting a projected fall in farm production on the back of a significant increase  this year.

ABARES executive director, Karen Schneider, said farm export earnings in 2013-14 season reached an estimated high of $41 billion, with returns in 2014-15 forecast to ease from those levels.

“Despite forecast falls, both farm production and export earnings in 2014-15 are projected to remain well above the 10 year average,” Ms Schneider said.

“Earnings from farm exports are forecast to fall by 6.2 per cent in 2014-15 to around $38.5 billion. At this forecast level, export earnings would still be around 9 per cent above the average of $35.5 billion over the 10 years to 2012-13 in real terms.

“The fall in export earnings follows a forecast 4.6 per cent decrease in the volume of farm production in 2014-15, compared with the estimated increase of 6.0 per cent in 2013-14.

“Export earnings in 2014-15 are forecast to fall for both crop products, by 9.6 per cent to $20.4 billion, and livestock products, by 1.9 per cent to $18.1 billion.

“In contrast, export earnings for fisheries products are projected to increase by 4.6 per cent to $1.4 billion in 2014-15,” she said.

Agricultural commodities for which export earnings are expected to fall in 2014-15 include: barley (41 per cent); canola (23 per cent); beef and veal (4 per cent); rice (32 per cent); horticulture (13 per cent); and mutton (28 per cent).

Export earnings are forecast to increase for sugar (5 per cent); live cattle (3 per cent); and live sheep (24 per cent).

Ms Schneider said the prices for Australian farm exports, in aggregate, are forecast to remain largely unchanged in 2014-15, following an estimated rise of 8.1 per cent in 2013-14.

“Higher export prices in 2014-15 for beef, wool and sheep meat are expected to be offset by lower prices for wheat, cotton, barley and sugar,” Ms Schneider said.

The forecasts were released in the June issue of Agricultural Commodities, which includes ABARES’ latest outlook for Australia’s key agricultural commodities in 2014-15.

“In addition to commodity forecasts, this report includes information on the potential impact of El Nino, the proportion of Australian agricultural production exported, and an overview of the Korea-Australia free trade agreement, which is expected to come into effect in 2015,” Ms Schneider said.

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