Over the past 45 years, Australia has lost over 15 per cent of its pastoral and farming estate.
The numbers are clear. Over time, less and less of Australia’s land has been dedicated to agriculture and more and more is being demanded of the land that remains.
The data shows a consistent trend of diminishing agricultural land since 1976 when Australia boasted nearly 490 million hectares that was either arable, dedicated to permanent crops or suitable for grazing.
About half of the loss of agricultural land occurred between 2005 and 2009. An area roughly the size of Germany (about 36 million hectares) was lost as a direct result of the State Labor government policies.
So where did the “agricultural” land go? Almost all of it was lost to conservation parks.
More than 21 million hectares (an area roughly comparable in size to Britain) shifted into a classification called “conservation and natural environments”.
Meanwhile, the area of land dedicated to “intensive” use, the high value 10 per cent of Australia that has the soils and water for cropping or horticulture, has been slowly targeted by the planners for the ever-increasing march of urban growth, roads, industrial land and now wind and solar farms.
While that change equates to less than 3 per cent of the land that was formerly “agricultural”, it has invariably seen the loss of the high production intensive horticultural food-producing areas located close to the cities.
Bizarrely it’s been Green Left policies and the nation’s growing cities that are eating up our most valuable farms.
Strangely the Greens are also the pro-immigration party that welcomes a big Australia. They are also the same group that would like to shut down most of Australia’s primary production as they campaign for an end to old-growth logging, wild-caught fishing, irrigated agriculture, live exports and the use of big tractors, agricultural chemicals and fertilisers.
Eventually, a growing population with a shrinking farming estate means Australia moves from a food exporter to a food importer, a line we have already crossed with our fishing and forestry industries.