Farm Efficiency Up But Slowing

The Age, Australia

PRODUCTIVITY in the cropping, livestock and dairy industries has steadily risen over the past three decades, but appears to be slowing, according to the nation’s chief commodities forecaster.

The slowing dates from the mid-1990s, says the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) in a report.

ABARE said average annual productivity growth in the cropping sector was 4.1% between 1977-78 and 1993-94, compared with 0.9% between 1994-95 and 2005-06.

While drought may have been a big factor in the decline, ABARE said other factors might be involved. “Further inquiry into this issue remains an area for future study,” it said.

The issue was crucial because productivity growth was central to the export competitiveness of agriculture, particularly given the threat of climate change and declining terms of trade.

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