Crop production in Australia is vital in providing food for its local population as well as for livestock feed. Australia supplies a wide variety of cereals, sugar and fruit to the rest of the world. Crops include cereals, grains and legumes among others. Wheat accounts for the greatest contribution to the production value of cereals but requires a large land area. The amount of arable land in Australia was around 46 million hectares, a value that has not changed significantly in many years.
In terms of animal products, the beef industry is the most significant for Australia – it is one the leading beef exporters in the world, a position that looks likely to remain as the country continues to export the majority of its red meat. Conversely, Australians are tending to consume less beef and veal than in previous years. Following global trends, consumer preferences have shifted towards fish and poultry products.
The dairy industry in Australia is heavily influenced by international markets, trends and events, primarily because it is a deregulated, open market. Although most of the dairy products produced in Australia are consumed locally, Australia is a key importer and exporter of dairy, particularly with its neighbor New Zealand. Employment in this industry is extensive; thousands of Australians are employed directly through dairy farms or companies. Furthermore, the subsequent processing of dairy provides even more employment opportunities.
As with many sectors, the agricultural industry relies on water availability. Australia’s consumption of water in this sector reached almost 10 million megaliters in 2017. Pasture, cereal and grazing crops required the largest volume of water out of all crops, with most of this water distributed through irrigation channels or pipelines. With water scarcity problems already taking a toll on Australian agriculture, farmers will have to innovate or adapt in order to keep the industry growing in the future.