The Queensland government has backed the state’s sheep and goat meat industry to double the value of production to $150 million per annum and create over 100 new jobs in regional communities.
The government is also backing the strategy with $4 million in grants over two years, to help the industry leverage the benefits of cluster fencing.
“Agriculture is an essential industry and a vital part of Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan,” minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said.
“Queensland’s sheep and goat meat industries have an unprecedented opportunity for growth and prosperity. The sector is surging back to life after decades of decline caused by wild dogs, poor sheep and wool prices, and drought.
“Global demand for red meat is increasing and prices for sheep and goat meat are forecast to remain strong for the foreseeable future. Local farmers, town workers and their communities from the Darling Downs to the vast sheep and goat producing areas of the outback are set to benefit from this resurgence,” he said.
“The Queensland Sheep and Goat Meat Strategy has been developed to ensure the industry and our regions can make the most of this accelerated growth.”
The strategy supports a market-researched focus on customers, local production and processing facilities, working with industry to upskill workers, ensuring sustainable supply and nurturing trade partnerships to develop new markets.
It highlights the need to embrace digital and other technologies to develop and improve traceability, food safety and biosecurity measures.
Funding will be available through Rural Agricultural Development (RAD) Grants, which will fund measures that complement existing cluster fencing to help grow the sheep industry in Western and Southern Queensland.
“Enterprises will be looking for opportunities to leverage off the protection that cluster fencing provides, as well as the industry-developed Sheep and Goat Blueprint and Sheep meat investment strategy,” Furner said.
“These will be co-contribution grants of up to $200,000 for sheep and wool agribusinesses wanting to start ‘shovel-ready’ projects that create jobs for value-added primary production and provide significant economic benefits to rural and regional communities.”
In 2019-20, Queensland exported $85 million worth of sheep and goat products into markets including the United States and China.
The new strategy promotes and supports the industry’s growth, with a particular focus on small-scale processors grow jobs and economic activity in rural and outback towns.
“We will work with the sheep and goat meat processing sector to reach its potential, from the large export focussed businesses through to smaller family-run processors with a domestic focus,” Furner said.
“Rebuilding sheep and goat numbers, improving regional processing capability and value chain innovation will enhance Queensland’s reputation for world-class, naturally grown, sustainable sheep and goat meat into the future.”
Sheep meat production in Queensland is expected to increase by 60 per cent in the next 10 years.
“Opportunities within the sheep and goat industry in Queensland have been significantly enhanced through the construction of cluster fences to control wild dogs,” Furner said.
“Since 2015, the Palaszczuk government has allocated almost $25 million for the Queensland Feral Pest Initiative, with 9,000 kilometres of fencing to enclose and protect 6.5 million hectares of grazing land.”
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries developed the Queensland Sheep and Goat Meat Strategy in close consultation with technical experts and key stakeholders, including AgForce, the Australian Meat Industry Council and the Goat Industry Council of Australia.