September 20, 2013
A mix of local growers, industry reps, researchers and councillors gathered at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Research Station in Kingaroy on Wednesday to explore the future of crop production in the South Burnett.
The “technical and economic” day was organised by Agriculture Minister John McVeigh and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington to provide growers with up-to-date information about the “tools, tips and technologies” now available to them.
Mrs Frecklington said the fact the conference room was packed demonstrated the extreme importance of agriculture to the Burnett, and across the wider Nanango electorate.
She said the region needed “the viability of agriculture” to go ahead and prosper.
Mr McVeigh told the growers the meeting was not meant to be a “talkfest” but rather the commencement of a comprehensive conversation between DAFF experts and farmers in the South Burnett which would go on for “years and years to come”.
He recognised the challenges that agriculture faced.
“We know that things are tough not only here but in the rest of the State,” he said.
Mr McVeigh said more than 60 per cent of the State was now drought-declared, including areas which had not yet recovered from last year’s floods.
He also briefly touched on the commercial dispute between PCA, Crumptons and Clifton Trading which has commenced mediation.
“I understand the commercial challenges in the peanut industry,” he said.
He said the companies concerned were seeking a way forward.
“I am quite confident that based on what both parties have said … that they are focussed on a sensible, commercial resolution to these issues.”
Mr McVeigh said the State Government had identified a priority of doubling food production in Queensland by 2040.
He admitted that this was “aspirational” but it had been signed off on so it was a real target.
Mr McVeigh said he did not want to play down the challenges however there were four that had to be tackled to achieve this target:
- Increasing resource availability for farmers – to land, water, skilled labour and capital
- Driving productivity across the supply chain
- Increasing market access – eg. live cattle export market; dairy products into China; and
- Minimising the cost of production – getting rid of “red and green tape”; he said the State Government had introduced “sensible vegetation management legislation”; and “common sense approaches” to farming impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.
Mr McVeigh said challenges to the cost of production even came from groups like the RSPCA which had spoken out against cattle sale yards.
“Given that we fund part of their activities I have learned the lesson that money talks,” he said.
Mr McVeigh also emphasised that despite rumours to the contrary, the State Government will be retaining the Kingaroy Research Station.
“We will be growing this facility because that is what we need across the State,” he said.
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Topics covered at the workshop included selecting the right plant and variety, genetics, soils and nutrition, climate variability, pests and diseases and understanding the economics of crop production.
Speakers concentrated on peanuts and pulses, including navy beans, mung beans and chickpeas and new varieties that are “in the pipeline”.