Plains of Plenty: Farms Not Coal
The Liverpool Plains is one of Australia’s most productive agricultural regions, producing 40 percent above the national average in agricultural output.
Farmers on the Liverpool Plains produce wheat (used in pasta, flour, bread, cakes and biscuits), corn, sunflower seed products (such as oil and seeds), canola (for oil), sorghum (used in flour and animal feed), barley (for feed and beer malt), chickpeas and legumes and other specialist crops as well as beef, lamb and wool and cotton.
The Liverpool Plains spans around 1.2 million hectares of the north west slopes and plains of New South Wales—stretching west of The Great Dividing Range to The Warrumbungle Range.
The local topography, climate, and geology mean the area is not only ideal for farming but is also abundant with many species of native flora and fauna, including the koala.
The fertile soils of the region, combined with the favourable climate and unique aquifer system enable year in year out production of both winter and summer crops.
- Annual production of cotton in the Liverpool Plains is 1,285,178 bales (based on 2012–13 figures)—that could make around 276 million pairs of jeans.
- 29,018 tonnes of corn is enough for 58 million boxes of cornflakes, and that’s how much corn the Liverpool Plains region produced in 2012–13.
- Each year, farms on the Liverpool Plains produce 233,000 tonnes of sorghum. That’s enough sorghum to produce 62.5 million packets of pasta.
- In just one year, Liverpool Plains farms can produce enough barley for 144 million bottles of beer.
The Liverpool Plains region is threatened by coal mining. Chinese state-owned mining company Shenhua is seeking to develop an open-cut coal mine project at Breeza on the Liverpool Plains.
Shenhua don't have the greenlight to mine coal on the Liverpool Plains yet, but during the exploration and planning process have already bought many farming properties. In 2011 The Australian reported Shenhua had spent $213 million purchasing 43 farms.
Many local farmers, including Andrew Pursehouse whose farm neighbours the proposed coal mine site, fiercely oppose the mine proposal and are fighting to stop it.