Speaking at a Royal Melbourne Show Society luncheon recently, Ms Purser said more efficiency was needed to provide a good framework for farmers to get the best prices, which in turn will encourage them to expand.
“At present, there is some waste within the supply chain, and the costs in getting products from some of our more remote farming areas to market are high.
“More investment in the supply chain would benefit all industry participants.”
In spite of the call for an improved supply chain, Ms Purser was optimistic about the prospects of Australian agriculture.
“There is real scope for Australia, given its location, to be a real foodbowl for the region.
“Many Asian countries are simply unable to grow all the food they need, and this presents Australia with opportunities.”
She said the ag sector needed to do a better job of selling itself, especially in terms of attracting the necessary skilled labour.
“There’s a real lack of ag graduates, there needs to be more done promoting the diversity of jobs available within our industry.
“People need to know there’s a lot more than just farming in our industry.
“If you don’t want to be based in the country, it doesn’t rule out a career in agriculture.”
She said large companies could help out by providing scholarships for study or running intern programs to allow young workers a taste of the sector.
In term of the debate on government regulation, especially pressing in the grains sector, she said it necessary that regulation allowed businesses to continue to innovate.
“The right regulation can help things run smoothly, but I would agree with Alison Watkins, from GrainCorp, who said it must be applied like Vegemite, thinly and evenly.”
She said the grains sector was in the midst of a transitional period, moving from full regulation to a totally open market.
“At present, we are mostly deregulated, a state that I think is a little like being half-pregnant.”
Ms Purser said Australian agriculture needed to continue to supply the market with what it wanted.
“You look at products such as high oleic canola oil, there is a real demand for it out there, 20 years ago it would not have been thought of.
“That’s what we’ve got to do, try and think what the customer will want in the future and continue to innovate to provide it.”