The Intensive Agriculture conference was a joint initiative of the Western Downs Regional Council (WDRC) and Food Leaders Australia (FLA), held for the first time at the Dalby Showgrounds on Thursday 1 March. It sought to drive collaboration across different sectors, to share knowledge and encourage innovation.

WDRC Mayor Paul McVeigh and his Deputy Andrew Smith were in attendance, with Cr McVeigh saying their aim was to support local businesses and attract outside investors.

“With 68 feedlots and 23 piggeries within our boundaries, intensive agriculture is a huge growth sector for the region, and we are proactively looking at ways to continue its expansion across not just beef and pork, but also poultry,” he said.

“We have the space to sustain ethical, stress free facilities and we have road connectivity to the Port of Brisbane, as well as Wellcamp Airport, which is already globally exporting chilled beef from the Western Downs.”

The event received positive feedback and an additional agriculture conference will be held collaboratively between FLA and WDRC later this year. Around 120 delegates attended the conference, with many remaining in Dalby for the night for a site tour of Sandalwood’s 17,000 head feedlot the following day.

FLA General Manage Bruce McConnel said intensive agriculture was a key driver of economic growth and employment throughout the Western Downs and Southern Queensland.

“This conference positions the region as an industry leader, and it’s this cross-sector collaboration that drives investment opportunities and that showcases the capacity of local producers,” he said.

“The opportunities being created with export both to national and international markets are also a huge boon for the high grade produce from these regions.”

FLA has long pushed for collaboration in the agricultural industry, arguing that Australia has the opportunity to become a pre-eminent exporter of innovative ‘value added’ food products and ingredients.

The conference to be held later  this year is expected to focus on technology advancements in agriculture.

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