KEY POINTS: Monto Agricultural Strategy
DISASTER hit Monto in the form of severe flash flooding in October 2017, leading members of the Monto Growers Group to get together and use this loss of $4.5 million as motivation to work towards developing the Monto Agricultural Strategy.
The Monto Agricultural industry has been in turmoil following this extreme loss, one of seven floods in the past eight years, along with two separate and plaguing drought declarations.
But, do not despair. The Monto Growers Group have been working smarter (not harder) to best project the Monto agricultural industry forward despite such an unfortunate series of events.
A survey was distributed amongst local land owners, for the strategy to best address their needs.
North Burnett Regional Council Mayor Rachel Chambers has also voiced her support.
"People, Profit and Planet. It is with this understanding of the intrinsic connection between environmental vitality, economic security and social well-being, that the Monto Agricultural Strategy has been developed,” she said in the strategy.
"This strategy makes clear, that the only way to move forward, is together. Long-term success depends on strong partnerships between growers and all levels of government and industry, to advocate for efficiency gains, innovation, trust and leadership that serves to advance capacity within the sector.
"The North Burnett boasts a fertile and versatile landscape that allows for a variety of different crops, produce and livestock. With an ever-increasing global market for high quality, fresh food, the region, and its immense agricultural capabilities is well placed to capitalise on these opportunities now, and into the future.”
Key drivers identified by the community (through the survey) that have affected agricultural sustainability in the Monto district were:
- Financial viability broadly driven by improved productivity, efficiency, knowledge and technical advice, market access and predictability in commodity prices.
- Improved risk mitigation.
- Environmental sustainability and stewardship.
- Legislative requirements.
Three key outcomes were then identified off the back of these drivers:
1. Access to information, tools and resources.
For the industry to grow sustainably, landowners need better access to tools to assist them.
Specifically the strategy proposed a regionally specific 'SMART-Hub' (Sustainable Management and Agricultural Resources and Tools). It will be an online hub designed to enhance user accessibility and connection to regionally relevant, smart farming resources.
Encouraging personal connection and checking in with your neighbours and mates has also been touched on.
2. Exploration of alternative and emerging opportunities.
Survey respondents rated diversification as one of the top five most important factors to improving the profitability of their agricultural businesses.
A detailed investigation into fresh opportunities to suit the growing conditions of Monto and the North Burnett will be undertaken.
Agri-tourism as an income supplement was also suggested.
3. Advocacy, promotion and pursuit of regional infrastructure investment
The strategy outlined a need to advocate for and promote an additional B-Double grade road and rail investment to improve and extend commodity transportation options and efficiency. There is a need to connect producers and advocacy groups with government entities if Monto wants to effectively communicate their road and rail infrastructure needs.
Supporting WBBROC's First and Last Mile and Freight Logistics projects and its Building the future trade potential of Wide Bay Burnett agenda was also detailed. Along with advocating for better telecommunication services and access to more affordable energy and water supply.