Discussion paper

Blueprint for Australian agriculture 2013-2020

14 Feb 2013

The Blueprint for Australian Agriculture (the Blueprint) is the first sector-wide effort to set out a strong and sustainable future path for Australian agriculture and its supply chain, looking ahead at least to 2020, and towards 2050.

The Blueprint aims to ensure the full agricultural sector (including the supply chain) is prepared for the challenges we are facing now and in the coming decades. It involves people from all parts of the sector working towards the future by mapping out where we, the agricultural sector, want to go and how we could get there. The Blueprint will inform and direct policy development and innovation for the sector, ensuring a strong and sustainable future.

While many developed and developing countries have agricultural ‘blueprints’ or plans, in many cases these have been devised by government entities rather than organisations in the sector. This Blueprint is innovative because it has been created by the agriculture sector— including its supply chain—and it therefore has strong stakeholder involvement.

The process has involved Australia’s farmers, agriculture specialists, the agricultural supply chain, and government entities and representatives. It has involved several stages, including extensive consultations and surveys over the past year, plus roundtable discussions and workshops. The purpose was to identify the issues and challenges that are the highest priorities for agriculture, and to work out ways to address them.

It’s an ongoing process. The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has spearheaded the Blueprint effort; however, the Blueprint belongs to the sector as a whole. No single organisation will implement it—it is up to the agriculture sector, which has joined in to create the Blueprint, to now to develop and carry out the strategies through the pathways suggested in this report.

The Blueprint process has brought together everyone from farmers to futurists to contribute their ideas on the challenges facing agriculture and how they can best be met in the future. The Blueprint has tracked the details of specific issue discussions and stayed open to an uncertain future by imagining likely, possible and ‘out there’ scenarios such as robotic technology development, laboratory production of meat and 3D printing of food.

The Blueprint needs to be flexible enough to deal with the reality that in 20 to 40 years’ time the world is likely to be significantly different. In all likelihood it will be unimaginably different.

This report shows what information came out of the consultation process and how the Blueprint has taken that information and built it into a series of themes, priority issues, goals and strategies.

The Blueprint has been facilitated by the NFF, with support from Westpac, Woolworths and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), and assistance from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), rural/ regional market research company Kaliber, rural communication consultancy Sefton & Associates, futurists/strategists Emergent Futures, farm policy researchers the Australian Farm Institute, rural publishers Fairfax Agricultural Media and the 26 NFF member organisations. From 2013 onwards, Westpac and Woolworths will be continuing their partnership with the NFF for the legacy phase of the Blueprint, along with new major partners Bayer CropScience and Syngenta Australia.

The Blueprint has involved a wide range of stakeholders from the agriculture supply chain, including farmers, transporters, processors, retailers, consultants, rural businesses, agribusinesses, educators, governments, rural communities and community groups. The Blueprint ensures that participants in the agriculture sector are all on the same page as we work towards a strong and sustainable future for Australian agriculture.

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