Vol. 17 | No. 2 | May/June 2020

What happens next? Emerging policy responses to COVID-19 impacts on Australian agriculture

The world is a very different place now compared to when the last Insights was released. The February newsletter was released the day after the Commonwealth Government implemented its emergency response plan for COVID-19 and before the first death attributable to the disease in Australia. Ironically, the focus of that edition was disease risk and biosecurity incursions, however I am sure that most people at that stage thought that the devastation wrought upon various fisheries from disease outbreaks was far removed from any analogous threat to human populations. While there is historical precedent of massive pandemics (and indeed recent experience of slightly less globally impactful diseases such as Ebola and SARS), the scale of the disruption caused by COVID-19 has not been seen by most people alive today. (more)



A useful maxim in risk management is to hope for the best and plan for the worst. It applies to agricultural supply chains as with any other sector. Supply chain risks and opportunities post COVID-19 are shaping up to be material and preparation by agricultural professionals will be critical for success into the future. Due to the nature of Australian agriculture, it has vulnerabilities on both the supply and demand side, and agricultural professionals should be aware of the need to support their businesses as they plan for the future. (more)


Rob Gordon, SunRice, and Emma Germano, VFF, offer their views on the short- and long-term effects of COVID-19 for the rice and horticulture sectors. The Q&A covers the causes of food shortages on supermarket shelves; what longer-term policy questions the COVID-19 pandemic will provide an opportunity to address; and whether the pandemic will result in lasting changes in consumer behaviour. (more)


Australia ranks quite poorly for management of biodiversity, and recent natural disasters have further damaged this continent’s fragile biodiversity. Australian farms have an important role to play in improving and protecting biodiverse ecosystems. As research providers for Phase 1 of the Farm Biodiversity Scheme, AFI has spoken to almost 500 people on success factors and obstacles for a proposed scheme. (more)


The capacity of agriculture to support the economy in a countercyclical fashion and provide stability in times of external shock has historical precedent, as explored in the AFI’s inaugural John Ralph Essay Competition in 2010. As noted post-GFC, Australia’s primary industries continue to enable the economic diversity which reduces the risk of a severe and prolonged national economic downturn. (more)