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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 1 November 2018) . . Page.. 4684 ..

contributing significantly to our growing tourism industry through both farm tours and the truffle hunt, as well as the restaurant that operates on site, seeing people coming from all over Australia to sample the delicacies.

Once again, I am pleased to have had the opportunity to highlight the importance of our primary producers, an often overlooked economic contributor here in the ACT. I acknowledge them all here today. I thank them for their ongoing hard work and the contribution that they make to Canberra. I also acknowledge the role of the ACT Rural Landholders’ Association in advocating for the needs of rural lessees and primary producers here in the ACT. Long may their work continue.

I look forward to the government actually addressing the drought subsidy package that it has put forward and ensuring that it is broadened to make sure that all lessees who are deriving at least 50 per cent of their income from the land are given the same opportunity and the same assistance that those just minutes away over the border are receiving as they battle through what is a very tough drought period.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Minister for Planning and Land Management, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Advanced Technology and Space Industries) (4.28): I wish to speak today on the importance of supporting our local primary producers in the ACT. I thank Ms Cheyne for bringing forward this matter of public importance. First of all, I want to emphasise the important role of agriculture and rural landholders in the ACT. There are 160 farming families, or rural landholders, that collectively manage 38,887 hectares that account for 15 per cent of the territory’s total land area.

Our rural landholders play many important roles as agricultural producers and stewards of the land. The most important commodities in the ACT, based on gross value for 2016-17, were cattle and calves, at $3 million, followed by wool at $2.2 million and sheep and lambs at $1.7 million. These commodities together contribute 60 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the ACT.

In addition to cattle and sheep grazing, horse agistment and equestrian enterprises are significant businesses in the ACT. However, our rural landholders are a very diverse group, producing a wide range of other agricultural products, including eggs and free-range eggs, chickens, alpacas and lamas. They also produce fruit and vegetables, wine, olives and truffles.

Many of these businesses further diversify the ACT economy through tourism, including Canberra’s cool climate wines and farms in the Majura Valley. I thoroughly enjoyed opening the Majura Valley Bush Festival last year. It offered people a day of farming experiences, with displays of whip cracking, shearing, wood chopping, whip making and saddlery.

Rural landscapes also play an important role in maintaining and improving ecosystems and services in the ACT and region. The ACT government works in collaboration with rural landholders to enhance native vegetation, soil health and water quality in rural landscapes.

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