Burnett is under-resourced, but group has a plan
"INLAND Burnett is just not resourced as much as our coastal areas.”
This is the opinion of Katie Muller, general manager of Burnett Catchment Care Association which, with the recent provision of a grant under the Building Better Regions Fund, hopes to do something about that.
The first step, she said, was quantifying the problem, figuring out the "known unknowns and unknown unknowns”, to borrow a phrase made famous by former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
The $99,457 grant will fund an Inland Burnett Resource Audit and Strategic Gap Analysis, which, while Mrs Muller conceded sounds like a dry mouthful, was an important exercise for the region.
"We're all about supporting land managers in the Burnett to improve their land management practices,” she said.
But in a "large regional area with an ageing community”, funding officer Misty Green said agriculturalists often didn't know what support and services were available, and providers didn't know where the gaps in the market were.
By June 2020, the association hopes to present their findings in an online SMART (Sustainable Management and Agricultural Resources and Tools) hub.
This would be a single website where agriculturalists could find links to "anything and everything”, Mrs Muller said, offering examples such as erosion management, water infrastructure or grain storage.
"It's mostly agricultural, practical stuff that a farmer might need to access to better their practice management, business or access to market,” Ms Green said.
The audit will cover North and South Burnett local government areas.
The association, a registered charity, is currently in the process of becoming a tax-deductible gift recipient, opening the way for philanthropic donations to further their work.
While the association's primary focus was supporting land managers in the Burnett region, Mrs Muller said in the past decade or so the association has added growing employment opportunities to their credo.
"We want to see professional people living in our smaller communities and contributing,” she said.
"Their entire social and economic fabric is based around agriculture and land management.”
Other projects the association is currently delivering is the Natural Disaster Resilience program, focused on North Burnett regional communities, and the Monto Agricultural Strategy, which aims to help primary producers diversify their income streams and ensure more reliable farm incomes.