CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA — The Australian government is investing A$72.7 million to help Australian farming, forestry and fishing exporters to expand and diversify in 2021.

The goals of the Agri-Business Expansion Initiative are to scale up export support services to help over 2,000 Australian agri-food exporters expand their international markets, greater access to market intelligence, matched grants for government and industry associations to work together on market expansion, and additional technical experts to open and expand market access.

GrainGrowers, an Australian grain representative organization, is pleased by the trade package and the relief it can bring as growers face 80.5% tariffs on Australian barley by China.

Brett Hosking, chairman of GrainGrowers, said growers are bearing the brunt of the crippling tariffs, and while today’s announcement is welcomed further investment is needed from the federal government.

“We acknowledge that this package is a start, within the package there are only limited funds allocated to programs to increase market access for all of agriculture so the opportunity for further investment is promising,” Hoskins said. “The grains industry alone will miss out on A$2.5 billion dollars over the next five years from the loss of the Chinese barley market. We support both the Agriculture and Trade Ministers to make it a priority to boost funding to find alternative markets that growers can sell their grain to.”

The package includes A$42.9 million to scale up support to over 2,000 agri-food exporters each year through Austrade’s services. Austrade also will work with industry bodies to deliver targeted advice and trade missions to help exporters grow in existing and new markets.

The GrainGrowers urge the funding to be used to address short-term concerns for Australian malt barley as well as increasing feed grain opportunities in the region while also looking at domestic opportunities to value add.

“Australian growers have produced a bumper crop this year after a couple of lean years, and growers want a fair return for the high-quality product they produce,” Hosking said. “We look forward to working with government in 2021 to ensure farmers don’t carry the burden of foreign trade matters.”

David Littleproud, minister for agriculture, drought and emergency management, said the new package of measures would kick off early in 2021, providing rapid support to Australian farmers, fishers, foresters and other agri-food exporters.

“Australia produces the best food and fiber in the world, and we grow enough food to feed 75 million people every year,” Littleproud said. “Ever-expanding market access is fundamental and key to us reaching a $100 billion agriculture sector by 2030.

“Diversifying your customer base is a basic principle of doing business and markets don’t sit still so we shouldn’t either. We need to continually be working with industry to maintain, expand and create markets for our primary producers.”

DanTehan, minister for trade, tourism and investment, said the package would build on the Australian government’s work to expand free trade agreements and market access for Australia’s globally competitive and market-based agricultural sector by enabling Austrade to scale up its exporter services.

“Trade plays a critical role in our economy, supporting one in five Australian jobs, and we want to ensure our agribusinesses have access to the right services and information to continue growing and expanding their overseas markets,” Tehan said. “This initiative will see government work in partnership with industry and individual businesses to map out new export markets and opportunities and take full advantage of the government’s extensive trade and investment network to strengthen their businesses.”