Workshop held at Terrica Woolshed 22nd July 2016
Traprock Group Association members and guests spent a thought provoking day at Terrica, workshopping possible ways to enable landholders in the area to diversify their businesses. Guests included representatives from all three levels of Government, as well as officers from the Qld Department of Natural Resources and Mines. The day was facilitated by a group led by Prof Geoff Cockfield, from the University of Southern Qld.
Bim Goodrich started the morning session referring to the positive and negative attributes of living and working in the Traprock, which were aired at the 2014 Annual General Meeting. For example, it is considered a benefit being within 3 hours drive of a population of 4.5 million people. The Traprock area has relied largely on the extensive grazing of quality wool producing merinos for 170 years, however it has become increasingly difficult to support more than one family on a wool growing property, and therefore it’s hard to attract the next generation of young people back into the area.
One possible answer is to look at more intensive agricultural systems. Three very informative presentations were made by people who have diversified into intensive food production, outlining the challenges and opportunities of these operations. Members Sandy and Lyle Batterham, near Karara, developed their aquaculture business beginning in 1996 growing silver perch, delivered weekly to Brisbane for metropolitan markets. Members Sam and Jo Fessey, near Warwick, have built sheds to produce meat chickens under contract. Tim Carnell and his family at Glen Aplin, grow tomatoes and capsicums, and are relying increasingly on technology to manage costs and improve management decisions. All three businesses named water availability as a major factor in their decision making.
These presentations provided an introduction to a brainstorming session facilitated by Geoff Cockfield, on possible diversifications for the Traprock country. Justin Heaven (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) contributed with an outline of government funding available to encourage new enterprises. Suggestions from the floor included horticulture, share farming, tourism, power generation, intensive livestock production and organic meat production.
Following a delicious barbeque lunch provided by the Southern Downs ICPA, and time for networking, Duncan Ferrier outlined strategic works done so far by the Traprock Group’s Natural Resources Committee.
Rod Glass (University of Southern Qld) spoke of the value of having young people in the community, their energy and embracement of technology; and also of the importance of evaluating the risks of any new enterprise.
Geoff Cockfield then led a session to identify what factors would need to be considered in the formation of a Traprock regional development plan.
Lastly, Traprock Group member and Inglewood & Texas Landcare Association Chair Geoff Elliot, gave a demonstration of the drone they are using as part of a project identifying and treating areas of weed infestation on the Dumaresq River. The day finished with time for refreshments and conversation.
Contribution ~ Dinie Ferrier