This report examines some of the key trends in Australia's agriculture sector over the last 20 years or so. While continuing to grow in absolute terms, the size and importance of agriculture has declined relative to the rest of the economy. Within the sector, there have been marked changes in the number and size of Australian farms, the make-up of agricultural activities and the production and marketing strategies employed by farmers.
Some of the key factors shaping these trends have been changes in consumer demands and government policies, technological advances and innovation and emerging environmental concerns. The unrelenting decline in the sector's terms of trade (that is, the ratio of prices received to prices paid) has been an important source of pressure for adaptation and change by Australian farmers. The sector has also had to respond to the continuing challenge of variations in seasonal conditions.
Released 5 July 2005