The NSW Farmers’ Association (the ‘Association’) and Sydney Business Chamber, Western Sydney have called on the NSW Government to implement a bold vision to grow the state’s food economy by slashing freight and visitor travel times between Western Sydney and Western NSW to less than three hours.
The Association’s discussion paper, Growing NSW’s Food Economy, highlights how this ambitious vision can be achieved with government coordination of an agri-precinct at the Western Sydney Airport and a commitment to a sub-three hour journey between the Central West, a major food producing region, and Western Sydney, the heart of Australia’s food manufacturing sector.
Sydney Business Chamber, Western Sydney Director David Borger said Western Sydney’s economic future should look beyond the Great Dividing Range and see itself as the economic gateway to the industries and communities in Western NSW.
“Western Sydney is already the centre of Australia’s food processing and manufacturing and the Western Sydney Airport can build on this success and make the region Australia’s hub for high value food production and manufacturing, shipping premium products and fresh food to domestic and global markets.”
President of NSW Farmers’ Association James Jackson said an agri-precinct at the Western Sydney Airport would allow fresh leafy vegetables grown at Badgerys Creek, tomatoes grown outside of Orange and even pre-prepared meals with fresh NSW produce, to be picked and packed and put on Chinese consumers’ plates within 48 hours.
“Given our international reputation for clean and green food, this will mean premium prices for our growers, processors and manufacturers and will create a further 10,000 jobs in Western Sydney.”
The Association commends the work of the NSW Government in promoting an agri-precinct at the Western Sydney Airport, and is encouraging industry participation into making the precinct a reality.
“The biggest impediment to growing the food economy is the inadequate east-west transport connections between the food bowl that is Western NSW, and Sydney. Poor transport connections do not allow the just-in-time food supply chains needed for fresh food exports; jeopardises the international competitiveness of agricultural commodities, by adding 30-40 per cent to the cost of agricultural production; and increases the input cost and competitiveness of food manufacturers.
“A freight journey between Orange and Western Sydney Airport, which is just over 200km, can take close to five hours, by contrast a 300km journey between Sydney and Canberra takes just over three hours. This is unacceptable.”
“That is why we are calling on policymakers to commit to the goal of a sub-three hour journey between Orange and the Western Sydney Airport, and we welcome NSW Labor’s funding announcement of $2.5 million to make this sub-three hour journey a reality,” Mr Jackson said.
The Sydney Business Chamber points out a sub-three hour journey could also open up a lucrative east-west visitor economy starting at the Western Sydney Airport, through the natural heritage of the Blue Mountains, and finishing in the food and wine region of the Central West.
“A sub-three hour journey that facilitates the establishment of the food economy can transform major food producing regions like the Central West into regional economic powerhouses, reinvigorating regional food processing and manufacturing, building on food and wine based tourism, and increasing the value capture of agricultural production.
“Centres, such as Orange and Bathurst should be economic growth centres with populations exceeding 100,000, not populations that fall well short of 50,000. In an age where Sydneysiders are fed up with a lack of transport infrastructure, congestion, and perceived over-population, reinvigorating regional centres is not a nice-to-have, but an absolute must,” Mr Borger said.