BUILDING A LEGACY
1100ha project to capture emerging opportunities
INNOVATORS: Brisbane Valley Protein founders Duncan Brown and Selena Gomersall. Their story,
IT’S a big vision, but Duncan Brown and his sister Selena Gomersall hope that the Brisbane Valley Protein Precinct will capture growing opportunities for meat and livestock production in the region.
An expansive “protein production and education master plan” on their 1100hectare site in Coominya, Queensland, was approved for development by the Somerset Regional Council in November 2018.
The property is already home to an RSPCA accredited poultry farm – with another one under construction – a beef backgrounding operation, and a fully integrated quail production facility. The approval will help catalyse plans to develop a restaurant/bistro, community garden, eco cabins and either an export poultry or beef processing facility over the next 10 years.
Duncan Brown is a fourth generation farmer in the Brisbane Valley region and hopes to be part of the region’s future in protein production.
“In the early 1900s, my great-grandfather, Frederick, saw the potential in this area as a hub for agricultural innovation and moved his family here to establish the Good Luck Friesian stud,” Mr Brown said.
“Later, my grandfather, Arthur, earned the reputation as a great dairy farmer and community man.
“My father, Michael, was a pioneer in integrated beef production and we are looking to build on that legacy.”
Mr Brown then established a poultry farm as well as backgrounding cattle for local feedlots.
“I think our family has always tried to seize the next protein opportunity,” he said.
“In farming you have to be flexible and with global markets evolving continuously you need an operation and property that can quickly adapt.”
As part of the Brisbane Valley Protein Precinct, the family has recently ventured into quail production.
“We have a fully integrated quail production facility. ‘Hatch and dispatch’ is the best way to describe it,” Mr Brown said.
“We have a hatchery, a quail farm and a dedicated quail processing facility.
“At the moment it’s small beginnings, around 1200 birds a week. But we’re hoping to grow that significantly and rapidly.
“We’re the only export accredited game bird abattoir in Queensland.
“The quail we produce is much larger than the normal quail. So if you like quail but find it a bit fiddley, then we have a quail for you.”
Mr Brown said Brisbane Valley Protein sourced the genetics for the larger-sized quail from Charlie Scott, who had been selecting birds for size for the past 20 years.
“There’s absolutely no hormones used,” he said.
Brisbane Valley Protein is now supplying the quail in Queensland and Melbourne and has had two export shipments over to Hong Kong.
It supplies to well-known restaurants in Brisbane including Cha Cha Cha, Black Bird Bar and Grill, Il Centro, Gerard’s Bistro and Moda, as well as popular Turkish restaurant Sofra’s in Toowoomba.
Mr Brown and Mrs Gomersall started formulating the idea for the Brisbane Valley Protein Precinct four years ago.
“We started the conversation with council and State Government and the community. There were a lot of conversations,” Mr Brown said.
“We looked at what would be the most sustainably viable way to go about this, and we went with that.
“The first two years was working out what we could and couldn’t do.
“I think it (the idea) just came from this area being so good at producing food on a large scale, and the appetite for Australian proteins is only going to grow in Asia, and approvals are going to be harder to get.
“We had a very lengthy 60day public notification period and we didn’t have a single negative response.
“We had significant community consultation. A lot of the community’s ideas are reflected in the final master plan.”
Mr Brown said the plan for 2019 was to continue to grow the poultry and quail operations, and source investors for the next stages of the project.
“This year will be growing the businesses and starting to attract investors,” he said.
“The joy of this approval is we can go to investors and say we have land that is strategically positioned with the relevant in principle approvals in place. The preliminary approval of the masterplan through section 242 of the Planning Act means subsequent approvals – whether they be for meat processing or food-based tourism – will be code not impact assessable. We have effectively enshrined land that can bring to life a whole range of protein production aspirations.
“I think it’s going to be a gradual thing, it’s a beautiful property.
“We want a big community garden where people can see the produce grown and eat the produce in a bistro/restaurant where food is cooked in the kitchen by local chefs and students.
“We have to crawl before we can walk. Initially we are going to do some events, which will be our R&D for what the ultimate complex will look like.”
Mr Brown hopes the Brisbane Valley Protein Precinct will help to educate the future of the food industry.
“We want to get some traineeships for local students. We want to give young people in this area some hope that they can have a future in food production,” he said.
“We’ve started meeting with schools. We want training opportunities that expose young people to the whole process.
“To show them how birds are integrated – grown, ethically processed, the marketing and selling.”
BUILDING BUSINESS: Founders of Brisbane Valley Protein, Duncan Brown and Selena Gomersall.
Quail from Brisbane Valley Protein.
Brisbane Valley Protein Precinct.