Agriculture has always been and is likely to remain for some time, an important component of the Australian economy. While agriculture contributes just 2.3% of GDP, its diminishing importance is not the result of any reduction in output but rather to the growth in manufacturing and the service-based sectors of the economy.
Today, more than 307,000 people are employed in agriculture. Agriculture is the biggest employer in rural and regional communities, but if we consider all those employed in the input and output sectors, food manufacturing and processing, distribution and retail, agriculture provides employment for more than 1.6 million Australians.
Today, Australia’s 135,000 farmers produce enough food to feed 80 million people. Not only do they provide 93% of the domestic food supply, but it supports an export market valued at more than A$41 billion per annum – that’s over 13% of export revenue, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).
By value, ABARES figures show the major commodities are grains and oilseeds (29.8%), meat (24.0%), the industrial crops (sugar, cotton and wine)(13.5%), wool (7.0%), dairy (6.6%) and horticulture (4.5%).