THE Agribusiness Council of Australia (ACA) has congratulated Senators for addressing the country's most crucial “market failure” issue by focusing on the drivers of national productivity in a bi-partisan way.
Chairman Ian Joseph said the ACA fully supported the recommendations and conclusions of the Senate Inquiry Report into Agriculture and Agribusiness Education and Training, tabled on June 21.
“It’s a big call for Senators from all parties to agree that there is 'market failure', because it will affect all industry-relevant research, development, and extension efforts for years to come,” Mr Joseph said.
“The Senators have correctly recognised the critical role that skilled graduates play in driving industry’s ability to create wealth for everyone.
"Skilled people make things work, and we simply don’t have enough of them, and the situation is still getting worse.”
The Senate Report states: "The committee is of the opinion that there is a significant skills shortage in both agricultural production and agribusiness in Australia, and that this skills shortage is not going to resolve itself through market forces".
"The skills shortage also poses a threat to the productivity increases that are necessary for the continued viability of the food sector."
Mr Joseph said the chief cause of market failure is in market signals between the University and VET sectors and how they meet industry’s needs.
"Clearly the consultation systems are not working well,” Mr Joseph said.
“It will be a challenge that government, the education system and the agribusiness sector must address.
“The ACA commends Senator Back for instigating the report. This is a key issue that has crept up... The need fix it now is desperately urgent.”
Mr Joseph said the ACA welcomed the challenge of leading the way forward in finding more solutions to overcome the issues and challenges facing the agribusiness sector.
“The ACA hopes all peak bodies will examine the report in depth, and not just focus on the report’s recommendations. The real message is in the detail,” he said.
“Farmers are not alone; food processors are not alone, and a plethora of other ag-support industries are not alone in fixing this problem.
"We are all part of a bigger food system, and we need to focus upon getting what our industry’s really need, a reliable supply of skilled ‘industry-ready’ talent."
Speaking from Perth, ACA chief executive officer Roy Duncanson said it was legitimate for governments to address market failure.
"This market failure is critical; it frustrates industry’s ability to generate more wealth for us all, so it must be a big concern to everyone," Mr Duncanson said.
"If you wonder why food prices are climbing so fast then look no further than this, because it is a core reason why.
“All governments and peak industry bodies must get back to basics, understand what this report is really saying, then act quickly to build productivity in collaborative, rather than fragmented ways.
“The key performance issue here is simple: graduation rates much match industry demand for skills, not off in the future, but now."
Mr Joseph said that the ACA would take up the recommendations of the Senate Inquiry Report directly to all governments, and provide comprehensive informed solutions to address the key issues identified.
“While the ACA will address all the recommendations, we must thank Senators for accepting all the ACA’s key recommendations to the Inquiry, particularly recommendations 9, 10 and 11 (regarding the formation of a new agricultural industry peak body develops and presents to government a national strategy for addressing the skills shortage, industry productivity, and food security)."