RURAL development grants of up to $200,000 will be available to Queensland sheep and goat industry businesses in a $4 million boost to the sector.
The $4 million grants boost over the two years aimed to leverage the benefits of the Palaszczuk Government’s investments in cluster fencing.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said because of the success of the cluster fencing program which had seen the return of the sheep industry in western Queensland, businesses benefitting from it will get a further boost.
“The Rural Agricultural Development grants of up to $200,000 per business will help sheep and goat enterprises, businesses along the supply chain, and businesses that use sheep and goat-derived materials in their products or activities.
“We have a strategy to double the value of sheep and goat production and we want businesses to keep pace with new opportunities this will bring,” the Premier said.
Eligible grant activities include:
- developing a new market for sheep or goat products
- developing a niche product or brand for the sheep and goat product market
- expanding the capabilities of businesses in the supply chain (for example, by providing specialised training or equipment).
The Premier said the government wanted businesses to grow and diversify as the industry grows.
“These grants can help businesses with that by developing new products, implementing new technologies, upgrading equipment or training.”
Premier Palaszczuk said she was proud of the successful cluster fencing program that has been running since 2015.
“When I first became Premier, I sat down with graziers outside Charleville and Longreach and they told me their heartbreaking stories of wild dogs and feral pests killing their livestock.
“The situation had become so bad, that the number of sheep in Queensland fell from over 8.5 million in 2001 to 1.8 million in 2016, a decline of over 80 percent,” she said.
“Since then, we’ve committed more than $26 million to assist communities with constructing cluster fences and controlling invasive plants and animals.
“More than 9,000 kilometres of fencing has been approved and 400 sheep-producing properties have been protected,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“We’ve protected sheep, the livelihoods of farmers, brought jobs to the regions and bolstered economic activity in these communities.”
The Premier said in the completed cluster fencing projects area, lambing rates had gone from 40pc to upwards of 80pc, and sheep numbers had almost doubled from 270,000 to nearly 500,000 head.
“Cluster fencing has reduced wild dog predation, sheep and wool prices remain high and demand for red meat is increasing.”
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said in the decade ahead there was a tremendous opportunity for Queensland’s sheep and goat meat industries as the sector rapidly scales up.
“Under our Sheep and Goat Meat Processing Strategy, we are striving to double the value of sheep and goat production to $150 million per year and create over 100 new jobs,” the Minister said.
“This funding will allow businesses in the industry build their capacity to better meet the needs of customers while expanding their customer base.”
“The Palaszczuk Government has consistently invested in cluster fencing since 2015, and these grants will help producers and related businesses to reap the benefits,” Minister Furner said.
For information on the grants and application details, visit qrida.qld.gov.au/program/rural-agricultural-development-grants
Applicants will need to submit an Expression Of Interest and match any funding with a minimum co-contribution of 50pc. If deemed suitable they will then be requested to proceed to a full application.
For more information on the cluster fencing program – https://notjustafence.org/