I have just had a quick trip to the deserts of Utah, Nevada and Arizona for a family celebration. Not much agriculture to be seen there although I am told the Colorado River provides irrigation to some of the areas we did not visit. Finding fresh produce in the US was not that easy although poker machines in Nevada supermarkets were extremely common! As the wise indian saying goes… you can’t eat money… Here is my latest column from AgToday… we have much to celebrate in this year of the farmer.
From the April 2012 edition of Agriculture Today.
Australian farmers supply about 98 per cent of the fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, milk and eggs we buy and eat. The key State and Federal agencies responsible for farming are like-minded in thinking Australia can’t survive without a robust agriculture sector.
That’s reassuring to know at any time, particularly in this Australian Year of the Farmer and particularly when some consumers think (according to a recent school survey) cotton comes off animals and yoghurt is sourced from trees.
Significant statistics from The contribution of primary industries to the NSW economy: key data 2011 report available on the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) website show there are 43,114 farms in the State and 98,075 people directly employed within primary industries.
If the number employed in related and dependant industries is included, the figures are multiplied five-fold to 225,529.
A key role of the newly established NSW DPI Office of Agricultural Sustainability and Food Security will be to develop a NSW position on food security, to contribute to a National Food Plan.
The Federal Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) is coordinating the national plan, which it said would focus on fostering “a sustainable, globally competitive, resilient food supply that supports access to nutritious and affordable food”.
A recently released DAFF report – Australian Food Statistics 2009-10 – said Australia’s food supply was secure and integral to our economic and social prosperity. According to their report, the big picture of agriculture and associated industries “consistently accounts for around 20 per cent of manufacturing sales and service income and in 2009–10 providing jobs for 226,750 Australians in that sector.”
In 2009, Australia ranked as the world’s 14th largest food exporter with bulk wheat, sugar, barley, wine, beef and sheep meat, and live sheep and cattle as our most significant outward bound food products.
Outside the agriculture sector, it’s often more neglected news than old news that we have an enviable reputation overseas for the quality of Australian produce – which underlines the importance of valuing our ability to grow our own food.