More than 600 jobs will be created in regional Queensland after the Palaszczuk Government allocated more $3.14 million in Rural Economic Development grants to 15 rural businesses.
Businesses from the Lockyer Valley, Southern Downs, Toowoomba, Goondiwindi, Bundaberg, Cassowary Coast, Cairns, Mareeba and the Tablelands have received up to $250,000 in co-contribution grants to purchase innovative equipment and build new infrastructure to create jobs and expand agricultural supply chains.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the latest round of RED Grant funding would provide a timely economic boost and help to build industry, support rural communities and grow employment opportunities across the agricultural sector.
“Creating jobs is at the heart of Queensland’s $8 billion plan for economic recovery, and the job supported by these grants will be a real shot in the arm to these communities,” Mr Furner said.
“A wide range of fruit and vegetable processing and packaging facilities, a regional meatworks, nurseries and a bio manufacturing facility were among the successful businesses funded in this round.
“Some businesses will expand infrastructure to increase productivity, sustainability and energy efficiency, or improve post-harvest handling and new processing capability or develop new and more water efficient systems of farming in their industries.
“All the projects will create new jobs for regional Queensland. In total 251 direct full-time jobs will be created, another 90 during construction and 346 indirect full-time positions will need to be filled to make these projects come to life.”
37 jobs – Story Fresh at Cambooya
Story Fresh Managing Director Geoffrey Story said the funding will go towards completing an $11 million processing facility with the addition of a dedicated sorting room with a $1 million multi-spectrum electronic sorter that removes any foreign material and discoloured leaves from Baby Leaf products, creating 37 direct and indirect jobs.
“The dedicated sorting room will house a $1 million multi-spectrum electronic sorter which removes foreign material and discoloured leaves from Baby Leaf products and so will guarantee food safety and premium quality for the burgeoning domestic and export markets for Baby Leaf,” Mr Story said.
“The new Baby Leaf sorter will operate at up to 1,500 kilograms per hour.”
“The completion of this project will greatly increase capacity in our Baby Leaf processing line and enable us to meet the growing demands of new customers.”
31 jobs – Barden Queensland at Gatton
Barden Queensland Managing Director Andrew Drummond said their RED grant would help to establish a new a 2,396 square metre hi-tech greenhouse to meet gaps in the herb consumer market, creating 31 direct and indirect jobs.
“The greenhouse will include the latest horticulture technology including innovative irrigation and fertigation systems to grow herbs such as basil, thyme, sage, tarragon, mint, and dill,” Mr Drummond said.
“The greenhouse is expected to produce between 25,000 to 35,0000 packs of herbs per week once up and running,” he said.
“Over the past few years, we have seen significant growth in certain herbs, both in Queensland and nationally. Along with this growth, we have seen our customers demanding greater quantities, but more importantly a better quality and safer grown herb.
“The expected outcome of this project is that we can grow, process, and pack the herbs locally here in Gatton before shipping the herbs direct to our customers nationally.
“Growing herbs in a greenhouse will allow us to control environmental conditions that would otherwise be out of our hands if they were grown in a field. Growing them locally will also reduce our carbon footprint over winter by reducing our mileage regarding freight.”
Ashton’s Butchery Director Rob Ashton said the RED grant would help to install additional refrigeration and configure processing lines to help double throughput at Millmerran Abattoir.
“Limited refrigerated cold-room storage capacity at the Millmerran Abattoir severely limits the operational efficiency of the existing meat-works, which is currently operating well below the full licensed meat processing limits set by Safe Food Queensland,” Mr Ashton said.
“The project funding will be used to install a 12 by 6 metre cold room on an insulated concrete slab that is housed under 18 by 7 meter open shed structure.
“The existing processing lines will then be reconfigured to operate more efficiently and will be aligned with a new overhead rail system that directly feeds carcases from the processing lines and into the new cold room.
“The new layout will significantly improve operator efficiency and safety for meat workers,” he said.
44 jobs – Qualipac at Gatton
Qualipac Sales and Business Development Manager Kees Versteeg said the funding would be used to install a cooling facility for export products.
“Qualipac grows, packs and supplies fresh vegetables to the domestic and overseas markets with our overseas markets seeking increased year-on-year supply of high-quality fresh vegetables,” Mr Versteeg said.
“The funding we received will be used to establish an export compliant cooling facility with refrigeration, cooling, and icing technology that will enable an increase in production capacity, throughput, handling and shipping as well as significantly increase post-harvest quality of fresh produce.
“At present, limited temperature-controlled cooling facilities means that supply to key markets, especially overseas, is limited to certain months of the year.
“Many overseas customers seek continuity of supply and this facility will allow for this and production can increase as a result.
“It is estimated that an additional 2500 tonnes of fresh produce will be processed annually through the facility at full capacity.”
The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) administers the RED Grant scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.