Ex­cit­ing times on the way

New role means plenty of ex­cit­ing chal­lenges

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News - BRUCE McCONNEL


I’ve now com­menced the new role as gen­eral man­ager of Food Lead­ers Aus­tralia (FLA) and have hit the ground run­ning.

I cer­tainly felt the ex­cite­ment around the role, the broader TSBE or­gan­i­sa­tion and the re­gion when I walked into the of­fice on Au­gust 28.

This feel­ing is sup­ported by the con­ver­sa­tions I’ve had to date with the mem­bers who are clear ad­vo­cates of what we do and credit must be given to TSBE Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man Shane Charles, my pre­de­ces­sor Dr Ben Lyons, and the en­tire TSBE team for the work they have done in fos­ter­ing these part­ner­ships.

Now two weeks into the role, I wanted to share my ini­tial thoughts and what I see hap­pen­ing with the re­gion.

Toowoomba and the sur­round­ing re­gions are in a unique and en­vied po­si­tion where public and pri­vate en­ter­prises work to­gether on projects for the ben­e­fit of our peo­ple, busi­nesses and com­mu­ni­ties. The Well­camp air­port, sec­ond range cross­ing and up­com­ing In­land Rail are ex­am­ples of the work be­ing done to link Toowoomba and sur­round­ing re­gions to the world.

Like never be­fore, our re­gional cen­tre has the op­por­tu­nity to grow it­self into a ma­jor in­land port and take, not only our own, but Aus­tralia’s agri­cul­tural prod­ucts to the world.

This is all oc­cur­ring at a time when farmer’s op­ti­mism, and will­ing­ness to look at new op­por­tu­ni­ties is at all-time highs.

Re­cent gains in grain prices, con­tin­u­ing high cat­tle prices and a strong sea­son for our lo­cal horticulture pro­duc­ers are see­ing many pro­duc­ers keen to con­tinue ex­pand their op­er­a­tions and look to new mar­kets.

We’re now see­ing large in­vest­ment in in­no­va­tion, ac­cel­er­ated on the back of FLAs an­nual 400m AgTech In­vest­ment Fo­rum ear­lier this year and sup­ported heav­ily by the work USQ and other re­search and in­dus­try bod­ies within the re­gion.

Pro­duc­ers are also look­ing at new av­enues of mar­ket­ing as well as net­work­ing with like­minded busi­nesses to cap­ture new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

This growth is then lead­ing to other supply chain par­tic­i­pants look­ing to in­vest heav­ily within our re­gion, be it beef and fresh milk pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties right through to in­ter­na­tional air­lines look­ing to our re­gion to start reg­u­lar ser­vices.

FLA is per­fectly placed to as­sist these par­tic­i­pants in gain­ing new in­tro­duc­tions, learn­ing what is oc­cur­ring in the re­gion and pro­vid­ing a strong voice for our food and fi­bre in­dus­tries.

These are all as­pects of the role I’m keen to sink my teeth into.

Be­fore step­ping in as FLA GM, I spent the last 17 years with both the Na­tional Aus­tralia Bank and Com­mon­wealth bank in var­i­ous agribusi­ness fi­nance roles, most re­cently as the Re­gional Man­ager for South West Queens­land for the Comm­bank’s Re­gional and Agribusi­ness team.

This back­ground has seen me work with many ag-re­lated busi­nesses to grow their wealth, pro­tect the risks and cap­i­talise on new op­por­tu­ni­ties as they arise all tasks I wish to con­tinue in the new role.

Be­hind the scenes I’ve worked closely with agri­cul­tural shows to drive the in­volve­ment of the next gen­er­a­tion of ag in­dus­try par­tic­i­pants and I will al­ways be look­ing for ways to grow the next gen­er­a­tion’s in­volve­ment.

Fi­nally, if you’re keen to come and meet me, we’ve got Meat Ups each month in Toowoomba at Well­camp air­port, the Depart­ment of Agriculture and Fish­eries (DAF) and Clearspan. I look for­ward to see­ing you there.


BROAD HORIZONS: Pro­duc­ers like Kir­illee Dono­hoe from Wan­doan-based Dono­hoe Cat­tle Company have ben­e­fited from all the work done by FLA and TSBE to hook them up with ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties.

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