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Agriculture & Farming

Agriculture & Farming

Agriculture in North Queensland

Townsville North Queensland is the largest sugar cane producer in Australia and a significant exporter of beef cattle exporting more than 150,000 head of cattle in 2023.

The agriculture and farming industry is a major contributor to employment in the regional towns of Ayr, Home Hill, Charters Towers and Ingham where favourable climatic conditions help make the industry thrive. With strengths across beef, fruit, aquiculture, fisheries and vegetable production, the region continues to play a critical role in addressing global food demand.

With more than 122,000 hectares of irrigated land, and plenty of untapped cropping potential, the region is on the cusp of further growth and export potential from this sector.

Agriculture in North Queensland

The Stats

122,467 hectares of total watered land
$586M Agricultural Exports
3,559 Jobs in Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing in NQ

Top Commodities by Gross Value

1. 11.4M Tonnes of sugarcane produced annually ($472M)
2. 651,262 Head of cattle produced annually ($359M)
3. 42,422 Tonnes of melons produced annually ($37M)

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Learn About Agriculture Careers

Video Stories

Agriculture Careers Agriculture Careers with Claire, Mika and Billie
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Migrant Career Opportunities Migrant Career Opportunities with Jules & Lamberts Fresh Produce
Opportunity for Youth Participation Opportunity for Youth Participation with Breeanna and Hall Contracting

Business Sectors

  • Sheep, Beef, Cattle and Grain Farming
  • Fruit & Tree Nut Growing
  • Nursury and Floriculture Production
  • Dairy Cattle Farming
  • Aquaculture
  • Agriculture and Fishing Support Services
  • Poultry Farming
  • Livestock Management & Farming
  • Forestry & Logging
  • Fishing

Industry Snapshot

Businesses in this industry are mainly involved in activities like:

  • growing crops
  • raising animals
  • growing and harvesting timber
  • harvesting fish and other animals from farms or their natural habitats.

The need for formal qualifications is less common, with around half of this workforce having no post-school qualifications. Instead, practical skills and experience are more highly valued, with many of these skills being learnt on the job. Formal qualifications, though, can be gained through the VET sector which also contributes to this industry’s skills. It is important to note, however, that technologically advanced production systems (i.e. farm automation, artificial intelligence) are becoming more common and the employers who use such systems will require more highly skilled workers.

On-the-job training is common, and many workers do not have post-school qualifications. Although, the number with a university degree has been growing.

Average earnings are $1,053 per week, lower than the ‘all industries’ average of $1,200.

$1,053 Median Weekly Earnings
86.4% Employed Full-time (higher than average of 73%)
8.7% of the North Queensland Workforce
Share of employment by gender

Industry Outlook

The agriculture industry is being transformed by technology. As new technologies and digital solutions change how businesses in the agriculture industry operate, more and more jobs in the industry will become technology related. As a result, the workforce will need to develop and up-skill their digital capabilities in the coming years.

Employment in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing is projected to grow by 16,200 (or 5.1%) over the five years to November 2026.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing is an industry largely made up of workers employed in agribusiness. Most are farmers, living in regional Australia and managing their own properties. This is reflected in the high level of self-employment (around one in two workers, the highest percentage of any industry).
Around 43% of workers are aged 55 years or older (again, the highest of any industry).
Source: National Skills Commission

Top Employing Occupations

  • Livestock, Crop & Mixed Crop Farmers
  • Farm Workers
  • Agricultural, Forestry & Horticultural Operators
  • Bookkeepers
  • Packers
  • Garden & Nursery Labourers
  • Deck & Fishing Hands
  • Agricultural and Forestry Scientists
  • Metal Fitters and Machinists
  • Mill & Factory Workers

Explore & Get Started

Myfuture.edu.au is an extensive career exploration resource for students, teachers advisors and parents to explore personal and career profiles, industry information, occupations, courses, videos and more

PrimeZone is a leader in educational support and resources for teachers, parents and students looking to get into primary industries

AgCareerStart is a 10-12 month paid gap-year program designed to kick-start careers in farming

CareerHavest is a resource for those exploring career opportunities in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Find a Course or Traineeship

TAFE Queensland offers courses in Agriculture and Horticulture as well as support in sourcing apprenticeships and traineeships.

Visit Tafe Queensland

JCU offers a range of courses from undergraduate, postgraduate, online and short courses. Visit the JCU site for pathway and course information as well as the JCU AgTAC site to see how JCU is partnering within the Ag industry.

Visit James Cook University

Tec-NQ is a registered training organisation delivering nationally accredited qualifications through the provision of full time apprentice training, VET in Schools programs, short courses and training.

Visit TEC-NQ

CQ University offers courses in Science, Environment and Agriculture from Cert II to Bachelor and Master’s degrees.

Visit CQ University

MEGT is a great place to find currently advertised traineeships and apprenticeships.

Visit MEGT

Apprenticeships QLD is a website that directs trainees to field based apprenticeships in Queensland.

Visit Apprenticeships Qld

Queensland Government provides assist in finding apprenticeships and traineeships including those that are funded by the Queensland Government. Visit the Queensland Training Information Service (QTIS) or the DESBT website for information.

Visit QTIS

Industry Associations

AgriFutures
National Farmers Federation
Regional Australia Institute
AgForce