Research claims mining boom robbed agriculture of billions

THE mining boom and rise in the Australian dollar have stripped $61 billion from potential agricultural exports since 2003, new research from The Australia Institute showed on Monday.

In a paper called Still beating around the bush, TAI researcher Matt Grudnoff also argued that the rural sector lost $18.9 billion of export earnings in 2011-12 alone.

Mr Grudnoff argues that the high export earnings of the mining boom had pushed the Australian dollar up from about US70 cents in 2003 to above parity in recent years.

This had also pushed the nation's terms of trade to record levels in the past 10 years, affecting all other major export industries, including agriculture.

"The rural sector is heavily reliant on export earnings," Mr Grudnoff wrote.

"In 2011-12 it exported almost $40 billion worth of produce, but in Australian dollar terms this has been reduced by $18.9 billion.

"This represents a decrease of 47% in export income because of the high exchange rate attributable to the mining boom."

The paper emphasises the wider macro economic effects of the mining boom, arguing if the Australian dollar remained at 2003-04 levels for the following eight years, an extra $61 billion would have been earned through agricultural exports.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics also show the rural export earnings rose from about $26 billion in 2003-04 to $34 billion in 2011-12.

In the same figures, as the mining boom grew, Australia's gross domestic product earnings rose from $859 billion in 2003-04 to $1474 billion in 2011-12.



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