Beef producers eye Gladstone port as solution to woes
A DROUGHT, plummeting cattle prices and a high Australian dollar have put the cattle industry into crisis - but local producers say they have a survival strategy for the Gladstone region.
Gladstone Region Beef Producers Incorporated aims to fight for local issues, strengthen industry ties and provide a platform to voice opinions about the direction of the industry at a regional level, according to president Leo Neill-Ballantine.
Mr Neill-Ballantine said exporting box beef and possibly live cattle from the Port of Gladstone was a priority for the newly formed group.
"We have some of the biggest processing plants in Rockhampton and Biloela and this big beautiful port in Gladstone that is currently only being used for the resources sector," he said.
"There is no reason why we can't export from Gladstone Port."
He said road and rail access in the region was also an important issue for the group.
GRBP member Matt Turich said the group would hold a Beef Ball on November 9 at the newly redeveloped Gladstone Entertainment Centre, to highlight the history and importance of the beef industry in the region, and outline the role it could potentially have in future.
"This event will provide the first real opportunity for producers and industry representatives to gain a first-hand insight into the activities being carried out up and down stream of their operations," he said.
"I'm extremely optimistic there will be synergies developed as a result of this collaboration," he said.
Mr Turich said guests would dine on local beef while high-profile speakers spoke about beef industry trends.
The night will also feature a charity auction and live entertainment.
Tickets will be made available through the GRBP in the coming weeks.
Mr Turich said proceeds would be donated to the Mt Larcom Show Society to assist in the further development of their cattle section.
"Which in turn will provide further promotion and awareness of local producers and their product," Mr Turich said.
As a founding member of GRBP, the 27-year-old said the area had a long history of agriculture.
"Gladstone was built on agriculture, but it's been lost in all the other industries," he said.
"It's the whole idea of the Gladstone Region Beef Producers Incorporated; it's all about getting recognised and reminding the region that hey we are here."
Mr Turich said his family had been in Benaraby for 150 years and they weren't going anywhere, despite the strains on the industry.
"The industry is huge in this region but it needs to be more on people's radars," Mr Turich said. "We can meet market needs, we just need to create more of a market," he said.
Mr Turich said exporting box beef through the Port of Gladstone would be a way to do this.
"It needs to be a business; there is no point in just doing it for the love anymore."