The average cash income for vegetable growers in Australia will amount to $266,000 for the 2016-2017 financial year, according to the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).
ABARES senior economist Dale Ashton said that the income for the past decade reached $200,000. The projected figure for the financial year represents the highest income since 2007 when ABARES began a survey of farm financial performance.
The anticipated increase in farming income bodes well for businesses, although rising costs from labour and energy may have countered the estimated growth in income. AusVeg CEO James Whiteside said that Australian vegetable farmers worry over losing “global competitiveness” without cost-control measures.
Other trade groups such as the Australian Table Grape Association believe that the prices for fresh produce will increase, due to higher production and labour costs. Another challenge for the agriculture industry involves jobs, which could be delegated to robots and artificial intelligence due to the occurrence of a digital revolution.
By 2025, robots would account for one-third of all jobs. As early as now, many farmers have become savvy with the use of modern equipment and machinery, including a V-hay rake for sale. Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) may represent progress for the sector, but it does not bode well for unemployment.
The jobless rate in Australia currently stays at an estimated 5.6 per cent, which is expected to continue until 2020. Still, this rate could increase if robots and AI successfully take over work from humans. In the farming industry, an increasing number of retiring baby boomers could further complicate the situation. However, not everyone may be affected as those who are familiar with modern farming technology could establish a career in this segment.
The cost of labour and production for vegetable farming has been on an upward trend. Do you think a broader use of automated technology will contribute to a further increase?