MAYOR TAKES PROAC­TIVE AP­PROACH Fo­cus on ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - Emily Smith emily.smith@cnbtimes.com.au

DIG­GING the way to China is North Bur­nett Re­gional Coun­cil Mayor Don Waugh’s long-term vi­sion for lo­cal in­dus­tries.

He de­clined a per­sonal in­vi­ta­tion to join a group of lo­cal citrus grow­ers on a trip to meet with Chi­nese com­pany Cofco at the end of the month, but Cr Waugh said he first wanted to explore av­enues for boost­ing other lo­cal in­dus­tries onto the global ex­port plat­form.

“These are all long-term plans, dreams re­ally, but I want to see how a re­la­tion­ship with China could help our dairy, beef, pork and small crop in­dus­tries,” he said.

“Our big­gest prob­lem with growth (in the North Bur­nett) is a small pop­u­la­tion and lim­ited in­dus­tries, but there are op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­pand out there.”

CrWaugh said the first step in open­ing up an ex­port trade would be talk­ing to lo­cal pro­duc­ers to see if this was a busi­ness di­rec­tion they wanted to pur­sue, and what they would need to do so.

“We are go­ing to be proac­tive be­cause that’s what open­ing up ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties will take. Dairy farm­ers, for ex­am­ple, are prob­a­bly not in a po­si­tion to change any­thing im­me­di­ately but we need to make sure they start get­ting bet­ter prices for their milk,” he said.

“There are some cru­cial ques­tions we will start ask­ing now to lo­cal farm­ers and in­dus­try bod­ies, be­cause the op­por­tu­ni­ties aren’t only in China, they are all over the world.”

He said his coun­cil might be able to help in ar­eas like host­ing more trade del­e­ga­tions, writ­ing fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tions or work­ing on in­fra­struc­ture plans.

With meet­ings planned with milk pro­cess­ing com­pa­nies and Queens­land Trade and In­dus­try, now is the time for lo­cal pro­duc­ers to make sure their voices are heard when it comes to fu­ture plans.

By the time State Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture John McVeigh vis­its our re­gion on Septem­ber 3, Cr Waugh said he wanted to have spo­ken to pro­duc­ers to un­der­stand their take on the fu­ture of the ex­port in­dus­try.

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