As the NSW Primary Industries sector continues to manage the impacts of one of the worst droughts on record, it has been heartening to see the outpouring of support our farmers have received from right across the state.
Our farmers and regional communities represent so much more than the pure economic contribution they make to the NSW economy.
Rural and regional life in NSW is part of our collective identity, and when our farmers are battling tough conditions the whole state feels their pain.
But even in the face of these extreme conditions, the results in many sectors underline the continuing strength and future potential of primary industries in NSW.
The NSW Government has committed $1.8 billion since 2015 to ensure our farmers have every assistance in managing their businesses through drought, and we will continue to stand by them so they are prepared to make the most of conditions when they finally improve.
In the meantime, we are focused on finding ways to continue to protect the rights of our farmers to run their businesses safely and effectively, such as the recently passed Right to Farm legislation and amendments to biosecurity regulations.
While some areas of primary industries are experiencing buoyant market conditions despite the drought, I have no doubt the current seasonal conditions are the most pressing challenge for many producers and communities, and for the sector more broadly.
Drought is, and will continue to be, an urgent priority for this Government. We must ensure our farmers and communities know they have our support, and we must ensure that support is fit for purpose and accessible.
I look forward to better seasons ahead for all of us, and I thank our farmers and communities and acknowledge their continued efforts and the valuable contribution they make.
The 2018-19 season has been one of the most challenging in memory, and has affected every primary industries sector in every corner of the state.
The headline figure in this year’s Performance Data and Insights publication - that NSW primary industries achieved an economic output of $15.9 billion - reflects the underlying strength and long-term viability of the sector.
However, that overall story is threaded through with the more personal stories of the innumerable daily battles our farmers have fought - nursing key stock through the season, watching subsequent crops fail, and facing bushfires in the dry conditions.
Like everyone here at the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), I am extremely proud of what our sector has achieved in a very difficult year.
I am also in awe of the continued courage displayed by those individual farmers and farming families that we at DPI have the privilege to work with and stand beside.
DPI is here to build stronger primary industries.
We do this by delivering applied research that boosts the bottom line of farming businesses across the state, and by administering critical drought support measures, and by connecting with the communities, industries and people of NSW.
And even as we continue to stand with our farmers to manage the remainder of the current drought, our focus on delivering solutions to help them make the most of better conditions to come, remains unwavering.