The Australian farmer who’s the world’s most popular farmer is warning of a “cottongate” for the global food supply.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Sunday Times, Johnnie Walker, who owns the Cotton Club, says that the global market for agricultural products is “the most important single sector in the world” and it’s “not sustainable”.
Mr Walker says his business has experienced a rapid growth in recent years, which he says is driven by “a global demand for quality cotton and a demand for affordability”.
The Australian has been told that the number of Australians working in cotton farming has grown from less than 300 people in 2001 to nearly 300,000 in 2016.
He says that while the number is higher now than ever before, he’s not surprised.
“I think the demand for cotton is still growing,” Mr Walker said.
The former cattle farmer says that cotton prices are now at record levels and that the cost of cotton in Australia has risen from less then $3 a kilogram to more than $25 a kilo.
Mr Wilson says that with global demand and prices continuing to increase, Australia’s “carnival of the cotton fields” is now a “huge, huge opportunity”.
“You know, we’re getting cotton in the $40 to $50 per kilogram range, which means we’ve got some pretty good prices, which we’re exporting, and we’re doing that through the Australian market, which is still very fragmented,” he said.
“It’s a very lucrative opportunity.
While it is a bit like a casino for a lot of the other producers in the industry, we are very well positioned, we can afford to do that, he said, adding that his company is “absolutely” on track to achieve $500 million of annual revenue.
Johnnie Walker says the price of cotton has risen by almost 40 per cent in the last 15 years, and the price is still too high for many farmers to compete. “
[I’m] thinking, ‘Wow, I could be making more money, but it will be in the billions, I’m not sure I’m going to make more than that, but I could make it in the millions,'” he said of the massive growth in cotton cultivation in Australia.
Johnnie Walker says the price of cotton has risen by almost 40 per cent in the last 15 years, and the price is still too high for many farmers to compete.
Cotton farmers are being forced to turn to cheaper, more efficient methods of farming.
But Mr Wilson says he believes the problem is one that is being solved in other ways, including “better irrigation”.
According to the National Farmers Union, the cost to grow cotton in a given year has increased by $1.5 billion, and that has come with an increase in yield, which in turn has meant less work for farmers.
It is estimated that a cotton farmer can make up to $30,000 more a year if they increase the amount of land they grow.
With so much money at stake, Mr Wilson said the price he pays for his crop could soon be more than his family’s annual income.
If he were to quit his cotton business, Mr Walker estimates he would be making less than $100,000 a year.
However, Mr Johnnie has not given up hope that his business can survive.
I’m sure there will be a time when we will see another crop of cotton, I said.
But I’m confident in the fact that we have enough cotton and we have the capacity to continue growing, he told The Sunday Mail.
A farmer who has been a staple in Australia’s cotton industry for more than 70 years, Mr Johnston said the company is not going anywhere anytime soon.
His son, John, started his own business in the late 1990s, and says the future of his family business was still in the balance at the time he started the family business.
When he started his family company, he made a very significant profit and then lost it, he says.
Today, he is the biggest shareholder of the company and the biggest beneficiary of the business.
He said it was a very tough time for him, and his son, but he has always believed that the future was going to be a good one for the family.
We’re going to stay here, he joked.
One of Mr Johnston’s daughters, Lucy, who runs her own farm, said the growing demand for organic and sustainable products is good for farmers like her.
She said the future could be brighter for farmers and their families if they were able to continue to be self-sufficient.
What does it mean for us to have cotton in our farms?
We’re growing it ourselves, she said, but that’s not what we’re going for.
Now, farmers like Mr Johnston and Lucy Johnston have to consider whether to keep the business or leave it behind.