1 August 2012
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, has welcomed Australia’s bumper rice harvest with a visit to SunRice's Leeton Mill today.
“This year’s crop weighed in at more than 960,000 tonnes, or enough to feed at least 23 million people around the world every day for the next year,” Minister Ludwig said.
“That’s good news for the growers and Australia’s rice communities, but also for the world.”
During the drought production dropped to as little as 19,000 tonnes, but this year’s crop continued the success of the 800,000 tonnes of rice harvested in 2010/11.
This has allowed the industry to refocus on its export program where it sells into close to 60 international markets.
Minister Ludwig visited the Leeton Mill with representatives of SunRice and the Ricegrowers Association and said it was pleasing to see such a positive outlook for the industry as it continues to recover from serious drought.
“This industry is an Australian success story,” Minister Ludwig said.
“SunRice is a big employer in this region - creating another 200 jobs over the past 12 months - and continues to have a strong international presence as well.
“The number of people this industry feeds and the products it produces make it a credit to the growers.
“I am pleased to have been in Leeton today – as this region celebrates 100 years of irrigation – and to have seen firsthand the facility that transforms Australian rice into a wide range of products.”
Minister Ludwig said the government’s commitment to rural research and development included matching of industry contributions for rice R&D, which will see the government contribute almost $750 000 in 2012/13.
Last year the government amended regulations to maintain the rice levy at $3 a tonne at the request of industry. This change will ensure industry has sufficient funds to maintain a robust R&D program, which will contribute to further improvements in the Australian rice industry.