The industry, in Australia, has been the bedrock of the economy for almost 150 years, providing the backbone of a modern economy that includes the Australian Defence Force, the Australian Border Force and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
It is a vital source of employment and investment, and it’s been the driver of economic growth for decades.
But, it’s also been under threat, as the federal government announced plans to slash the sector’s funding by more than 40% over the next four years.
The government has proposed to slash funding to the Agri-Food Sector Australia (AGSA), the organisation that represents Australian farmers, from $5.9 billion to $3.8 billion over the period 2020-2022.
The proposed cut to the organisation comes as the agriculture sector is under a growing threat.
While the agribusiness sector has been growing at a healthy clip, it has also suffered the impacts of a recent commodity price slump.
According to the Australian Institute of Agricultural Economics, the agro-industry has seen a 12% fall in total employment since the end of last year, as compared to the same period in 2017.
As of October 31, 2017, there were 7.5 million farm jobs in Australia.
However, those numbers could be much higher.
According the Australian Industry Group (AIG), there were just over 11 million farm-based jobs in the sector.
With the cut to funding, the government could see the industry hit a total of just over 2 million jobs over the same time period.
That’s a significant drop.
In fact, AIG projects that the industry could lose up to 30,000 jobs in 2019 alone.
AIG CEO Dr John McInerney told Business Insider that while it’s not the first time the sector has suffered from a funding cut, it is the worst.
He says the cuts would have a significant impact on farmers, especially small and medium-sized farmers, who rely on the agrima-food sector for their livelihoods.
“We know that the funding cut could be a real blow to small andmedium-sized producers,” he said.
“They’re the backbone for the industry and the way they’re structured, the way their farming is managed, they’re the ones that rely on these funds to continue.”
“These cuts could really put a strain on small and mid-sized farms and those people who rely very heavily on the sector.”
McInorney says the government needs to take a look at the broader picture before making any cuts.
“What I’m really worried about is that if you take these cuts out of context, what’s happening is you’ve got this huge, massive industry being hit, but we don’t have a clear, detailed plan of what to do,” he told Business Australia.
“If you look at it from a wider perspective, you can see that we’re still pretty much at the same position we were in four years ago, which is that we’ve got a very big, very complex, highly regulated sector.”
With so many changes happening in the agriculture industry, it can be hard to know exactly how the cuts will impact farmers.
But research has shown that the sector is vulnerable.
Research from the Australian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, for example, found that the ag-industries future is uncertain.
“The impacts of these cuts are being felt across a range of industries including agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining, as well as retail, wholesale and restaurant,” the research found.
“A large proportion of the rural workforce is dependent on agriculture.”
The research found that, in some areas, the agricultural sector could see an increase in unemployment.
“While the ag/food sector is highly diverse in terms of age, education, ethnicity, gender and region, rural Australians are more likely to experience job losses and are more vulnerable to job loss than their urban counterparts,” the report found.
In 2018, the Agricultural Employers Association of Australia reported that the loss of funding could mean up to 860,000 job losses in the state of New South Wales.
And the agricultural lobby group, Australia’s Farm, is also concerned that the cut could impact the ag industry’s ability to survive.
“It’s clear that the cuts to ag/farming would not only impact the agriculture workforce but also the ag sector’s ability, as a whole, to compete and prosper in the future,” Australia’s farm lobby group told Business Australian.
“Agriculture and food systems in Australia are facing serious challenges in terms not just in terms with the quality of food we eat but also in terms the quality and affordability of food in our supermarkets and in our markets.”
But the agriculture lobby group says that the Government’s decision to cut funding for the ag market isn’t the first such decision to hit the ag industries.
Earlier this year, the Federal Government announced plans for cuts to the industry.
A report released in September by the Australian Chamber of Agriculture and Trade (ACAT) warned that, if the government goes ahead