Government planning a boost for food tourism

Posted by Editorial on 19th March 2009

The Federal Government has launched a project to investigate what drives food tourism and look at ways to help the industry expand.

Food tourism, or agritourism, can include food and wine trails, farm stays and farmers’ markets, outback adventures, working holidays on farms, conservation volunteering and processing plant tours. It is already an integral part of many regional economies, including in the Tamar Valley in Tasmania; the Harvest Highway in Western Australia; the Hawkesbury, Orange and Northern Rivers in NSW; Kangaroo Island in South Australia; Darling Downs in Queensland and Gippsland in Victoria.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said agritourism allowed farmers to diversify their income by selling directly at the farm gate or local markets.

The project, to be run through the Bureau of Rural Sciences, will look at:

* A national overview of the trends in agritourism, including locations and characteristics of agritourism and the impact on agriculture;
* What makes a successful agritourism enterprise;
* Whether agritourism has contributed to more resilient local communities;
* How Government policies can help the industries to grow.

It will be funded under Australia’s Farming Future and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Mr Burke believes agritourism will become even more important as climate change and the global downturn continued to place pressure on primary producers.

“Agritourism brings consumers closer to understanding the source of their food,” he explained. “We already know our farmers produce the best quality food and this is another way to value-add to their fresh products. I’ve met with people involved in food tourism, including in the Northern Rivers in NSW, and have been impressed with their innovation and success.”

“Farmers are dealing with pressures including the drought, the global recession, the high global price of fuel and fertiliser and the threat of climate change,” Mr Burke noted. “We will continue to look for ways to add value to fresh farm produce, find or expand consumer markets and promote our food industries.”