Ideas for fu­ture of in­dus­try

High-level agri­cul­ture fo­rum

Chinchilla News - - NEWS - Molly Han­cock Molly.Han­cock@ west­ern­starnews.com

THE fu­ture of agri­cul­ture was at the fore­front of ev­ery­one’s minds last Thurs­day as pro­duc­ers, gra­ziers and spe­cial guests met in Roma for the Fu­ture of Ag fo­rum.

A wide range of guest speak­ers pro­vided some fresh think­ing on driv­ing in­vest­ment in Aus­tralian agri­cul­ture, in­clud­ing an in-depth look into the sheep and beef mar­ket and how Queens­land could fo­cus on re­build­ing and driv­ing th­ese com­modi­ties in the fu­ture.

Su­per Butcher manag­ing di­rec­tor Su­san McDon­ald is an ad­vo­cate for build­ing a bridge between con­sumers and pro­duc­ers and how the world of meat has plenty more to of­fer.

“I grew up in Clon­curry and did School of the Air be­fore go­ing away to board­ing school and univer­sity,” Ms McDon­ald said.

“I worked as an ac­coun­tant for two years but, dur­ing that time, my brother died so I de­cided to come back to the fam­ily busi­ness and started run­ning the Su­per Butcher busi­ness.

“We are liv­ing in a world where peo­ple be­come more and more ur­banised and there is less un­der­stand­ing of how food is grown.”

Ms McDon­ald said her main driv­ing force for the fo­rum was to dis­cuss how the meat in­dus­try could be­come the in­dus­try of pos­si­bil­i­ties again.

“As an in­dus­try we are do­ing all of this great work where were are manag­ing an­i­mal wel­fares, we are do­ing man­age­ment and now the next fron­tier is get­ting into gov­ern­ment and be­ing the strong voice for re­al­ity,” she said.

Not only does Ms McDon­ald want to drive her fo­cus on build­ing the gap between pad­dock to plate but she wants to add more to the story be­hind each cut of meat with her busi­ness.

“We are see­ing a great resur­gence of in­ter­est from peo­ple who want to buy meat that is fit for pur­pose and is in­ter­est­ing,” she said.

Vic­to­rian sheep and cat­tle pro­ducer Ja­son Trompf high­lighted how the rise of the sheep in­dus­try was slowly mak­ing its way back into Queens­land.

“The sheep in­dus­try used to be so strong and the back­bone to com­mu­ni­ties and I reckon there is still hope,” Mr Trompf said.

“In the big pic­ture one thing that is ex­tremely ex­cit­ing is that the sheep in­dus­try has grown from what was a $3 bil­lion in­dus­try to now an $8 bil­lion in­dus­try and we are do­ing that with about 70 mil­lion less sheep.

“We have more than dou­bled the gross value of pro­duc­tion from the sheep in­dus­try with ma­jor flock re­duc­tion.”

Mr Trompf said, in Queens­land’s con­text, the use of ex­clu­sion fenc­ing was start­ing to reap ben­e­fits for farm­ers, with data show­ing an in­crease of re­pro­duc­tion rates from low 60s per an­num to high 70s.

“The na­tional av­er­age mark­ing rate is about 90, so this is the low­est state, but there are lots of fac­tors that con­trib­ute to that and we are here to­day to talk to farm­ers about what they can do in that area,” he said.

“As an in­dus­try we just want to sup­port farm­ers up here to do the very best they can with the re­sources they have.

“What sets the best sheep farmer apart from the rest is re­source al­lo­ca­tion.”

Na­tional Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Fiona Sim­son said agri­cul­ture in Aus­tralia was go­ing to go from strength to strength, espe­cially in re­gards to ex­por­ta­tion.

“Aus­tralia ex­ports

70 per cent of what we pro­duce and our prod­ucts are re­ally sought-af­ter around the world,” Ms Sim­son said.

“For me, it is how do we grow a strong sus­tain­able agri­cul­tural sec­tor and catch farm value at the gate so we can achieve $100 bil­lion value by 2030.”

PHOTO: MOLLY HAN­COCK

MEET­ING OF MINDS: AgForce re­gional man­ager Sharon Pur­cell, AgForce pres­i­dent Grant Maud­s­ley, Aus­tralian Coun­try Choice’s Ja­son Trompf and Su­per Butcher manag­ing di­rec­tor Su­san McDon­ald at the Fu­ture of Ag fo­rum.

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