NEW investors and funds are starting to flow into the beef game, fast-tracking technologies and cutting-edge methods in a way that is likely to boost profitability right along the supply chain.
Growing consumer and community interest in environmental protection is also serving as a catalyst to boost innovation, and the 'great sustainability drive' is not only delivering production improvements but further generating investor interest.
The trend has been identified in Rabobank's latest Beef Quarterly, which said the increased investment was coming from entrepreneurs, venture capital, established agri companies and operators in animal supply chains themselves.
Rabobank senior analyst Angus Gidley-Baird said livestock, particularly extensive operations, had been the poor cousin to other agricultural industries that had received a lot of research investment attention over the past decade.
"But via industry conversations and contacts, we are hearing there is more interest emerging in becoming involved in the livestock innovation space," he said.
Social and environmental factors were the other main catalyst driving increased innovation within beef supply chains, the Rabobank report said.
Companies across the sector were looking to invest heavily in research that would help produce better environmental outcomes, Mr Gidley-Baird said.
"Sustainability is a concept beyond the individual or industry return now. It's a societal benefit that creates interest from additional players," he said.
The Rabobank report listed genetics, genomics and breeding, along with improved nutrition and feed additives, data analysis and landscape management as areas where cutting-edge developments were occurring that were likely to have big impacts going forward.
The report said there had always been plenty of innovative thinking around productivity improvements in beef but bringing those new ways to market had long been a hurdle, largely due to an inability to deliver the benefit direct to those bearing the cost.
"The focus on sustainability, in particular the setting of goals by beef supply chain captains, may start to change the alignment between costs and benefits. This is one reason more entrepreneurs and investors are focusing on improving productivity and sustainability in beef supply," the report said.
And while the capital being directed towards agtech in the chase for environmental outcomes is yet to flow direct to the farmgate in a meaningful way, farm finance consultants say it is the obvious next step.
Livestock producers need to educate themselves on environmental and social governance credentials and ensure they are on the right side of the equation and thus positioned to attract capital, Ian Robinson, from rural agribusiness specialists Robinson Sewell Partners, Wagga Wagga, said.
National Australia Bank has also been urging farmers to 'think sustainability' as a means to grow investment.
The bank has been working on developing sustainability metrics to help producers leverage their measures in this space financially.
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