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Agriculture provides a steady hand during mining explosions, but is it getting enough support?

When the mining boom in central Queensland stopped ten years ago, John Hallam’s hotel in the town of Capella emptied almost overnight.

Most important points:

The Central Highlands has 11 of the region’s 43 coal mines located in Queensland’s Bowen Basin. The agricultural sector pumps nearly $1 billion into the economy every year. There’s room to grow agriculture, and Mayor Kerry Hayes would like the political parties to get the right investment path

“It was devastating,” said Mr. Hallam.

He praises the diversity of the region’s industry, especially agriculture, to keep the city’s businesses afloat.

Mr. Hallam said that given the contribution livestock and crops have made to the state, it was wrong for the major parties to ignore regional and national votes during this election campaign.

“Everything she [politicians] What seems to me to be doing is they are chasing the populated areas where the voices are, and they are ignoring the rural people,” he said.

“Without a farmer, we would starve.”

John Hallam has seen many mining explosions in his 37 years in Capella. (ABC Capricornia: Erin Semmler)

mining explosions

Billion dollar industry

The Central Highlands is located in the Bowen Basin, Australia’s largest coal deposits and 11 of the region’s 43 coal mines.

It also pumps out nearly $1 billion a year through agriculture.

It has the largest citrus plantation in the Southern Hemisphere. It produces table grapes, beef, cotton, and grains.

The region’s mayor, Kerry Hayes, said the two industries are not competing but would like to see more government support and agricultural investment.

“We have people who are changing agriculture, changing products, and these are all words governments like to see,” said Mr. Hayes.

“But they seem to have a bit of a block when they actually see it happening in regions and don’t get that regional investment path right.”

ANALYSIS: Keep up to date with the latest news from the campaign journey with Annabel Crabb

Kerry Hayes says industries now co-exist, unlike 30 years ago when mining leases moved into farmland, causing some fear. (ABC Capricornia: Erin Semmler)

In March, the National Farmers Federation identified 20 regional centers and recommended more than $1.4 billion in new investment to grow their populations.

One of these centers is Emerald, with a population of just under 14,500 people in the heart of the Central Highlands.

“It would mean investing in infrastructure, housing, and health to make these livable communities,” Mr. Hayes said of the NFF proposal.

Mr. Hayes said the annual agricultural output in the region was significant and growing. Still, the problem was Labor and ensuring people could come to the area to accept his jobs.

Mobile coverage and housing

Renee Anderson operates a cotton farm on the outskirts of Emerald. Despite the unusual rain in May that destroyed some crops in the region, she said the industry was looking bright.

“Coal isn’t the only place in the city where there are jobs,” said Ms. Anderson, pointing out that about 1,500 businesses in Emerald deal with agriculture.

“We need those supporting industries if we’re going to get families here…and mining, it’s boom and bust a lot of the time, so we need other industries that keep the communities going in those years.”

The unusual rain in May could spell disaster for Renee Anderson’s mung bean crop. (ABC Capricornia: Erin Semmler)

But there were some barriers.

“We currently have people moving into town for the cotton industry and struggling to find housing,” said Ms. Anderson.

There was also the issue of telecommunications.

“All of our farms are run online, be it banking or marketing, and everything we do is cloud-based,” she said.

“It’s sometimes quite tricky to get a call.”

Ms. Anderson would also like attention to a good road network to get products to and from rural areas and cities.

Keeping people in the community

Arjun Bloemer is the chief executive of the Central Highland Development Corporation and said he would like to see “a little more” commitment from both Labor and the LNP.

Arjan Bloemer says that one of the region’s biggest challenges is attracting and housing workers. (ABC Capricornia: Erin Semmler)

The company is advocating for agriculture and the region, and at times there was a bit of frustration about not being heard, Mr. Bloemer said.

“We’re seeing a lot of focus on the coastal areas, but it’s up to us to make sure we’re heard,” he said.

Despite the economic opportunities in agriculture, the biggest challenge was attracting and retaining a labor force.

“Liveability is an important topic for us and the affordability of homes,” says Bloemer.

“There is a need for more affordable housing because not everyone works in the mining industry and can afford part of the requested rents. That creates a challenge.”

Election news:

With a large horticultural sector, the challenge has been to get a foreign workforce, especially due to COVID.

“So we are very excited about an effective visa program and strong global relationships to attract the right people to support our industry,” added Mr. Bloemer.

Larry Daniels has spent his life running a mix of livestock and crops north of Emerald and has seen mining cycles rise and fall.

While mining has had a big say, he said farming wasthe region’s people never forgot farmingiels says agriculture has been transformed by science and technology, with crops that can grow with minimal rainfall. (ABC Capricorn: Erin Semmler)

“Some miners have come and gone, but we’re in a good position here because of our diversity of livestock, crops, irrigation, and mining. It’s kept most businesses afloat,” he said.

And the push for mining wasn’t as strong as it was a decade or two ago, he said.

political promises

David Littleproud of the LNP said central Queensland was an important agricultural production area of ​​Australia, but the coalition shares the industry’s concerns across Australia.

“The government would prioritize solving the agricultural labor shortage by signing more countries on the agricultural visa, so there is a long-term solution to this problem,” said Mr. Littleproud.

“We will expand the reach of our farmers into new and expanded export markets with the work of our agricultural ambassadors around the world and simplify the processes for exporters to get their products overseas.

“Protecting our agriculture from biosecurity threats so that the industry can continue to grow and reach its target of $100 billion by 2030 is a priority.”

Labor candidates for Flynn and Capricornia, Matt Burnett and Russell Roberston, said the ALP understood the importance of the agricultural industry in central Queensland as it supported local jobs and the local economy and put food on local tables.

“That’s why Labor has pledged $6 million for Beef Week 2024 to support local industry and showcase CQ to the world,” the party said in a statement.

“An Albanian Labor government has real, practical plans for future growth, such as the National Reconstruction Fund, which will help producers in central Queensland grow and add value to their businesses.

“It is difficult to find workers for the industries we rely on, so Labor will address the farmer shortages by issuing a special farmer visa and free TAFE places for those studying in a skills shortage area. , to solve the long-term.” pipeline of workers.”

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Dorothy R. Barrett

I’m a full-time blogger by passion. This is my first blog, and I'm excited to share everything that I love about technology, business, and lifestyle with you. I’m a writer by trade, and I can be found writing about tech, business, and lifestyle on my personal blog.

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