Australian cotton report tells social impact story
Australian Cotton report provides snapshot of industry contribution to local communities.
The report, Cotton with a Conscience, examines the contribution that cotton makes to our economy, the investment in the health, safety, education and prosperity of its workforce, and the ways in which cotton community businesses and individuals give back locally through financial, time and in-kind contributions.
- Cotton is a major Australian agricultural commodity comprised of up to 1,500 cotton farms across 150 regional communities.
- Australia’s cotton farmers produce enough cotton to clothe 375 million people each year.
- It takes 97% less pesticides, 48% less water and 34% less land to grow a bale of Australian cotton, compared with 1992.
- The cotton industry employs around 12,500 people in non-drought years.[i] During the growing season, each farm provides employment for 9.6 people[ii] and has 33 best management practice standards covering worker health and safety.
- 90% of cotton growers are involved in at least one community-based activity, with 6 in 10 involved in some way on a monthly basis.[iii]
- 23% of cotton growers are women with 60% working in key industry organisations.[iv]
- The average annual gross value of seed and lint production between 2014–2019 was $1.8 billion.vi Value ($/bale): 2018 – $541/bale; Cost of production: $299/bale.[v]
According to the report, cotton growers must continually innovate and adapt in the context of a global economy, technological advances and a more variable climate.
The industry invests in the adaptability of its people to mobilise resources, manage risk and uncertainty, improve their skills in planning, learning and reorganising, and practice financial and emotional flexibility in the face of change.
Cotton represents 30-60% of the gross value of total agricultural production in regions where it is grown.[vi] In the five years to 2018, average profitability of growing irrigated cotton grew by 76% due to high prices and yields and favourable exchange rates.[i]
Cotton growers contribute to the economic viability of their communities and reported spending 93% of their business expenses in the local area and/or nearest regional centre.iii
Carrick Aland Farming on the Front Foot
Local region cotton insights
- Drought has enabled the cleaning and expansion of dams.
- Drought has allowed time for a review of water capture techniques to ensure maximum efficiency when it does rain again
- There has also been significant expenditure on land forming to ensure the best flow of water across a paddock in either a rain event or during watering.
As far as this upcoming season goes, a low level of material change is expected in regard to general farming practises. Most major improvements have been done in the last 5-10 years, for example improving technology, dam desilting, water capture and paddock application, etc.
Most work has been on monitoring and improving soil health – managing fertiliser application and adjusting rates of application, etc that work best with the different soil types across properties.
In the last few seasons, signs of a new disease in cotton around the area that doesn’t have a known treatment have been noticed. Agronomists and pathologists have been taking samples, testing and conducting further researching.
Growth in the industry
Cotton is still a reliable source of income and local growers have been able to produce successful crops through the years of drought.
In the past few seasons there has been investment in new technology, in particular the round bale cotton picker. This has saved time and cost at harvest, improved workplace health and safety surrounding harvest and the smaller round bales are convenient for freight/transport to gin and handling.
Investment in lateral irrigation across some farms has also allowed growers to use water more efficiently (particularly as the seasons vary so much year-to-year) and has resulted in higher yields.
Industry benefits to the local economy
In the last financial year, local cotton growers reported high spending in Toowoomba and the Darling Downs, some as much as 90% of their business expenses.
Decisions are easier with data
With improvements in live data, farmers now have access to more information than ever. From crop tracking to farm budgeting and forecasting, Carrick Aland works with growers to confidently plan and forecast using real-time data as conditions change. Call us in Dalby, Toowoomba or Chinchilla on 07 4669 9800 or read Cotton with a Conscience here »
Copyright 2020. Carrick Aland Rural and Small Business Financial Specialists
[i] 2019 Australian Cotton Sustainability Report
[ii] 2018 CRDC Grower Survey
[iii] 2019 CRDC Grower Survey
[iv] Australian Bureau of Statistics Census Data 2016
[v] Boyce Australian Cotton Comparative Analysis 2018
[vi] CRDC Designing a Future for Australian Cotton 2014