We often hear about the value of Queensland’s agriculture sector from governments, and for good reason given in 2019 we were a $16.99 billion industry despite the ongoing drought. We also often hear about how much of what our farmers’ produce is exported, helping the balance of payments and contributing to the State’s economy at around $12 billion. Agriculture and the food supply chain also employ over 300,000 locals, or roughly one in seven Queenslanders, while many people enjoy its fresh, nutritious and safe produce. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector has ensured food security for Queenslanders and provided a sense of purpose and economic opportunity for many more.
However, what we don’t often hear is a clear, well-articulated vision for the sector. Agriculture has enormous potential to build upon its already impressive record in Queensland, and it is primed for a government willing to seize the opportunities.
Ahead of the 2020 Queensland state election on 31 October, QFF has established a list of policy and regulatory amendments and opportunities as well as industry-led programs required for ‘Making Queensland’s agricultural sector number one’. Five major policy areas have been identified that require urgent action including making Queensland the place to invest; implementing smart regulation to realise opportunities; maintaining, building new and building back better; managing risk and protecting; and ensuring the future of our people and regional communities. Government must guarantee farmers competitive production costs, create and foster an environment that promotes productivity and resilience, and ensure the building blocks and infrastructure that underpin the sector are in place and maintained. Investment in food security, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity is not only low risk but it is critical to the agricultural sector.
QFF urges those vying for public office and the voting public to remember that making Queensland’s agricultural sector number one is not just good for farmers – it is good for everyone. The new government must work alongside industry to achieve our vision, or we risk deterioration of our sector, rather than strengthening this critical economy support structure.