Sydney, Australia – Cotton Australia has welcomed the Australian Government’s investment commitments and infrastructure-led approach defined in the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.
Cotton Australia General Manager, Michael Murray, says that investment in water and energy infrastructure, new cotton processing gins and a secure workforce are key to unlocking cotton’s commercial production potential in Northern Australia.
“The White Paper puts the Government and agricultural sectors on a solid footing that enables the cotton industry to capitalise on the opportunities available to our north,” Mr Murray says.
“Approximately 40% of Australia’s average annual cotton crop was produced in Queensland in 2013/14 – from the Central Highlands to the Border Rivers – representing more than $850 million dollars in value for the state in export earnings.”
“Government investment in the supply of reliable energy and water sources, and efficient transport and freight links have the potential to incentivise investment in cotton ginning facilities further north of Queensland’s traditional cotton production areas, and right on the doorstep of the world’s textile manufacturing market.”
Mr Murray says that while the industry welcomes the focus on the north, implementation plans should not have any net impacts on other farmers to the south and their profitability.
“Some of Australia’s existing cotton communities in Queensland and NSW are feeling the impacts of water recovery as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan,” Mr Murray says.
“Water recovery means that these communities are underutilising their existing productive farming and irrigation infrastructure. Cotton Australia hopes that the soon-to-be-released Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper drives the full utilisation of these resources.”
Mr Murray says that northern farmers, like all farmers, will choose their crops based on commodity prices, water and energy availability, and their proximity to processing facilities and export markets.
“It will be the combined results of research and development and Government and private investment that will allow for northern farmers to consider cotton as a part of their summer crop rotations,” Mr Murray says.
“A concerted research and development effort is essential to ensuring northern farmers have access to the right seed technologies and varieties that respond to the unique climate conditions of the north so growers can optimise yields, respond to biosecurity threats, and drive efficiencies and farm-gate profitability.”
“The Australian cotton industry has a long-standing commitment to research and development-driven continuous improvements, realising a 40% increase in water use efficiency over the last decade, a 95% reduction in insecticide usage in the last 15 years, and it takes 30% less land to produce one tonne of cotton lint compared to 15 years ago.”
“Our growers are proud of their efforts to follow modern best practice techniques on their farm to produce some of the highest quality, highest yielding cotton in the world, using fewer natural resources than ever before.”
“The cotton industry’s scientists and researchers are well placed to drive the industry’s northern development into the future,” Mr Murray says.
Cotton Australia also supports the Government’s determination to secure a reliable and skilled agricultural workforce for the north.
Cotton Australia is the peak representative body for Australia’s cotton growing industry.
Source: Cotton Australia