The current statistics regarding agriculture and farming indicate rising numbers of people are leaving rural areas and changing their lifestyles.
In 2012, Australia celebrates the Year of the Farmer, a chance to pay tribute to the important role that farming and agriculture plays in our economy and society, and the unique place it holds in our cultural heritage.
The events associated with the Year of the Farmer aim to establish closer links between Australia’s rural and urban communities, celebrating the range and quality of Australian farm produce, and highlighting the role of Australian agriculture in maintaining national and global food security.
Farming has been a major contributor to the Australian economy since the earliest days of European settlement. In the first half of the 20th century, agriculture accounted for around a quarter of the nation’s output and up to 80% of Australia’s exports. (Endnote 2) Such was the importance of agriculture, particularly wool production, to Australia’s prosperity that the country was said to “ride on the sheep’s back”.
In recent decades, the growth of other industries, including a thriving services sector, has seen a relative decline in Australia’s reliance on agriculture. While this is consistent with trends in other developed countries, Australia’s agricultural output as a proportion of the economy is among the highest in the OECD.