MILDURA is now “officially the food bowl of Australia” after recording the highest agricultural output in the nation.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed the value of agriculture commodities produced within the Mildura local government area last financial year was $1.33 billion.
It put the region above the only other members of the billion-dollar club, Toowoomba ($1.09 billion) and Carrathool in the Riverina ($1.04 billion).
Almonds, grapes and broadacre farming were the leading contributors to Mildura’s output.
The value of fruit and nuts excluding grapes was $422 million, of which $273 million came from almonds.
Grapes were valued at $324 million, with wine production accounting for $79 million and all other uses – including table grapes – $245 million.
Broadacre crops totalled $250 million, led by wheat ($117 million) and barley ($85 million).
Cook and Mildura councillor Stefano de Pieri told last week’s council meeting the result confirmed the region was a “leading force” in agriculture.
“We are officially the food bowl of Australia, we are No. 1,” Cr de Pieri said.
“We have always thought that instinctively, (now) we are No. 1 with $1.3 billion-plus.
“If we were to add the ($303 million) generated by our cousins over the river in Wentworth, we’ll be over $1.6billion in production.”
Within Wentworth Shire, $108 million came from grapes, with wine slightly ahead of other uses.
Fruit and nuts excluding grapes totalled $94million, with oranges accounting for just over half that figure.
Millewa farmer and Mildura councillor Ian Arney said the figures showed the Sunraysia region was “massive”.
“If you go across into NSW (and) if you go across to Robinvale and talk about Sunraysia (as a whole), we are massive,” Cr Arney said.
“The reason I mention cross-border and Robinvale is because we’re a service centre for those towns, we provide services – it’s significant. They spend money here.
“All the more reason that now that we have a figure like this I hope we can actually use it for traction with state and federal governments.”
The Swan Hill local government area, which includes Robinvale, had an output of $760 million.
Moyne ($974 million), Corangamite ($920 million), Campaspe ($778 million), Greater Shepparton ($729 million) and Moira ($724 million) were the other Victorian municipalities to land inside the nation’s top 15.
– MICHAEL DIFABRIZIO