Bumper harvest for rural jobs as agriculture sector ploughs ahead

Queensland’s agriculture sector is growing jobs as well as sugar cane, chickpeas and avocados.

Despite the drought affecting large parts of the state, there’s been a rich harvest of new employment opportunities in agriculture, forestry and fishing in the past 12 months.

Agriculture minister Mark Furner said the sector had created 10,500 new jobs between June 2017 and June 2018.

“The latest Labour Force data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows primary production in Queensland continues to do much more than put food on our plates,” said Furner.

READ: Sheep and cattle slaughter increases to reduce stock numbers during drought

“The new high growth crop for Queensland’s farms is jobs and that’s because our producers and food sector businesses are working hard to take advantage of new opportunities. It is also because the programs put in place by the Palaszczuk government are working,” he said.

Creating jobs for Queenslanders was the government’s highest priority.

“Our produce has a fantastic reputation for quality and reliability both at home and abroad. That is why it is in demand and our farmers are meeting that demand,” said Furner.

The agriculture industry continued to grow on the back of technological advances and the courting of expanding Asian export markets, he said.

“The Palaszczuk government has invested tens of millions of dollars to ensure the produce we send overseas is not only of the highest quality but is also tailored to specific regional tastes, whether that be in markets in Japan or supermarket shelves in Indonesia,” he said.

“We have also continued to support the Queensland Agriculture Workers Network (QAWN) and Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance to support and facilitate employment opportunities for people in rural and regional parts of the state.

“In this year’s budget more than $3 million was allocated to these programs to continue the good work being done in this area,” said Furner.

Carl Walker, president of Bowen Gumlu Growers Association and owner of Phantom Produce, said QAWN was playing an important role in helping producers to expand their workforces.

It assisted growers in the North Queensland region to connect with the available employment and training initiatives, he said.

“As farmers we are able to go about our core business of growing fruit and vegetables, QAWN provides us with an essential information resource to help us to attract and employ people with the right skills and attributes at all stages of the season,” said Walker.

Sheep and cattle slaughter increases to reduce stock numbers during drought

As a result of continued drought in the eastern states, the number of sheep, lambs and cattle being slaughtered has steadily increased as producers in effected regions reduce stock numbers.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show and increase in livestock and meat slaughter for June 2018.

Cattle slaughter increased by 5,700 head – 0.9 per cent. This is compared with the previous month and increased by 47,600 head, or 7.8 per cent, year-on-year.

Calf slaughter increased by 615 head, 1.8 per cent, for the month ending June 2018 – compared with the previous month and increased by 3,300 head, 10.3 per cent, year-on-year.

READ: Australian beef exports have increased in key markets such as Japan and China

Sheep slaughter increased by 47,100 head, 5.7 per cent, for the month ending June 2018 –compared with the previous month and increased by 245,400 head, 39.3 per cent, year-on-year.

Lamb slaughter increased by 29,400 head, or 1.4 per cent, for the month ending June 2018 – compared with the previous month and increased by 226,700 head, 12.2 per cent, year-on-year.

Pig slaughter increased by 706 head, 0.2 per cent, for the month ending June 2018 – compared with the previous month and increased by 12,000 head, 2.7 per cent, year-on-year.

With the drought affecting so many farmers, governments and supermarkets are among those helping to provide funds to drought-stricken areas.

Woolworths is supporting drought affected farmers with a $1.5million funding boost to Rural Aid.

Hundreds of farmers will benefit from the $1.5million investment from Woolworths via Rural Aid’s Buy a Bale program, which provides support to farmers in need by delivering hay for cattle feed, as well as other essential items.

The support from Woolworths will also allow Rural Aid to increase the number of counsellors they have supporting farmers and their families impacted by mental health issues as a result of the drought.

Coles is also giving out $5 million in grants and interest-free loans from its nurture fund to help farmers across Australia combat drought.

In the past year, Coles also provided more than half a million dollars in grants to farmers who applied to the Coles nurture fund to implement initiatives to make them less dependent on rain.


Food retailing led a rise in Australian spending in June

Food retailing led a rise in retail spending in June 2018, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics retail trade figures.

The retail turnover rose 0.4 per cent, which followed a 0.4 per cent rise in May 2018.

Director of quarterly economy wide surveys Ben James said at 0.4 per cent food retailing led the rises, followed by clothing, footwear and personal accessories.

There were also rises for cafes, restaurants, takeaways and household goods.

READ: Aussies spending most of food budget on junk food

Other retailing was relatively unchanged, while at -1.2 per cent, department stores fell in June 2018.

In seasonally adjusted terms, there were rises in Victoria ­– 1.1 per cent, New South Wales ­– 0.4 per cent, Western Australia – 0.2 per cent, the Australian Capital Territory ­– 1.2 per cent, and Tasmania ­– 0.9 per cent.

South Australia at 0.0 per cent was relatively unchanged in June.

There were falls in Queensland at -0.3 per cent, and the Northern Territory at -0.4 per cent.

For the June quarter 2018, there was a 1.2 per cent rise in seasonally adjusted volume terms.

This follows a rise of 0.2 per cent in the March quarter 2018.

The quarterly rise in volumes was led by food at 1.6 per cent, household goods at 1.4 per cent, and clothing, footwear and personal accessories at 2.0 per cent.

Online retail turnover contributed 5.7 per cent of total retail turnover in original terms in June 2018, a rise from 5.6 per cent in May 2018.

In June 2017 online retail turnover contributed 4.1 per cent to total retail.