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Boonah Agribusiness Strategy - About the Scenic Rim

By Leslie Baker,2014-05-13 12:43
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Boonah Agribusiness Strategy - About the Scenic Rim

    AGRIBUSINESS: Boonah’s

    PRIMARY Industry

    The Boonah and District Agribusiness Strategy

    DRAFT v2 12 December 2008

Purpose of the Strategy

    AGRIBUSINESS: Boonah’s PRIMARY Industry is a strategy designed to enhance existing strengths in agribusiness to assist the Boonah District to become a highly competitive region on a national scale

    by creating a business environment conducive to high growth and productivity in the industry.

The Boonah and District Agribusiness Strategy has been developed over a period of approximately

    12 months and comes as a result of significant research emphasis placed on the Boonah District

    through the Boonah Futures Partnership Agreement, a collaboration between Scenic Rim Regional

    Council and the Queensland Government. Out of this Partnership Agreement, sixteen research

    projects have developed flowing from recommendations made in the Boonah Shire Futures Plan

    developed in 2007.

It is the intent of this Agribusiness Strategy to be concise focusing on the specific opportunities and

    actions required to move to the next level in capitalising on these opportunities. It is designed to be

    a document which changes over time. Therefore, the contents of this Strategy are preliminary in

    nature. It is likely that these actions will lead to the identification of other opportunities which may

    need to be included over time. Similarly, once the actions are complete, they may be removed.

The scope of this document is 12 months, focusing on short-term actions required to achieve long-

    term outcomes.

At the time of writing, the carriage of the document sits with the Boonah and District Enterprise

    Board, through Scenic Rim Regional Council.

Why Focus on Agribusiness?

    The Boonah Shire Futures Plan states that “Despite the current and foreseeable challenges to the agricultural sector, agriculture will always remain a large part of the Boonah Shire economy, not

    least because of its advantages of good soil, established grower expertise and strategic location

    close to major markets” (Boonah Shire Futures Plan 2007: 38).

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing was the largest

    employer in both 2001 and 2006 Censuses, comprising 28.7% and 23.7% of the employment in the

    Boonah District (categorised by the previous Boonah Shire Council boundaries) respectively. This

    demonstrates a 5% drop in employment over the five year period between Censuses, but is still the

    largest employer by sector by a large margin. When viewed in comparison with changes in the other

    major employment sector, Retail Trade, the employment drops can be seen to be largely reflective

    Page 1 of 8

of economic conditions over that time (namely, the effect of the drought). However,

    Accommodation, Cafes and Restaurants showed a 2.4% increase in employment over the same time.

This document brings together the district’s major employer and looks at the anecdotal trends in

    accommodation and other tourism operations (largely based on other agribusiness enterprises) and

    creates a way forward for defining the critical opportunities to promote and develop the

    agribusiness sector in Boonah and District, building on existing expertise, experience, innovation and

    entrepreneurship which has been demonstrated in the area.

The District has proven its credentials with operations such as the Kalfresh/Kallium Conglomerate,

    Bunny Bites, Plasvac, Kalbar Lucerne, Silverdale Saleyard and other such operations which are high

    value-adding enterprises with significant regional export and employment capacities. It is

    operations such as this that should be supported through this Agribusiness Strategy, as well as the

    attraction of similarly high value enterprises to the District.

Definition of Agribusiness

Research in the fields of agriculture and agribusiness is extensive. For the sake of simplicity,

    Agribusiness will be defined, in this document, as traditional primary industries (food and fibre

    production) as well as associated services that emerge to support them the service economy that

    surrounds agriculture.

Objectives of the Strategy

The aims of this strategy are:

    ? To capitalise on existing strengths in the agriculture sector

    ? To provide an environment that is fully conducive to the economic development of the

    sector

    ? To build employment opportunities in the sector

    ? To create a platform to promote the Boonah district as a preferred site of investment in the

    sector

    ? To create a point of coordination for industry development initiatives.

    Consultation

Consultation was undertaken with industry, community and government stakeholders through three

    forums held at the Boonah and District Cultural Centre between April and June 2008. Attendance at

    the forums was by invitation only and the discussion was focused around opportunities and/or

    issues identified through an agribusiness sub-group of the Boonah and District Enterprise Board. The

    members of the sub-group were identified as key leaders in vegetable production, dairying, beef

    production and food value-adding. Members of the sub-group were also in attendance at the forums.

The actions presented in this document reflect decisions made at these forums.

    Page 2 of 8

Business and Industry Gaps and Opportunities

    Conics, a Gold Coast-based consultancy company, was commissioned to undertake a Business and Industry Gap Analysis as part of the Boonah Futures Partnership Agreement. The following are excerpts from that document, presenting information relevant to agribusiness.

STRENGTHS

    Boonah has a strong agriculture industry that benefits from an abundance of good quality agricultural land that is suitable for a range of different uses. The main agricultural produce from the region includes beef cattle, dairy products, vegetables and cereal crops. The region also benefits from favourable temperate conditions and convenient access to major ports and transport facilities.

WEAKNESSES

    A weakness of the agriculture industry is that it is easily affected by drought, disease and water restrictions. The availability of rural skilled labour can also act as a limitation to industry development. Current business practises and infrastructure do not support the vertical integration required by niche operators.

    Gatton is the designated Principal Rural Centre under the South East Queensland Planning Scheme and therefore contains a concentration of services, commercial, retail, government and community activities that will serve a subregional catchment; this will limit Boonah from fulfilling a similar role.

    The availability of water for agricultural use within Boonah Shire is restricted under the Water Resource (Logan Basin) Plan 2007. This places limitations on any additional level of intensive cropping production within Boonah Shire.

OPPORTUNITIES

    There is an abundance of good quality agricultural land that is suitable for a range of uses. Agriculture is a significant contributor to both the local and state economy and as such, receives strong support at both levels. This support is expected to be continued in the future, particularly through the Rural Industry Precinct Plan within the Boonah District.

    Urban communities are demonstrating a growing demand for ‘fresh food’, this is seen as response to the sameness of supermarkets. Seasonal fresh produce (with real taste), organic produce, paddock to plate meat and related value added products can all take advantage of Boonah’s strategic location

    to the rapidly growing SEQ consumer market.

    Much of these opportunities are consistent with those indicated in the Boonah Shire Futures Plan. The future Rural Industry Precinct Plan could potentially support a range of agriculture activities (possibly in combination with tourism activities) and industry development opportunities throughout the Boonah District.

THREATS

    Crops and livestock are easily affected by external factors that are beyond the control of industry operators. This includes climatic factors and has resulted in a general trend away from agriculture. Competition from larger operations in and around Gatton as the Principal Rural Centre within the region may inhibit any potential growth of the industry within the Boonah District.

    Additional threats to agriculture include increasing land values, offshore competition through imported products and the cessation of the Dairy Support Package.

    Page 3 of 8

EXISTING ECONOMIC DRIVERS

Availability of land The Boonah District region has the advantage in that it has an abundance of

    land supply that could be made appropriate for a range of uses. The planned industrial precinct at

    Bromelton is an example of what can be established with the appropriate planning support of

    Council and the State Government.

    Natural tourism assets There are a total of 16 National Parks located throughout the Boonah District, some of which are also World Heritage Listed. These National Parks as well as other natural

    assets such as Lake Moogerah and Lake Maroon support and promote a range of tourist activities

    throughout the region.

Proximity to significant markets throughout South East Queensland Business and industry

    operators within the Boonah District have the advantage in that they are conveniently located to a

    number of significant markets throughout South East Queensland including Brisbane, the Sunshine

    Coast, the Gold Coast, Ipswich and Logan. These areas are significant in terms of population and

    support a range of business and industry activity within the Boonah District such as agricultural

    production, tourism, manufacturing, etc.

Existing industry knowledge and skills sets The historic significance of agricultural production

    throughout the Boonah District has lead to a concentration of skills and experience related to the

    business production, management and administration of agriculture related industries.

    State incentives and initiatives The Boonah District region has the potential to benefit from existing State Government lead incentives and initiatives such as the Department of Primary

    Industries’ (DPI) Gourmet food project. This project is being run from 2007 to 2010 to support and develop a profile for ‘Queensland primary producers (small to medium sized enterprises) who are

    developing high-value products including organics, aquaculture seafood, specialty Australian

    products, game meats for niche markets.’ The plan also aims to help build relationships between

    producers and retailers and help promote the sector in the market.

The Business and Industry Gap Analysis recommends a focus on niche agriculture products and

    tourism as significant opportunities in the district in the future.

    Page 4 of 8

Strategic Priorities

The strategic priorities and actions identified in this document have flowed directly from research,

    forum discussions and recommendations from these consultation processes.

It has been agreed that the focus of this Strategy should be on supporting existing high value-

    adding enterprises with significant regional export and employment capacities as well as the

    attraction of similarly high output businesses in the future.

It was considered that the following broad areas should be the strategic focus.

1. INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

    1.1 Water

    1.2 Telecommunications

    1.3 Industrial Land

2. INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT AND PROMOTION

    2.1 Collaborative Industry Promotion and Development

    2.2 Supportive Regulatory Provisions

3 PERI-URBAN AGRICULTURE

    3.1 Rural Residential Land

    3.2 Advocacy/Education

    3.3 Agri-Tourism

ACTIONS

1. INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

3.4 Water

    Water is critical to the development of a District-wide Agribusiness Strategy. The access to reliable

    water supplies (in terms of availability and price) is critical. This will come about through Council and

    Industry leaders working together to advocate for reliability of supply with the State Government and

    other regulators.

ACTIONS

    a) Investigate the establishment of a Boonah and District Water Users’ Forum as a mechanism

    for negotiating with local and state government as well as for advocating for agricultural

    water use in the District.

    b) Investigate the feasibility of expanding this group to encompass the Scenic Rim Regional

    Council boundaries.

3.5 Telecommunications stIn order to operate a business effectively in the 21 Century, access to high quality, high speed

    broadband internet is fundamental. With a similar approach to that of securing reliability of water

    supply, the following actions are recommended to ensure that the community is proactive in

    achieving access to industry standard (or better) internet access.

    Page 5 of 8

ACTIONS

    a) The delivery of regular workshops/seminars/forums on an as needs basis to be organised by

    BDEB and Telstra Countrywide. The focus of these sessions would be to bring

    telecommunications experts to the community to explain opportunities for increasing

    efficiency in business through technology.

    b) Maintain an ongoing dialogue with Telstra Countrywide as agreed at the infrastructure

    forum.

    c) Establish a telecommunications users group through BDEB to ensure an ongoing

    communication between Boonah industry and Telstra to ensure collaborative and strategic

    development of infrastructure in the future.

3.6 Industrial Land

    Ready access to industrial land that is appropriately zoned for high end food/beverage processing

    and value-adding is essential to business attraction and expansion. The attraction of these types of

    enterprises and the expansion of existing enterprises, requires a planned, consultative approach to

    respond to industry demand over time.

ACTIONS

    a) Investigate the identification of an Agribusiness Zone in the Scenic Rim Regional Council’s

    Planning Scheme to create a ‘precinct’ which has the services and facilities required to

    attract and/or expand high end food/beverage processing or value-adding enterprises.

2. INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT AND PROMOTION

2.1 Collaborative Industry Promotion and Development

    The ability of an industry to collaborate is critical to the development of any sector. Whilst businesses

    may operate in competition, there will always be areas of activity that can be approached

    collaboratively. There are good examples of how this has happened in various industries around joint

    marketing/regional branding, skilling/training, access to transport, etc. In an area where

    agribusiness is the bottom line of the economy, it is vital that the community understands this and

    adapts to the activities of primary producers and businesses operating within the agribusiness value

    chain.

ACTIONS

    a) Establish industry network, collective or cooperative which seeks to develop a single brand

    to promote agribusiness in the Boonah District.

    b) Through the network, collective or cooperative, continue to build relationships with key

    government and non-government stakeholders to ensure that the industry is at the cutting

    edge of research in peri-urban management and practices.

    c) Investigate the possibility of sharing marketing and other commercial functions and facilities,

    as appropriate, to reduce costs and create efficiency within the sector.

    d) Create a specific industry profile which can be used to promote the Agribusiness Industry of

    the Boonah District to prospective new businesses.

    e) Focus new business attraction on enterprises with a high employment capability.

2.2 Supportive Regulatory Provisions

    In order for the industry to develop effectively, business owners and operators need to be confident

    that there are supportive regulatory provisions supporting Agribusiness Industry development in the

    Boonah District.

    Page 6 of 8

ACTIONS

    a) Industry, Council and State Government to work collaboratively on the development of a

    Rural Industry Precinct Plan which supports, through planning provisions, the opportunities

    identified in this Strategy.

3. PERI-URBAN AGRICULTURE

3.1 Rural Residential Land

    The supply of rural residential land is very limited. It has been demonstrated through consultations

    that there is a high demand and that this is a major source of potential population and/or revenue

    growth for the Boonah District.

ACTIONS

    a) Investigate, in partnership with the Department of Infrastructure and Planning, potential

    opportunities to create a sustainable, balanced and appropriate approach to the

    development of future rural residential land stock.

3.2 Advocacy/Education

    As the Boonah District grows, further pressure may come to bear between residential and

    agricultural interests. It is fundamental to this Strategy that new residents to the community

    understand that they live in a district where agribusiness is the base-line of the economy.

ACTIONS

    a) Use the industry network, collective or cooperative to jointly advocate for the local industry

    as well as provide education programs and activities within schools and the community to

    promote the sector.

    b) Through a partnership between the industry network, collective or cooperative, Council and

    real estate agents, create promotional material which is distributed to all new residents

    (both home owners and renters) which highlights pertinent points about living in an area

    reliant on agribusiness.

3.3 Agri-Tourism

    An emerging industry sector in the Boonah District is agri-tourism. The location of the District in near

    proximity to Brisbane and the Gold Coast means that there is a ready market for farm stays, farm

    tours, boutique product sales and other such activities which use tourism to promote the agribusiness

    sector. Whilst often not major employers, this sector have a significant promotion and marketing

    advantage in allowing visitors to experience the lifestyles of the District through its produce and

    farming operations.

ACTIONS

    a) Develop an Agri-Tourism Group (or build a focus on Agri-Tourism into an existing group’s

    plans) which incorporates current successful business operators to advocate for specific

    issues relating to tourism activities linked with agribusiness operations.

    b) Investigate planning constraints with regard to the development of tourism opportunities

    and work with Council and DIP in developing solutions for these constraints.

    c) Implement the Farm and Nature Tourism (FANT) Business Development Program to support

    the development of new businesses and to demonstrate peri-urban and agri-tourism

    opportunities.

    d) Work with the businesses emerging out of the FANT Program to promote the agri-tourism

    industry across the Region.

    Page 7 of 8

Draft Terms of Reference for Rural Industry Precinct Plan

The Rural Industry Precinct Plan will take the findings and recommendations of the

    Business/Industry Gap Analysis and the Boonah & District Agribusiness Strategy and drill these broad

    recommendations down to a cadastral level plan, in line with the Department of Infrastructure and

    Planning’s recognised guidelines and processes, in order to plan for preferred land use.

The Rural Precinct Plan should be a concise document consistent with the structure spelt out in the

    DIP implementation guidelines. This should include contextual material explaining the vision and

    intent of rural precinct plans generally and specifically the Agribusiness Strategy. The plan should

    also explain how the rural precinct plan upholds the principles of the SEQ Regional Plan and Scenic

    Rim Regional Council’s desired outcomes, while taking industry needs into account and promoting new agribusiness enterprises.

The issues and opportunities outlined in the Agribusiness Strategy are broadly:

1. INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

    1.4 Water

    1.5 Telecommunications

    1.6 Industrial Land

2. INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT AND PROMOTION

    2.1 Collaborative Industry Promotion and Development

    2.2 Supportive Regulatory Provisions

3 PERI-URBAN AGRICULTURE

    3.1 Rural Residential Land

    3.2 Advocacy/Education

    3.3 Agri-Tourism

The aim is to ensure compatibility between Council’s Planning Scheme, State regulatory provisions

    and industry needs.

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