Read the full ABARES report here.

Here’s a quick overview
This report explores the potential impacts on agricultural trade from the COVID-19 pandemic. For Australian producers, the recent drought conditions and bushfires will continue to dominate production outcomes for the 2019-20 season, with potential improvement due to improved seasonal condition likely for 2020-21.

The COVID-19 pandemic is most likely to disrupt trade through supply chain and logistics disruption that could limit access to imported inputs or limit product reaching final markets.

Global Agricultural policy in response to COVID – 19 and the role of International Organisations

International agricultural trade is crucial for global food security and supports the interests of Australia’s export focused agriculture sector. As a response to COVID-19 some countries are implementing agricultural industry and trade policies to shore up domestic food security and support their rural sectors.

The global supply of staple foods is abundant, and we do not expect a food price crisis due to the sector’s fundamentals. But continued outbreaks of protectionism, particularly the imposition of export restrictions as well as the wider economic effects of the crisis would more likely risk food security in developing nations and be detrimental to Australia’s agriculture export interests. We need to remain vigilant and continue to advocate for open agricultural policies and well-functioning supply chains on all fronts.

Government support packages

The UK government has announced financial support for the English fishing and aquaculture sector ( following Scotland’s last week which was GBP10m for fisheries, with aquaculture businesses receiving support from separate fund). The English package will provide up to GBP10m to both fishing and aquaculture businesses. GBP9 million will be paid as direct cash grants for eligible businesses and the remaining 1m will be to support project to sell their catch locally.

On 17 April, the US announced the US$19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The program includes US$16 billion in direct support for farmers and ranchers where prices and supply chains have been impacted and a purchasing program which will see the USDA purchase US$3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat. The US will use separate funding streams to purchase $US873.3 million of agricultural products for food banks.

The Japanese government approved a stimulus package of A$840 billion, equivalent to 10 per cent of Japan’s GDP in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, a supplementary budget of A$8.19 billion has been proposed to support the agriculture and food sector. This proposal includes, but is not limited to, income support, property tax waivers, tax deferrals and financial support through loans and business support payments. Measures to enable ongoing farm and food operations are also being considered, including securing production, labour and supply. Additional measures to be considered include promotion of domestic sales and marketing stimulus to increase demand for agriculture products, such as the use of timber products in public buildings, issuing of food service vouchers; and campaigns to promote tourism and eating out once the COVID-19 situation enters a recovery phase.

The UK Government announced that it would relax competition rules to allow the dairy industry to work together to manage some of the pressures on the milk supply chain. Previous relaxation of the competition laws, which allowed retailers to work together, also permitted some dairy to be redirected from food services to the retail supply chain. The legislation will be released shortly and could include things such as allowing labour and facility sharing, cooperation to temporarily reduce milk production, and identifying hidden capacity in the supply chain for dairy product production. Dairy farmers have also been encouraged to apply for UK Treasury schemes like the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.