So what can be done to accelerate production efforts aimed at protecting markets and growing new ones?
It may be worth focussing on those grazing businesses in good financial shape. They do exist. A confidence shift is required here to drive investment that creates improved productive output – and I don’t think this is just about commodity prices.
Investment from outside the agri industry from corporate and fund markets along with foreign investment also has the potential to increase production too. This is not limited to the north and it is not limited to production.
More graziers are attracting equity from outside farming to either grow production or to develop supply chain opportunities. More organised money is being invested in agriculture for diversity, return and future possibilities.
These kind of structures often carry no or minimal debt and invest in innovation, technology, genetics and infrastructure. Not all of these investments will be perfect and it’s unlikely they will in themselves transform the family farming landscape. But they will play a greater part in the mix and lessons can be learned by everybody around success or failure of some of these ventures.
The macros look really good for global animal protein, especially beef. Identifying appropriate assets and guiding investment to execution, along with access to quality operational management are critical areas for new investors.
The sector needs a dramatic and short-term improvement in Queensland’s seasonal conditions. Additional strategic effort is required throughout the industry to ensure it delivers to global markets offering long-term reward for farmers and the collective industry.
The key themes tabled in ANZ’s Greener Pastures report three years ago remain critically relevant today. How can the sector satisfy demand if it doesn’t have the beef to sell and how does it generate the required supply?
How does it ensure it is not just playing to commodities but extracting value from markets that play to the changing tastes and behaviour of the population in its key markets? Is there enough price incentive to encourage investment in herd rebuild and output?
THE MISSING PIECE
Beef Australia saw robust and constructive debate between representatives across the beef value chain on issues of capacity investment, key markets, marketing, efficiency, and supply.
This included views from potential investors, all of them experts in their business of specialisation and sometimes integration. There was great passion and thought demonstrated with the best interests of industry in mind.
Of course there is not just one way or one solution. But I couldn’t help thinking that while in many respects our industry can be fragmented and difficult to coordinate, there is genuine evidence of being on the right path.
If the mood at Rocky was anything to go by, I’d say we are at the beginning of a very exciting time in the beef industry. Rain won’t guarantee everyone’s success but right now it feels like the only piece that’s holding things back.
Article credit – Mark Bennett is Head of Agribusiness at ANZ. www.bluenotes.anz.com