Australia holds first ever National Agriculture Day
Australia has celebrated its inaugural National Agriculture Day, to celebrate the contribution farmers make to society and the economy.
To mark the occasion, the National Farmers Federation has released its "Food, Fibre & Forestry Facts: A Summary of Australia’s Agriculture Sector" which has found that last year Australian farms surpassed $60billion in farm gate income and that total could to rise to $100billion by 2030.
Out of the total food and fibre Australian farmers produced last year, 77 per cent, or $44.8 billion was exported. Horticulture made up six per cent of Australia's total, behind meat and livestock at 29 per cent. Quite promisingly for the industry, food imports accounted for only 15 per cent of household food consumption.
“Our farm sector punches way above its weight in its contribution to the economy, our society and the environment," National Farmers' Federation President Fiona Simson said. “We live in one of the most urbanised countries in the world, but that doesn’t mean food and fibre production should simply be ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Agriculture is an essential ingredient in every meal on our plates, and every natural fibre on our backs."
There are 85,681 agricultural businesses in Australia with New South Wales having the majority of the farms with 26,124, or 30.5 per cent. Victoria is next with 24.2 per cent of Australia's farms, despite holding just 10.6 million hectares of agricultural land, compared to Queensland which has the largest area of 127.5 million hectares.
In 2015–16, all states except Northern Territory showed an increase in production, and Queensland was the highest contributing state with an increase of 12 per cent.
As of May 2017, 304,200 people were employed in the Australian farm sector, accounting for about 3 per cent of the national workforce, and across the supply chain agriculture powers 1.6 million jobs.
The dried fruit sector has 654 growers, in the Sunraysia, Swan Hill, Riverland and the Bindoon region. 98 per cent of Australia’s dried grapes are produced in the Mildura region. Total Australian dried fruit exports in 2015–16 totalled 5,000 tonnes and was valued at $19.4 million. On average, each Australian eats 3.08 kilograms of dried fruit per year.
The report also found that Australian farmers are among the most self-sufficient in the world, with government support for Australian farms representing just one per cent of farming income, compared to Norway, which has 62 per cent support.
Photo: NFF CEO Tony Mahar with Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Hon Luke Hartsuyker at a National AgDay event
The agriculture industry has benefited from a number of announcements in the lead up to this day, including $206,000 from the Federal Government for the development of leadership and advocacy capability across agricultural representation.
While the National Food Waste Advisory Group unveiled a more focused strategy to reduce food waste. Ms Simson said it was estimated that overall on-farm losses represented about 10 per cent of gross food production, valued at $4billion.
“The loss of fresh produce during agricultural production and in households during consumption constitutes the largest waste of food in Australia,” Ms Simson said. “All too often fruit and vegetables that do not meet required specifications by retailers are cast aside. For example, bananas and mangoes that are too small, but otherwise perfectly okay, or cucumbers that are not a uniform shape. This is not only a loss of nutritious food that could help feed Australians it is a hit to the bottom lines of farmers who have spent time and money producing these crops.”
Led by the NFF, AgDay is a national celebration of
Australia’s farm sector, that occurred for the first time on 21 November 2017, which is a broad collaboration between industry groups, corporate Australia and government.
Publication date: 11/21/2017
Author: Matthew Russell
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