Agriculture is a major contributor to the Australian national economy.

Its 126,000 full-time farmers annually produce $137 billion worth of product, which is 12 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product. Australian agriculture exports approximately $30 billion worth of product annually and provides 93 per cent of the nation’s domestic food supply.

Agriculture and its related industries support 1.6 million Australian jobs. About 50 per cent of these are in capital cities in flow-on industries, such as processing, packaging, transport and retailing.

Efficiency gains through new technologies and farm management practices have enabled Australian agriculture to stay a step ahead of international competitors.

Annual productivity growth in agriculture has been 2.8 per cent over the past 30 years – far greater than any other Australian industry sector. This is, in large part, driven by research and development, on which we spend about $500 million annually.


The outlook for agriculture in Australia is bright. World food security is a big challenge and Australia is positioned to play an increasing role.

The agriculture industry faces the challenges of adjusting productivity to meet climate change and environmental agendas, meeting the cost/price squeeze from changing world markets and maintaining the service and social fabric of our rural areas.

Meeting these challenges requires a continuing flow of knowledge and expertise across all sectors of the industry.

It’s estimated that Australia needs 2000 agriculture graduates per year to continue to drive agriculture forward.

Employment opportunities

  • Production: Employment can be directly on farms or in agribusinesses that service farms. These include farm consultants, agribusiness, commodity market services and financial or banking advice.
  • Research, development and extension: Much of Australia’s productivity is driven by research and development, which ranges from plant and animal breeding; pest, weed and disease management; nutrition; farm systems to farm business economics.
  • Natural resource management: Farmers are our frontline environmentalists; they spend around $3 billion a year on managing pests and weeds, soil, natural vegetation and water.
  • Food services: Farm production is only the beginning; most commodities need to be marketed, processed, packaged, transported and sold.
  • Education and training: Knowledge and skills development is at the core of agriculture’s success (through schools, universities and adult education).
  • Policy: People with agricultural knowledge are sought in the public and private sectors for policy formulation and management, including trade policy, biosecurity, industry policy and commercial advice to companies engaged in agriculture.

Money matters

Graduate salary ranges for selected relevant occupations are as follows:

  • Agricultural consultant: $40,000–$49,000
  • Agricultural scientist: $42,000–$47,100
  • Crop farmer: $44,500–$68,000
  • Livestock farm worker: $25,000–$45,000

(Figures are taken from the Australian Graduate Survey 2008, GCA. Ranges refer to the middle 50 per cent of salaries for bachelor degree graduates with permanent residency, in full-time employment in Australia October 2007 to April 2008.)

(This profile also appears in GCA’s annual Graduate Opportunities directory. GCA would like to thank the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology (AIAST) for assisting with this profile.)

Further Resources