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The value of Melbourne’s foodbowl to the regional economy is significant:

  • Melbourne’s foodbowl  accounts for more than 1.7 million hectares of agricultural land, consisting of a mix of enterprises, most notably vegetables, poultry, dairy and livestock production.
  • It contributes $2.45 billion per annum to the regional economy of Melbourne .

The value under future scenarios:

  • Melbourne’s urban development affects the value of the foodbowl in two ways - less agricultural land leads to lower supply of food, at the same time a growing Melbourne leads to higher food demand. Both mechanisms will drive food prices higher.
  • The threat to the value of the foodbowl from urban development is significant. Under a future of Melbourne at 7 million people, some loss of agricultural land to urban development is expected and the value of annual agricultural output is modelled to fall by between $32 million and $111 million, with higher fresh food prices.
  • A continuation of a recent trend towards preferring more local sources of food increases the value of food production from the foodbowl. Under a scenario where consumers in Melbourne’s foodbowl increase their consumption of local food by a modest amount of 10%, the value of annual agricultural output from the foodbowl is  modelled to be $290 million higher per annum.
  • The ancillary benefits of Melbourne’s foodbowl beyond these quantitative metrics include the insurance value against drought and climate change, the green wedge values associated with land used for farming rather than urban development, and the option value of land use that is retained when land is used for farming
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