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Aussie farmers contribute billions

27 July 2011

New figures released by the Federal Government show that Australian farmers contributed over $43 billion in gross production value to the Australian economy over the past year, says the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).

NFF President Jock Laurie says the figures show the enormous contribution Australia’s 136,000 farms make to the economy.

“Australian farmers are seriously punching above their weight. Averaged out, these figures mean that each farm is contributing over $316,000 in terms of gross economic value and productivity – not to mention the supply of food and fibre to consumers both at home and abroad,” Mr Laurie said.

“These figures are up $3 billion on the year before, reflecting the end of a decade of drought and more favourable seasonal conditions for many farmers, particularly cotton and wheat farmers in eastern Australia.

“Of course, not all farmers have had a positive year in 2010-11, with floods and cyclones seriously impacting horticulture farmers in QLD and northern NSW, and broadacre farmers in WA battling continued drought conditions.

“But for the first time in many years, conditions have been positive for the majority of Australian farmers and it is pleasing to see the production values reflecting this,” Mr Laurie said.

According to the figures, the highest performing industries in terms of gross production value over the previous year were grains ($10.6 billion), red meat ($10.4 billion) and horticulture ($8 billion).

Mr Laurie said while the figures show agricultural production is increasing, the declining rate of the growth in production is of concern, as the current trend will not meet the requirements of the expected boom in population.

“Australian farmers face a major challenge when it comes to the need to increase production, particularly given limitations to the amount of land, water, labour and other resources available,” Mr Laurie said.

“We are already among the most efficient producers of food and fibre in the world, so an increase in production is dependent on an increase in R&D investment, to help farmers produce more with less.

“These figures are a timely reminder of the important contribution our farmers make, and raise the question as to what the Government and the community as a whole expects from farmers and the agricultural sector in the future, and our role both at home and abroad,” Mr Laurie said.

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