Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce criticised the haters of the agriculture sector last week after figures were released about the importance of the industry to Australia’s economy.
Speaking at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences Outlook conference, Mr Joyce said Australia’s economic growth pace should silence the ‘snobs’ who mocked the farming sector after a national accounts report released recently showed agriculture, forestry and fishing production rose 8.3 per cent in the December quarter.
According to the report, it was the strongest performance of all industries and more than double that of mining, which was in second place at 3.4 per cent.
The Federal Government’s commodity forecaster is predicting further good news for the agricultural industry, with the value of farm production to set a record of $63.8billion for the 2016-17 financial year.
‘‘This is an important economic reminder to those who seek to disparage and ridicule our agricultural resource sectors,’’ Mr Joyce said.
According to The Australian, Mr Joyce said city folk did not appreciate the work regional Australians did.
‘‘It was the sweat of regional Australians which saved the national economy, an impact that those in the cities don’t have enough appreciation for,’’ he said.
Strathmerton farmer Andrew Wilson said it was good recognition for the sector.
‘‘It’s about time someone recognised the value of agriculture for what it is. I’m happy to see these comments out there and it’s good to see that we are keeping the country afloat,’’ he said.
Peter Lawless, from Burramine (west of Yarrawonga), agreed it was good that the industry was being acknowledged.
‘‘I certainly don’t disagree with them. It shows how important the agricultural industry is to the economy of Australia.’’
Despite Mr Wilson and Mr Lawless backing the Deputy Prime Minister, Robert and Marilyn Danieli from Kyabram had other ideas about Mr Joyce.
‘‘It’s easy to hide behind the numbers. The agricultural sector has been neglected for years. He (Barnaby Joyce) makes a song and dance about agriculture but does basically nothing,’’ Mr Danieli said.
The value of farm production is expected to be slightly lower in 2017-18, at $61.3billion.
But ABARES executive director Peter Gooday said this would still be 17.3 per cent higher than the value average for the five years to 2015-16.