The NSW Farmers’ Association is calling 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 this 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.
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.
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.
A freight journey between Orange and Parramatta, 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.
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.
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.
- NSW Farmers’ chief economist Ash Salardini