Ag leaders meet to discuss hot topics
HORTICULTURAL representatives from across Queensland are meeting in Brisbane this Wednesday for the annual face-to-face meeting of the Queensland Horticulture Council.
Growcom initiated the QHC in early 2015 to better co-ordinate policy responses on key issues and investigate opportunities to work more closely together.
The group, which meets monthly by teleconference, comprises representatives from the Lockyer Valley Growers, Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers, Bowen Gumlu Growers Association, Gayndah Fruitgrowers and the Mareeba District Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.
While the group is chaired by Growcom, it is very much a collaborative policy development group and it has significantly increased the capacity of the industry to put forward a collective view to government and respond to issues. The group also provides a useful mechanism for government to engage with the Queensland horticulture industry as each organisation has excellent connections with growers on the ground.
While the focus of the group changes from meeting to meeting, workforce issues tend to dominate the conversation. Much of 2016 was focused on the backpacker tax issue and much of 2017 on discussing the imbalanced portrayal of the industry. The Horticulture Code of Conduct has also been consistently topical, with a wide range of views being put forward within the group.
The recent Horticulture Code of Conduct roadshow, attended by 300 growers, was an initiative of the QHC and demonstrated the value of working together to inform growers about important new legislation.
For the first time, the annual QHC meeting will be attended by representatives from the National Farmers’ Federation, the Produce Marketing Association and Freshcare to discuss a sustainable labour solution for our sector as well as issues around certification and food safety.
Representatives from the Queensland Farmers’ Federation and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries will also attend to discuss state issues.
Horticulture is notorious for being disjointed and disorganised, so we are pleased that this group continues to work together for the benefit of all of our members and industry as a whole.