The OECD has released it's annual survey of national agriculture subsidy levels by OECD members. While internationally, farm subsidy levels have been lower in 2010 due to the relatively high commodity prices, Australia and New Zealand farmers receive the lowest levels of subsidies of any farmers, and Australia is right at the bottom when it comes to total expenditure on agriculture as a proportion of national GDP.
The OECD compiles national farm sector subsidy data on an annual basis, in order to provide an international comparison of farm subsidy levels, and to encourage OECD nations and others to reduce farm subsidies and distortions to agricultural trade. In its report just released for 2010, New Zealand farmers received the lowest levels of subsidies of any nations farmers (averaged over the 2008-2010 period), with an estimated 1% of their farm income being generated through subsidies, trade restrictions or other forms of government support. Australian was ranked second lowest, at 3.2% of farm income derived from government support measures averaged over this period. This compares to an OECD average of around 20%, and a high for Norway of 60%.
When agriculture sector support (including subsidies to farmers, subsidies to consumers and government R&D contributions) is measured in terms of government outlays to the sector as a proportion of national GDP, Australia had the lowest level, with outlays to agriculture equivalent to just 0.12% of GDP. This compares with an OECD average of 0.85%.
The data actually overstates current support levels in Australia, because it is reported as an average of the 2008 - 2010 years - during the earlier years of this period the drought subsidies being paid to farmers were higher than in the current year. For the 2010 year, subsidies and support for Australian farmers were equivalent to just 2.23% of farmers income.
Next time someone telly you Australian farmers are just whingers who are always on the Government teat, tell them they're dreaming!