Ag lead­ers meet to dis­cuss hot top­ics

Central and North Rural Weekly - - NEWS - PAT HANNAN Grow­com CEO

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.

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