NEW forecasting showing record Australian grain production numbers - despite impacts of severe weather and flooding during a delayed and disrupted harvest - makes good headlines.
However, Grain Producers Australia (GPA) believes the headline numbers mask some serious structural issues faced by growers on the ground, which impact productivity and need to be urgently addressed.
Fixing these problems will also help to deliver greater economic returns and shared benefits for rural communities and the national economy, while boosting future resilience and sustainability.
The ABARES Agricultural Commodities and Crop Reports released last week showed this year's winter crop is forecast to be more than 62 million tonnes - the second largest on record.
The forecaster also said Australian agricultural exports have benefitted from the "amazing crop yields and high commodity pricing" to deliver a record return of more than $72 billion in 2022-23, with overall agricultural production set to reach $85b.
GPA chairman and Miling grain producer Barry Large said while it was important to celebrate success - all the talk of high numbers and record crops made it too easy to overinflate the industry's actual performance, and gloss over some serious issues that need immediate action.
"On the ground growers are facing some serious challenges harvesting and delivering the most expensive crops we've ever planted due to record high input costs," Mr Large said.
"We're seeing unprecedented road damage and pothole proliferations from the flooding, further impacting existing supply chain problems.
"This is also having serious impacts on community safety and adding to the production risks many individual growers already face, in different regions.
"That's why GPA has called for urgent action and funding to improve safety and enhance the efficiency of grain deliveries from farms to grain delivery sites."
Mr Large said GPA had also been advocating growers' long-standing concerns about competition issues in the grains supply chain and issues with pricing disparity and transparency.
"These ABARES numbers sound big, but if you scratch below the surface and drill down into the detail, it's obvious a lot more work needs to be done, to deliver genuine, lasting value," he said.
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"Farmers need to optimise returns in the good years because we know the bad ones will come around again.
"Having reliable and efficient infrastructure is critical to our resilience and sustainability and lowering freight charges, which is a significant cost to doing business.
"Having a supply chain that's fit-for-purpose and keeping pace with increasing grain production onfarm and improving yields will help to ensure our farmers and our communities are more resilient."