Agriculture as we know it in Queensland is again heading into unchartered territory with some areas of our farming communities entering their eighth year of drought. Combined with the threat of African Swine Fever which could potentially devastate the pork industry and the burden of uncompetitive and high energy prices. Add in unreliable and increasingly unaffordable water supplies, and seemingly unsympathetic governments transferring environmental and social burdens including vegetation management and Reef protection regulations, we wonder where agriculture is headed in this state.
Despite this, farmers and country people are strong and stand steadfast as these precariously poised dominoes threaten to fall and further squeeze margins and profitability. It’s their stoicism and persistence that has inspired me during the past four years as President of the Queensland Farmers’ Federation. But my time has come to an end and I intend to step down at this week’s QFF Annual General Meeting, allowing someone new to take up the position.
I have been lucky enough to meet many industry stakeholders and learn directly from farmers about the food, fibre and foliage they produce, the amenity they provide, and the ingenuity and innovation they continually demonstrate. I thank our farming leaders and their staff from QFF’s respective industry member organisations for their support and contribution to the collective agenda of intensive, semi-intensive and irrigated agriculture in Queensland. QFF would not exist without the service, dedication and collective vision of individual farmers aspiring for a better deal for the agricultural sector. Finally, it has been a pleasure working with Travis (CEO) and the entire QFF team on a range of important policy areas and projects which we deliver across the agriculture sector.
I am confident that QFF will continue to strive for the right policy settings and effective collaboration between industry, government and the community to help overcome the challenges and realise the opportunities for the sector under a new, but equally competent and capable leadership team. As I return to my cotton farm on the Darling Downs, I know Queensland agriculture will overcome its current and future challenges. It’s not goodbye but see you later.