Council recognises that our farmers, producers and growers are pivotal to our community and the region’s economic growth and are an essential part of what makes Hepburn Shire and the Central Highlands so prosperous and unique.
Between December 2020 and January 2021, Council conducted its first Artisan Agriculture Pulse survey to gather information from our artisan agriculture businesses and to understand the needs of the sector.
There were 79 responses received and these will assist Council, the Project Advisory Group and the wider Central Highlands Local Governments to determine how the project can best support our farmers and producers to thrive and become a socially, environmentally and economically viable sector.
Council have now produced a one-page summary of the high-level responses and a further detailed survey report is currently being compiled.
It was encouraging to see that almost 50% of our farmers and producers were engaging in regenerative farming practices and taking active steps to mitigate climate change and care for the land.
In was also noted that the region had a rising proportion of young farmers compared to other regions with over 17% of those surveyed under the age of 35. This information provides a great insight into our region’s future growth and prosperity.
The survey revealed that the main activities in the region were sheep, cattle and grain production with an expansion into apiculture, cider, wine, pig and poultry. Fruit and vegetable production were strongly represented in the small-scale sector across the Shire. A large proportion of farmer/producer income is derived from the sale of retail food, beverage related products and contracting services. A good proportion of producers are engaged in value-adding, have some source of off-farm income and over 50% of farmers/producers are sole operators.
Many of those surveyed were either in the new entrant, developing or growth phase of their business. This demonstrates that the Artisan Agriculture Project has an incredible opportunity to support these local businesses to build through addressing the main barriers indicated in the survey.
We understand that some key challenges to growth of the sector include cost of land, planning barriers and restrictive food regulations. While the project itself may not solve these issues, the aim is to initiate opportunities to help navigate these challenges through community and producer-based solutions.
Download the one-page Artisan Agriculture Survey Summary.
We would like to extend our thanks to everyone that participated in the survey, your input has been invaluable.
For further information please contact Sharon Hebbard on E: email@example.com M: 0456 610 261