National Agriculture Day: looking at production beyond the farm gate

Evie Murdoch, Senior Consultant, KPMG Food and Agribusiness
Evie Murdoch, Senior Consultant, KPMG Food and Agribusiness

The agribusiness industry in Australia is shifting and evolving rapidly. The reach of agriculture has extended beyond the paddock due to today’s connected, educated and demanding population. The importance of food and fibre production is increasing in line with the need to feed both a growing population in Australia and a global market hungry for safe, fresh food from clean, trusted sources.

Technology, innovation and the internet, coupled with improved funding for research capabilities, are fast becoming the most relied upon methods of increasing our production efficiencies in our regional areas, and more recently in distinct, intensive hubs co-located with large infrastructure such as airports.

So what about production beyond the farm gate?

As production increases to support demand for fresh food, so too is the business of agribusiness. As the economy, environment and international drivers shift and change, the carryover effect upon the supply chain after the farm gate is shifting too. There is a distinct opportunity for us to support this business beyond the farm gate as well as drive efficiencies, improve accessibility and generate traceability and provenance.

There is so much more to it than the plate of food in front of you.

A little bit on me

With a family history rich in agriculture, and a passion for farming, I am a woman set on making a difference. Studying agricultural science at university was my first step. I am not the only one either, agriculture graduate numbers are rising steadily as more young people are recognising the need to help build the industry.

But upon graduating, it wasn’t back to the farm for me – a misconception that this is what most graduates do in ag. Instead, it was straight to the office at Barangaroo. I wanted to make an impact upon the industry beyond farming. I wanted to focus on up-skilling myself, delivering better analytics and business strategy, solving problems and particularly on the life of produce beyond the farm.

So where did I end up? Consulting.

But what does that even mean? Consulting is such a catch-all title, and particularly in the context of agribusiness. I’m still learning; by no means do I call myself an expert. But, consulting has positioned me in such a way that I am on the frontline of building an industry that is set to grow to $100bn of value by 2030.

Consulting is vital to supporting industry growth

As investment in the industry is surging and there are opportunities to capture increased value from the operational and technical gains being made on the farm, improved whole-of-sector, relevant, commercial guidance and expert assistance is going to help companies capitalise on the opportunities that exist beyond the farm gate. Supply chain organisations (particularly into valuable export markets), policy and government decision-making is going to be vital to the ability of the sector to grow too. Support for new initiatives through funding and effective government policy will be key to seeing the industry flourish.

Ultimately the growing industry is creating opportunities for advisory and consultancy to help find novel solutions for managing the demand for quality food, increasing sustainability, adjusting to international trends and keeping abreast of technological advancement, as well as understanding concomitant policy requirements. It’s a decision I’ve made to not return directly to the farm. Being ‘beyond the farm gate’ has allowed me to leverage my agricultural studies, to be a part of the growth that is occurring in the industry, learn from my fellow experienced colleagues and, ultimately, to help clients realise the opportunities that still lay ahead.

I know that I am bias, since I am clearly passionate about the industry, but it has come so far, and has so far to go! I’m dedicated to making hay while the sun shines, but, for the moment, from the office rather than in the paddock.

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