Organic and high value farming in Australia creates opportunities in Macleay Valley

The Macleay Valley Food Bowl seeks to build on the valley’s strong foundations in cattle, dairy and cropping whilst invigorating and driving further growth through new and higher-value agriculture production on smaller parcels of land.

The Macleay Valley’s identity has been shaped by a long agricultural history. A map from 1870 shows distinctive settlements of small farms growing maize, pumpkins, potatoes, oranges and poultry – and a drive along the Belmore or Macleay rivers today paints an unchanged pastoral scene. Agriculture is still the region’s life-blood.

Beef, grain and sheep account for most agriculture jobs in the Macleay, followed by fruit and tree nut growing, dairy cattle farming, livestock farming and fishing. Land is predominantly used for grazing.

Of the Macleay’s total gross value of production for agricultural commodities, livestock slaughtering comprises the largest portion, followed by crops and livestock products.

Significant global market demand for both Australian beef and dairy is currently being projected, with local dairy cooperative, Norco, already exporting liquid milk to China. Double digit growth in the domestic regional area is attributed to a shift in consumer behaviour towards valued local brands that support local farmers. Emerging opportunities exist for land owners to provide feed stock to the growing dairy industry.

Opportunities also exist for organic dairy farmers to occupy a niche market, supported the region’s established dairy industry.

There is a strong emerging market for organic vegetables.

The Macleay Valley’s mild coastal temperature and rainfall favours the farming of these products, allowing local producers to meet demand with a steady supply – which could be further advanced by investment in processing and packaging facilities.

Our profiled producers provide examples of local growers struggling to keep up with market demand – particularly for Australian organic produce.

Organic farmers Sweet Water Garlic Farm, Burrawong Gaian Poultry, Macleay Valley Rabbits, Westview Limes and Eungai Creek Buffalo Farm have all experienced significant local and domestic demand.

As Ian Massingham from Eungai Creek Buffalo Farm says, “People are after something special.”

Larger scale enterprises like Clybucca’s Green Leaf farm and Coastal Avocados successfully supply large metropolitan wholesalers with boutique products that grow well in the Valley – in some cases value-adding through the development of on-site packaging and processing.

Macleay Valley Investment Opportunities

Prospective investors are invited to find out more about the Macleay Valley Food Bowl project, which promotes the valley as a reliable, high-quality source of fresh produce.

Kempsey Shire Council is also exploring the option of creating a model farm in partnership with a tertiary organisation to demonstrate the successful production and market demand for higher-value crops than the region has historically produced.

View the Investment Guide for a detailed analysis of the agricultural opportunities in the Macleay Valley.

List of produce compatible with the Macleay Valley

Coffee Ginger Mulloway
Davidson’s plum Hazelnuts Okra
Aniseed myrtle Kangaroo paw Sunflower
Banksia Lavender oil Taro
Black tea Bitter melon Tea tree oil
Euchalypts Industrial hemp Waratah
Finger lime Snail Wool
Game birds Lemon myrtle Californian redwood
Waxflower Beef cattle Red cedar
Red ironbark River sheoak Sandalwood
Silky oak Wheat Barley
Dairy cows Grain sorghum Maize
Meat chicken Chickpea Lentil
Fava bean Meat goats Ducks
Beekeeping Sweet sorghum Dragon fruit
Dairy goats Cultivated seaweed Christmas bush
Cotton Flannel flower Freshwater crayfish