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More veggies sprout in the Southern Downs with new grant

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From chillies and capsicums to cabbage and cucumbers, Wallaroo Produce Supplies in Severnlea will soon feed more mouths thanks to funding from the Queensland government’s Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant scheme. 

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, said that Queensland produce providers growing alongside demand is critical to ensuring long-term sustainability and good jobs across the industry. 

“The Southern Downs is home to some of the best crops in Australia,” Furner said. “The more summer vegetables we can produce and consume on home soil, the better. That’s why projects like this to increase capacity and boost efficiency through infrastructure upgrades are so important. This expansion won’t just benefit the industry, but the entire Southern Downs community through local job creation.” 

Wallaroo Produce Supplies will use the funding to expand its produce storage and packing facilities, automate processes and install a dedicated cold room. 

“We’re excited to share our more than 45 years of experience in the horticulture industry as we expand our enterprise,” Wallaroo Produce Supplies managing director John Patane said. 

“The expansion will generate 12 direct full-time jobs and employ even more during the construction phase. Many of these ongoing jobs will be long-term, skilled positions that we hope we can fill within our own community to boost the local economy.” 

Patane said that by upgrading the infrastructure in the storage and packing lines of the business, the company will be able to pack its own broccolini for the first time. 

“Being able to store the different vegetables at different temperatures means we can produce more and do everything on-farm,” he said. “The cold room installation will immediately allow for approximately double our field production capacity.” 

Wallaroo Produce Supplies is one of 16 businesses approved in the fourth round of the RED Grants program, with total funding of just over $3 million. Overall, these 16 projects are expected to create more than 217 direct long-term jobs across regional Queensland. 

The initial three rounds of the RED Grants Program have seen funding of $10 million over three years to support more than 30 projects which have created 1,800 jobs across regional Queensland. 

The state government has continued its investment with a further $6.6 million to be delivered in two rounds over the next two years to generate better jobs, expand agricultural supply chains and provide significant economic benefit to rural areas. 

For more information about the RED Grant scheme, visit www.qrida.qld.gov.au. 

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