Key support provided by the Palaszczuk Government is helping to drive export growth and job creation in Queensland’s agriculture sector.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Queensland was an agricultural powerhouse, producing 97 percent of the nation’s bananas, 94 percent of the nation’s sugarcane, half of the meat cattle herd and a third of the country’s vegetables.
Releasing the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ annual report, Mr Furner said the Government has been instrumental in helping Queensland farmers and fishers to feed and clothe Australia.
Mr Furner said DAF had also helped to expand Queensland’s $9.9 billion agricultural export industry in the last 12 months.
“DAF’s Growing Queensland’s Food Exports scheme helped 15 local companies to export agrifood products to Asia and the Middle East,” he said.
“Another program is focused on developing new market access protocols to allow fresh Queensland produce to be sold through a larger number of export markets.
“This will provide growers and exporters both treatment choice and marketing choice, enabling higher prices for products and greater returns to growers.
“Increasing our agricultural exports means not only getting our products onto dinner plates around the world but more local jobs for Queenslanders.
“We also spent $129 million on research, development and extension over the past 12 months to build Queensland’s competitive advantage.”
“Through the Rural Economic Development Grants (RED) program, we have provided 15 businesses with the financial support to grow and expand in regional areas, growing up to 600 jobs.”
Mr Furner said reforming the fisheries sector had been a major focus for the department over the last 12 months.
“Thousands of jobs depend on having sustainable fish stocks and 85 percent of key Queensland fish stocks show no current sustainability concerns,” Mr Furner said.
“The changes we’ve introduced – including tough penalties for black marketing of seafood and catch limits for at-risk species – are designed to ensure we have a sustainable fishery for our children and grandchildren.
“We have identified six new land-based aquaculture development areas in Townsville, Whitsunday, Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone local government areas to grow jobs and further develop an ecologically sustainable, diverse and innovative aquaculture industry in Queensland.
“Recreational fishers are reporting better experiences in the net-free fishing zones off Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton with the number of fish being caught increasing from reports four years ago.
“We’re continuing to improve the fishing experience all across Queensland, with more than three million juvenile fish being released into 150 waterways across Queensland and the introduction of fish-attracting structures in dams in Mackay and Toowoomba.”
The annual report shows DAF remains on the front foot to protect the state against biosecurity threats such as white spot disease in prawns.
Two rounds of testing last financial year have shown no signs of the disease and three prawn farms in the Logan River affected by the outbreak three years ago have now returned to full production.
Mr Furner said the department had also been there to provide a helping hand to those doing it tough on the land.
“Two-thirds of the state has been drought declared and my department has provided millions of dollars in support under the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme,” he said.
“The independent panel reviewing Queensland Government’s drought program found strong industry support to continue and strengthen this program.
“But we’re also helping our farmers deal with droughts of the future through the Queensland Drought and Climate Adaptation Program, by building new climate-forecasting products and decision-support tools to manage and prepare for weather events.
“There’s much more that my department has done to support Queensland’s wonderful farmers and fishers and I encourage everyone to have a look at the annual report.”
View the Annual Report here https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/strategic-direction/annual-report