As a nation, we rarely stop to consider how important the agriculture sector and our farmers are to the foundations of society. Whether it’s growing safe and nutritious food, fibre and foliage for the country and a growing global population; protecting the environment and providing land stewardship; or creating jobs in regional and rural communities. Queensland’s farm sector is worth celebrating.
Our 24,200 farm businesses account for 24 per cent of Australia’s overall production value, underpin the employment of over 300,000 Queenslanders across the food supply chain and are the backbone of a $20 billion pillar of the economy. Queensland’s cane growers produce more than 30 million tonnes of sugar cane each year, our cotton growers produce 1.4 million bales per year and our fruit and vegetable growers produce 120 different varieties. Every year, Queensland’s nurseries produce more than 640 million plants, our chicken growers produce 145 million birds, and our average dairy farm supplies fresh milk for more than 12,000 people.
National Agriculture Day is chance to reflect on the pivotal role agriculture has played in the country’s history, by celebrating its successes, recognising the challenges and resolving to work towards its bright future. It provides an opportunity to not only celebrate, but also educate the public about the critical role farmers play in feeding, clothing and providing amenity for all Australians. While it has been a difficult year for farmers and rural communities with damaging storms, a protracted drought and food tampering issues, this has led to increased awareness of the vagaries of life on the land and consumers have responded with more conscious decisions about the produce they buy.
As the cost of production and inputs increase, consumers must break the barrier between ethical intent and ethical behaviour. Habitually buying local produce and paying a fair price for it is the best way Queensland consumers can support farmers. By doing so, they will continue to play an active role in helping to build more resilient, sustainable farming businesses and ensure a bright future for Queensland agriculture.