Ag sector rising to virus challenge

Published Friday, 19 June, 2020 at 01:35 PM

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries
The Honourable Mark Furner

COVID-19 continues to have an impact on the Queensland economy with the value of the state’s agricultural sector in 2019–20 forecast to be $16.99 billion, a five per cent dip on last year’s estimate.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said over time he expected to see the AgTrends Report figures improve as Queensland began to unite and recover from the virus.

“The agricultural industry has been a key strength through COVID-19 and the Premier’s announcements this week show just how much importance the Palaszczuk Government puts on the sector,” Mr Furner said.

“We have committed another $12.5m to helping the sector come through the crisis even stronger than before.

“We are working closer with stakeholder groups than ever before and they have stood with us to keep the economy going while continuing to send great produce across the state, the nation and the world.”

Two per cent of the reduction, or $275 million, is attributed to COVID-19, with fruit and vegetables, pigs, cut flowers, forestry and fisheries commodities most affected,” Mr Furner said.

“Over the past three months, exports have been disrupted, demand across the food service sector has dropped significantly and labour supply has been restricted.

“However, there are promising signs. The sector has good prospects in the medium-term, and we moved quickly to ensure the safe and timely movement of seasonal labour.

“Some operators have quickly adapted to the situation by diverting their products into alternative markets, transforming produce into frozen or manufactured value-added products, and others have changed production practices to ensure the continued supply of high-quality produce.”

  • Forecasts revised up since the October 2019 include: chickpeas (60%), sheep and lambs (56%), wheat (20%), pigs (17%), pineapples (17%) and sugarcane (4%). 
  • Forecasts revised down include: sorghum, cotton, maize, turf and cut flowers, apples, mandarins, mangoes, watermelons and rockmelons, lettuce, tomatoes, capsicums and chillies, macadamias and barley.

Mr Furner said looking beyond COVID-19, the sector was expected to continue performing as a critical pillar of the state’s economy, despite the ongoing impact of the drought.

“Current tariff concerns are unlikely to impact on this outlook as the majority of barley is purchased by local feedlots, and beef exports have found alternative markets,” he said.

“The disruptions this year represent an opportunity to grow, diversify and take advantage of technologies to recover and boost value.”

The Palaszczuk Government this week announced: 

  •         $5.5 million digital transformation in agribusiness – to develop integrated supply chains that improve traceability, biosecurity and food safety.
  •         $5 million reinvigorated agricultural trade relationships – to support
    e-commerce and virtual trade facilitation in key markets and assist coordination of demand for additional regular air freighter services.
  •         $2 million agribusiness diversification assistance – to build capability and explore potential diversification opportunities in agricultural businesses, including for tourism.


Media contact:          Ron Goodman            0427 781 920