National AgDay is an opportunity to recognise the contribution Aussie farmers and the agriculture sector make to our economy, and to the success of our country. In a year full of uncertainty and challenges, the contribution has been significant.

Although 2021 has seen impacts of the pandemic continue, with global supply chain delays and a number of states experiencing extended lockdowns, the agriculture sector has remained steadfast in its support of the Australian economy.

The sector continues to underpin our economic recovery and it is great to see confidence remaining high – the recent seasonal conditions across much of Australia, fast rising rural property values, record low interest rates and Government incentives like the instant asset write off scheme, have all fuelled ongoing optimism in the sector.

And this is supporting business investment in the sector. Over the past few months we have continued to see significant growth in asset financing for agricultural machinery through this year’s harvest season.

This confidence is good for everyone, and gives us even more reason to celebrate National AgDay!

This year’s National AgDay theme is ‘choose your ag venture’ – highlighting the diversity of experiences and opportunities the industry offers.

For me, it is a very fitting theme, having recently taken on the privilege of leading CBA’s Regional and Agribusiness Banking division. With 20 years’ working in the financial sector across a range of sectors and geographies, I couldn’t think of a better role than dedicating my energy to support regional and agribusinesses.

There are so many roles across the industry that directly support our farmers and the broader supply chain. Careers in engineering, tech, marketing, or even banking – are all necessary to help the sector reach its goal of $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030.

Something that has inspired me in my recent visits to some of our customers are the innovations that are helping increase efficiency within their businesses. As Australia’s leading technology bank, it is exciting to help enable our farmers and growers to deliver more sustainable and profitable outcomes through technological innovations.

Reflecting on the innovations we continue to see across the sector, we’re excited to be working with our customers to develop new initiatives that meet the needs of an ever-changing industry into the future.

Earlier this year, CBA announced Australia’s first Sustainability Linked Loan in agriculture, highlighting the role many farmers across the country are already playing in adopting best practice sustainability and environmental stewardship.

As we continue to help agribusinesses accelerate their transition plans, this week we announced the pilot of a new green loan to support agribusiness customers to invest in environmental initiatives on their properties.

While I may be new to the Regional and Agribusiness Banking role, CBA has been supporting Australia’s agribusinesses and regional communities for over 100 years as they work to sustain the food and fibre of the nation.

Today we take pause, reflect on, and acknowledge all that the agribusiness industry contributes to Australia. So today, on behalf of CBA, I have the privilege to say ‘thank you’ to all of our farmers.

Paul Fowler is the Executive General Manager, Regional and Agribusiness Banking at Commonwealth Bank.