The rough road to groundbreaking ag strategy
THE launch of the Monto Agricultural Strategy has been exceptionally well received by local land owners, with shared aspirations for the document to help the region create a thriving and sustainable agricultural future.
Matthew Pattie, president of the Monto Growers Group and local land-owner, said he was impressed by the document and had high hopes for the change it will catalyse.
"I'm doing it tough. Just like most farmers are,” he said.
"I don't have a supplemented income. I'm 100 per cent farm income. To lose everything like we did in the flood was devastating.
"The new strategy is to key to helping and inspiring farmers just like me.”
Mr Pattie was referring to the 2017 flood in Monto. The uncontrollable natural disaster responsible for kick starting the Monto Agricultural Strategy.
"We have suffered. Mentally too,” he said.
"You just don't get over something so drastic like this in a hurry. It's tough. It's your entire life.
"The strategy has identified our weaknesses and strengths so that now if something like this happens again everything has been done and it can all be put forward to the government as evidence for action.”
Mr Pattie went on to praise organiser Naomi Purcell for her commitment to the strategy.
"She has gone above all expectations with this strategy. Taking into consideration the flood as well as the drought we are now in,” he said.
"Instead of being this abstract idea of us all being farmers who need help the strategy really digs into what is real - the threats we face along with our strengths and weaknesses.”
Naomi Purcell has been the driving force behind the Monto Agricultural Strategy and said she was inspired to start the project after experiencing first hand the affects of the 2017 Monto flood.
"I was working for Burnett Catchment Care Association and was involved in putting together the data for applying for disaster funding from the government,” she said.
"So I had all of that in my mind and knew just how bad it was.”
Ms Purcell said the launch last Thursday evening (September 29) was a huge success with over 45 Monto local land owners in attendance.
"Everyone had a great night and a lot of copies of the strategy (done up as a book) went out the door with those who were here,” she said.
"Now we want to see this used as a base document that anyone can use to look for opportunities and as leverage - to say there is data to support these ideas for anybody to create a relevant project around Monto agriculture.
"I'm hoping it may even act as a pilot project for other North Burnett districts. So if more funding comes up we can extend to other areas. Maybe even to the South Burnett.”
Callide MP Colin Boyce praised the document.
"It is wonderful to see the Monto Agricultural Strategy launched last week, an excellent initiative by BCCA and they are to be commended on their work on this project,” he said.
"It was federally-funded by nearly $100,000 through Ken O'Dowd and the LNP, in the Building Better Regions Fund Community Investments stream funding offers.
"I particularly enjoyed listening to Rob Cook, the guest speaker for the evening, and his story of adversity and resilience.
"The formation of partnerships such as BCCA and BIEDO, to support the agricultural sector and listen to the needs of the community can only strengthen the region.”
The new Monto Agricultural Strategy is available here.