Australia has harvested what will be our most valuable winter crop ever. That prediction by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences comes as strong growing conditions and booming commodity prices are expected to help farmers produce a record $81 billion in agricultural output this financial year.
NSW Ports’ Commercial and Business Development General Manager Campbell Mason recently explained how this bumper crop was harnessed, and how we’re planning for the future growth of regional exports, as part of this month’s Across Borders magazine. Read on to learn more and check out other stories from the latest Across Border edition here.
Much of this season’s rich harvest was shipped offshore, driving agricultural exports to a high of $64 billion, according to the bureau’s Agricultural Commodities Report.
The sector is reaping the rewards of decades of productivity growth in a record-breaking year, driven by bumper crop production and the highest prices for Australian agricultural produce in 32 years. That combination of good seasonal conditions and prices are a welcome reward for farmers after many years of toil, from wheat and cotton growers in northern NSW to wine producers and meat exporters in the Riverina.
NSW Ports is proud to be a vital link in the supply chain that brings such high-quality Australian food and fibre to the world.
We work closely with Australian agricultural exporters, from paddock to port, handling millions of tonnes of diversified trade through our key gateways at Port Botany and Port Kembla, supported by several intermodal hubs in metropolitan Sydney, including our Enfield and Cooks River facilities.
Direct rail links and freight connections to our ports drive the export of Australia’s finest regional commodities to global markets, in the most efficient and sustainable way possible.
Almost 90 per cent of regional NSW container exports through Port Botany travel to the port by rail. Port Kembla, the designated location for NSW’s next container terminal, handled more than 13 million tonnes of dry bulk product for export last year, much of which came to the port by rail. Those essential regional rail links eliminate the double handling of containers by trucks, reducing travel times and handling fees while increasing supply chain efficiency for exporters.
As the seasons have turned around, the trade through our ports has naturally grown. Bulk grain exports increased from 15,000 tonnes in 2020 to 3.3 million tonnes in 2021 – an extraordinary and welcome increase for producers and all involved in the trade. The export of containerised grain also increased, more than sixfold, on the previous year.
As the nation’s only container port with on-dock rail directly into each of its three container stevedoring terminals, containers at Port Botany can be transported from paddock to port by rail and onto a ship without needing to be transferred to a truck, saving time and money for exporters and businesses.
To meet the growing demand for rail, NSW Ports is investing more than $120 million to double rail capacity at the Patrick’s facility in Port Botany. This will deliver 33 per cent faster turn-around times, more rail windows for regional trains and decrease reliance on truck transportation.
Further investment, by NSW Ports and terminal operators, will be made to create capacity to handle 3 million TEU (20-foot equivalent units) by rail annually. We also welcome the investment by rail operators in new rolling stock to expand their carrying capacity.
The future looks bright for the people and businesses of regional NSW, with the establishment of major and much-needed developments that will deliver significant benefits to local economies.
Exciting new projects, such as the Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics Hub and the Northern NSW Inland Port, will bring even greater connectivity for exporters in our invaluable regional areas. We fully support such developments and applaud the work of governments and local authorities to bring such projects to life.
A strong agricultural sector makes the nation stronger, as the results of our record winter crop make clear. NSW Ports is proud to play a part in helping our farmers reap such a bountiful harvest.