LOOKING AHEAD: BCCA's Katie Muller, Misty Green and Melinda Clarke are working to ensure a sustainable future for their farms and their families.
LOOKING AHEAD: BCCA's Katie Muller, Misty Green and Melinda Clarke are working to ensure a sustainable future for their farms and their families. Mackenzie Colahan

Study to unlock growers' economic potential

THE Burnett Catchment Care Association are to develop a strategic plan for growers in the Monto district after successfully applying for $95,780 in Federal Government funding.

The Building Better Regions Fund Community Investment stream handed out grants totalling more than $4 million to 109 projects across regional Australia to unlock the economic potential of rural communities.

Driven by input from growers, the BCCA grant will fund research that carefully analyses current farming practices, as well as assessing economic and environmental trends.

The study will highlight growth opportunities and develop a long-term vision for sustainable agriculture they hope will benefit farmers and the local economy.

Monto-based BCCA is not-for-profit that works in partnership with landholders to support sustainable land management across the region.

Their general manager, Katie Muller, said the project was borne out of the need to help primary producers adapt to changing climate conditions and market pressures, and comes in response to the natural disasters that devastated crops in recent years.

"Our farmers have been significantly affected by flooding events, and with droughts in between nobody has been able to get back on their feet,” Mrs Muller said.

"There has been no strategy or study done in the Three Moon Valley for an extended period of time.

"Growers do not have the time or the ability to do something like this.

"It will help farmers improve their management practices and plan for long-term success.”

BCCA believe the project will strengthen relationships between growers, government and other stakeholders, while enabling the district's growers to operate more efficiently and effectively.

Mrs Muller said it was impossible to overstate the importance of agriculture to the future of the North Burnett's small towns.

"I don't know where this community would be without agriculture,” Mrs Muller said.

"The community has a strong agricultural focus and we want it to be sustainable into the future.

"We're trying not to dwell on things and move forward.

"Farmers are extremely resilient and this study is about looking at other options and getting on with things.”

In announcing the funding, Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government, John McVeigh, said the initiative aimed to boost economic prosperity and safeguard the future of regional communities.

"Regional and remote areas of Australia face unique challenges and have a huge potential for economic growth,” Dr McVeigh said.

"Strong community planning is essential for the successful longevity of regional Australia.

"Projects were selected from over 270 applications, reflecting the strong community backing for this investment.”

The Federal Government has pledged a further $200 million to the next round of funding, with applications expected to open in coming months.

A full list of successful round two projects under the Community Investment stream are available at www.business.gov.au/bbrf.