Driving profitability through better infrastructure for beef & cattle industry

Media Release


16 October 2015

Joint release with:

Barnaby Joyce

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

A new report has underlined the importance of investment in supply chain infrastructure as a crucial factor in the ability of Australia's beef and cattle industry to capture the significant opportunities presented by increasing food demand in Asia.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Warren Truss, and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said that the report findings supported the Australian Government's approach to building and strengthening the infrastructure that underpinned Australian industry.

“The new Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) report identified transport infrastructure, particularly roads, as a limiting factor in the ability of Australia's beef supply chain to respond effectively to increasing global demand,” Minister Truss said.

“We are undertaking the biggest infrastructure programme in Australian history—a programme that will deliver real benefits to Australia's industries, including our $57 billion agricultural industries.

“The Government has already committed nearly $5 billion of its $50 billion nationwide investment in transport infrastructure to the north.

“In addition, under the White Paper for Developing Northern Australia, we are investing $100 million in improving key northern Australian cattle roads, delivering badly needed upgrades to key infrastructure for the northern beef industry.”

Minister Joyce said the funding was an important investment in the future profitability of Australia's $4 billion northern beef industry.

“The ABARES report found that beef production is the most extensive and geographically dispersed agricultural activity in Australia, and over half the herd is located in northern Australia,” Minister Joyce said.

“Some producers in northern Australia travel further to the local store than overseas produce to market, and CSIRO has calculated that transport costs for many Northern Australian producers can be as much as 35 per cent of the price of cattle.”

“Maximising supply chain efficiency and speed to market are essential to maintaining a competitive beef and livestock industry, as well as delivering greater farmgate returns for producers.

“The government has signed trade deals with three of our biggest trading partners (China, Japan and Korea), negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade agreement, and delivered seven new markets for livestock exports. It is therefore vital that we have the infrastructure in place to ensure producers can capitalise on these opportunities.

“This latest report by ABARES makes it clear that in order to realise the benefits of these trade opportunities and compete in international markets we must invest in good infrastructure here at home.

“This is why the government is delivering infrastructure improvements to support productive and profitable agricultural industries, including through the Agricultural Competitiveness and Northern Australia White Papers.”

Key infrastructure improvements include:

    • investments of over $3 billion for northern sections of the Bruce Highway, $208.4 million for the Cape York Region Package, $172.2 million for the North West Coastal Highway and $90 million for the Northern Territory Regional Roads Productivity Package
    • $600 million under the White Paper for Developing Northern Australia for priority road projects in northern Australia
    • $500 million under the Ag White Paper for water infrastructure to contribute to greater water security for farmers
    • $300 million for pre-construction works for the Inland Rail, which will provide new or improved access to the ports of Melbourne, Port Kembla, Botany, Newcastle and Brisbane
    • investing up to $29.5 billion towards delivering Australia's first national broadband network to all Australians, including and $100 million to the Mobile Blackspot Programme to extend mobile phone coverage and competition in regional Australia.

Under the Ag White Paper, the government is also expanding the CSIRO's TRAnsport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TRANSIT) to ensure future decisions on transport infrastructure deliver maximum benefits to agriculture.

The full ABARES report, Australia's beef supply chains: Infrastructure issues and implications, was released today and can be found at agriculture.gov.au/abares/publications.