JOBS: Australian grains industry critical for regional jobs. Pic: Marie Nirme
JOBS: Australian grains industry critical for regional jobs. Pic: Marie Nirme

Grain industry is critical for regional jobs

A NEW report has revealed a strong correlation between Australian grains production and jobs in regional areas – with about one job for every 1000 tonnes of grain produced.

Agriculture being at the heart of the Western Downs economy, and Queensland’s largest producer of sorghum, wheat, oats, barley and mung beans – the study paints a positive outlook for the regions agricultural workforce.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) head of industry and government relations, Justin Crosby, said grains comprise almost a quarter of the value of Australia’s agricultural industry.

“The GRDC’s core business is about investing in research, development and extension to give Australian grain growers the tools they need to be profitable,” he said.

“This report clearly shows that grain growers are the backbone of many of Australia’s regional economies and demonstrates the critical importance of ensuring that they continue to be profitable.”

Mr Crosby says the findings show there is one grain production job for every 1196 tonnes of Australian grain produced.

“The number of grain production jobs – people involved in the growing of grain, which may be in combination with the production of other crops and livestock – increases with raw grain tonnage and gross value,” he said.

“For every 100,000 tonnes of grain produced there are, on average, 87 grain production jobs in the northern growing region of Queensland and New South Wales.

“Grain worth $10 million in gross value generates, on average, 22 grain production jobs in the northern growing region, 41 jobs in the southern region and 17 jobs in the western region (of Australia).”

“At a local government level Toowoomba (Queensland), Western Downs (Queensland), Moree Plains (NSW), Yorke Peninsula (SA) and Esperance (WA) had the most grain production jobs,” he said.

Mr Crosby said while the grains industry continued to be a significant source of Australian employment, the number of grain production jobs fell from 50,707 jobs in the 2006 Census to 34,745 grain production jobs in 2016.

“In the face of tight labour markets in regional Australia, grain growers have been able to adapt through adopting improved technologies and achieving increased efficiencies,” he said.

Mr Crosby said that while it was important to understand the total number of grain production jobs in regional Australia, it was also necessary to understand what proportion of jobs were in grain production in local areas compared with jobs in other industries.

“Regions with a high proportion of grain production jobs, compared with the national average, have a specialisation in grain production and are more dependent on the success of the grains industry for economic outcomes,” he said.

“These ‘specialised regions’ are strongly concentrated in the WA wheatbelt, the Yorke and Eyre peninsulas in SA, the Grampians region in Victoria, central NSW and inland southwest Queensland,” he said.