The Queensland agriculture sector, its farmers and rural communities are no stranger to significant and continuing challenges. It’s this tenacious and resilient spirit that has seen them deal with the devastating impacts of natural disasters, industry threatening biosecurity incursions, and farm profitability pressures from increasing energy and water costs. The current coronavirus pandemic is no different as it affects the agricultural workforce and supply chains. So, in these uncertain times, it’s important to reflect on the crucial role agriculture plays in feeding, clothing and providing amenity for Queenslanders, Australians and people across the world.
Queensland’s 18,401 farm businesses produce some of the highest quality food, fibre and foliage in the world. Our farmers account for about 24 per cent of Australia’s overall production value, making us the number one agricultural state in the country. The sector is worth almost $20 billion to the state’s economy and represents 15 per cent of Queensland’s total exports. On the jobs front, agriculture employs over 300,000 Queenslanders across the whole food supply chain, meaning roughly one in seven Queenslanders are employed by the food sector that supplies the produce on the Queensland dinner table each evening.
Although the current coronavirus pandemic may present challenging times ahead for our sector, optimism is only increasing. Queensland farmers are enjoying renewed spirits with the latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey revealing recent rain has catapulted Queensland farmers’ sentiment to the most positive in the country. A total of 57 per cent of Queensland producers now have a positive outlook on the coming year, up from just 19 per cent with that view in late 2019.
Tough times don’t last but tough people do. Queensland farmers have shown time and time again that they can overcome and succeed in the face of difficulty and this time won’t be any different. With the Queensland Government confirming the agriculture sector as an essential service, we have an essential role to play in supporting our state and nation, one we can only do as a unified group. A house divided against itself cannot stand, at this time more than any other we must all be pulling the same direction to ensure a bright future for Queensland agriculture.