More than $3.6 billion has been invested in Queensland agriculture in the 25 years since the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) was established but there is plenty more to be done in regional Queensland.
This month marks a quarter of a century since QRIDA (formerly QRAA) began helping Queensland primary producers and other industries do more, assisting close to 93,000 clients to establish and expand their businesses, or recover from natural disasters through a range of government financial assistance programs administered through QRIDA.
Minister for Agriculture, Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said already more than $1 billion in low-interest loans for Queensland farmers had been approved through the flagship Primary Industry Productivity Enhancement Scheme to assist new entrants into agriculture and to build long term productivity and sustainability.
Another $865 million has been delivered in disaster recovery grants and loans to help primary producers, small businesses and non-profit organisations to get back on their feet after cyclones, floods, fires and other natural disasters.
“QRIDA and its predecessor QRAA has had strong support from successive governments over its 25 years history and that’s because the organisation has always been strongly focused on dedicated service delivery for Queensland agriculture,” Mr Furner said.
“During the last five years alone under the Palaszczuk Government, First Start Loans to help new entrants into agriculture have increased from $650,000 to $2 million while total PIPES lending was increased to $100 million annually.
“Farm Management Grants to help families with farm succession planning were introduced, with close to $3 million approved over the past three years.
“Other QRIDA-administered programs and services introduced over the past five years under the Palaszczuk Government include Farm Business Debt Mediation, the Farm Debt Restructure office and the re-instatement of the biennial Rural Debt Survey.”
Mr Furner said more than 600 jobs will be created in the state’s agricultural industry under the first round of the Regional Economic Development (RED) Grants approved earlier this year with further rounds of funding over the next two financial years totalling $10 million.
“Our Rural Economic Development grants are so important because they help existing agricultural businesses to value-add and expand their capacity and create more jobs in rural communities,” Mr Furner said.
QRIDA Chief Executive Officer Cameron MacMillan said as the organisation reflected on the past 25 years, including periods of extensive industry development to devastating disaster, he couldn’t help but look forward to what else QRIDA could do in the future.
“In total, QRIDA has administered more than 90 different loan, grant and rebate assistance programs,” Mr MacMillan said.
“It’s a commitment we’re proud of – and there is more to be done with an exciting future for Queensland agriculture.
“With challenges for our clients such as climate and markets becoming even more significant, we need to continue to be agile and evolve in order to best support our clients.
“Agriculture is going to change a lot in the next 25 years and we are committed to adapting with Queensland farmers and helping them to invest in infrastructure like fencing, water, energy, digital and other technologies and contemporary management practices.
“QRIDA has an increasingly regionalised service delivery model with Regional Area Managers on the ground across 11 regions with close to a quarter of our staff now based in the regions. Our service ethic has been the success of our organisation over 25 years.”
“Our people have always had agriculture and rural Queensland in their DNA, and we have the skills and passion to understand our clients’ needs.
“We are proud of what we have achieved in the past 25 years but we’re even more proud of what else we can do, alongside regional Queensland, in the future.”
Image Credit: Cameron MacMillan