It’s a big call, given that agribusiness is the world’s largest industry, and Australia has only 23 million people.
Here’s three reasons why it is the best.
1. We have the most efficient farmers in the world
Australia is the home of the most efficient farmers in the world, all 157,000 of them. How do so few feed so many? Aussie farmers feed all of Australia and some 60 million more.
On average Aussie farmers feed more people per farmer than any other country.
As a consequence, Australian agribusiness has developed alongside them, to efficiently provide their inputs and move their outputs to market. On top of that, there is a range of supporting industries that support the whole food chain.
Local agribusiness has had to do this despite some fierce competition of overseas multi-nationals and the highest labour costs in the world. That’s efficient.
All this is done without government subsidies and other public supports that is nearly the lowest in the world, only friendly neighbour New Zealand has lease.
There are facts and then there are perceptions. Worldwide there is a perception that big anything is bad anything. Big business is bad business, big farming is bad farming, and so big agribusiness must be bad agribusiness.
The community also thinks that the reverse holds true. Small farming is good farming, so small agribusiness must be good agribusiness.
Community views about big agribusiness are also tied up with other perceived nasties, like factory farming, GMOs, rainforest destruction, agricultural chemicals and food poisoning outbreaks. Rightly or wrongly, some of these are connected in the minds of many with specific multi-national companies; GMO and Monsanto go together like peas in a pod?
So, the community has come to see the actions of a few ‘big agribusiness’ are not within their acted sensibilities and so they are automatically assumed to equate to ‘bad agribusiness’. Undeservedly, this often gets shortened to just “agribusiness is bad”.
Well now, relax; Australia has no multi-national agribusiness companies of any consequence. Sure, there are multi-national agribusinesses operating within Australia, but they are merely subsidiaries of them operating locally, with most of their profits getting repatriated off-shore… the signature of a multi-national.
The presence of these foreign-owned agribusinesses does have one good effect; it makes the locals firms even more competitive within their own market.
The key thing is that the vast majority of Australian agribusinesses are small locally owned agribusinesses, often family concerns operated very efficiently indeed.
On the same logic then, it follows that Australia agribusiness is small agribusiness, and therefore Australian agribusiness is ‘good agribusiness’.
Step two: Now that’s small agribusiness, and that’s good.
Of course, all this is about perceptions, but as the marketing saying goes “perceptions are reality”, so it is an important issue for society. After all, we are talking about the food we all eat every day. If you want to learn more about this, then get involved in an Agribusiness Strategy Group (here) that deals with this very issue.
3. Australian Food is Safe Food
As a developed nation, Australia also has a plethora of best practice regimes in food regulation, standards, and bio-security: all backed up by legislation and enforced by laws that have resulted in Australian food having a reputation as being simple, good, nutritious and safe food. Countries want Australian food because it is safe.
As a result, Australian food often commands a premium price in its market.
Step three: Now that’s safe food, and that’s good.
The Australian agribusiness system, including but not limited to farming, fishing and forestry, is an efficient and entire food system, run mostly by small to medium sized locally owned agribusiness firms, delivering to all it consumers food and fibre that is good, nutritious, and safe.
There’s more to Australian agribusiness of course, not just world-class, safe, and nutritious beef, seafood, sheep, wheat, wine and beer, …but that will do for starters.