The horticulture industry in Queensland is not only made up of a diverse array of commodities but has a number of regional grower groups who each strongly represent their own agendas to further the industry’s progress.
Whilst regional representation is highly effective for pushing specific localised issues, a strong, united position across the state reduces the ability of government to play wedge politics, along with the ability to amplify the voice of the industry to the government on important state-wide impacts.
The Queensland Horticulture Council (QHC), which gathers regularly, provides this forum to advance issues and opportunities on behalf of industry. It does this by sharing information, framing unified policy positions, and developing a coordinated approach to advocacy effort. These QHC advocacy and policy positions are then fed into Queensland Fruit & Vegetable Growers (QFVG) as the state representative body for horticulture.
Recently the QHC met to begin discussing regional advocacy priorities for upcoming elections and potential solutions that have emerged across the state. It was interesting to note that similar issues were raised across regions although individual rankings of priorities differ.
For FNQ Growers road infrastructure and flood proofing the Bruce Highway, biosecurity protection, reducing the compliance burden, cost of production and IR laws are all top of the list. This is a similar list of priorities for the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association with the addition of energy and other input costs, and labour, particularly workers’ accommodation.
Bundaberg Fruit & Vegetable Growers are focused on water security in the region – Paradise Dam, water meters and the push against telemetry in addition to connectivity and local government planning issues such as rates, and support for agritourism.
The Granite Belt Growers Association has also prioritised water security with Emu Swamp Dam, and evaporation covers amongst other initiatives. Employers’ rights and welfare along with margin transparency from contracted retailers are also of major concern as is the right to farm and residential incursions into farming operations.
Gayndah Fruitgrowers and the Lockyer Valley Growers Association are currently working through their priorities.
QFVG will be information gathering across all growing regions to feed into the bigger picture. This year it is imperative horticulture comes together to have a strong, brave, loud, and cohesive voice in Queensland and indeed Australia.