The Australian Year of the Farmer was launched by the Governor-General of Australia, Quentin Bryce, in October 2011 on the site of Australia’s first farm, Farm Cove, now the location of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. The aims of the year were to celebrate the continuing importance of farming to Australia and to strengthen the connections between rural and urban Australia.
The Australian Year of the Farmer was an idea developed by Forbes farmer Philip Bruem and former Sydney Fish Market chief executive Geoff Bell. It was designed as a tribute to the work of people involved in producing, processing, handling and selling products from 136,000 farms across the country, with publicity pointing out that Australian farms and the industries that support them generated more than $405 billion each year, or 27% of Australia’s GDP.
One of the key aims was to encourage greater understanding of country life by city dwellers. A survey taken at the time showed that 22 per cent of city dwellers never visit rural areas and 69 per cent do so only once a year.
Among the events for the year was an agricultural roadshow, attending more than 900 event days and travelling more than 55, 000 kilometres to visit rural shows, Royal Agricultural Society shows in capital cities and other cultural events. Other events included a national photography competition, careers education materials and a technology and innovation expo.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics published a special report that outlined the history of farming in Australia, along with interesting facts about innovations, productivity and the nature of the farming community.
The National Farmers Federation announced that during Australian Year of the Farmer it would be working with the agricultural industry and the wider supply chain to develop the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture, described as one of the most ambitious and innovative programs ever undertaken to set a road map for the future of the farming sector.