How's the industry doing?

Portrait photos of James Ridsdill-Smith, Bob Freebairn, and Ray Hare

The Productivity Trends Program aims to bring you everything you might want to know about the performance of the grains industry. At the heart of the program is ABARE's annual farm survey.

The detailed national survey of the financial and physical performance of grain farms provides data about profitability, productivity and management practices. These data are useful to the grains industry, governments, agribusiness, financial institutions, consultants and individual farmers and aid decision making and policy development in the grains industry.

Moving with the times, the information is not only published in ABARE's Grains Industry Reports but it may be downloaded from the GRDC web site at

A good example of how the information is put to use is the Productivity Study of the grains industry which was launched by the GRDC at Grains Week in April. Here you'll get the facts and figures on the Australian grain industry's impressive productivity performance in the face of seriously declining terms of trade during the past two decades — specialist grain farmers have increased their productivity at an annual rate of 3.6 per cent.

Compare this to the average for all Australian farms of a 2.5 per cent productivity jump. However, the annual terms of trade for grain farmers are declining. The key to survival for the industry has been to achieve much greater diversity, in terms of the crops grown and planting options.

On the other hand, survey results suggest an easing of productivity performance over the past four years. This seems to be driven by the growth in inputs rather than by any decline in outputs.

Members of the GRDC's Productivity Trends Program are program leader James Ridsdill-Smith (Western Region), Bob Freebairn (Southern Region) and Ray Hare (Northern Region), Mike Taverner (program consultant) and Brondwen MacLean (program officer).