The $77 million Gympie industry that goes 'unrecognised'
AS DEBATE about Gympie's economic future beefs up, prominent graziers and producers hope a $77 million industry isn't carved out of the picture.
Industries like tourism are important to the region's growth, but Goomeri grazier John Cotter says it is imperative the impact of the cattle industry is not forgotten.
"It is unrecognised as such a significant industry in Gympie region," he said yesterday.
"The old Kilkivan Shire was one of the biggest beef producers per capita."
ABS data reveals that, in 2015-16, livestock slaughterings alone accounted for more than half of Gympie's agricultural value, which was tabbed at $149 million.
Dairy was the next closest at $26 million.
In terms of value added in 2016-17, the region's agriculture sub-section was worth $154.6 million.
By comparison, the value of tourism in that period to the region was $56 million.
Mr Cotter, who runs about 2500 cattle at Kinbombi Station, said discussions about improving the region's economy should not ignore the contribution of cattle production.
"You've got to think about what makes this region tick; and the beef industry is if not the major player, a very significant player," he said.
"It's a 'here all the time' industry.
"It's 24/7, 52 weeks a year this industry is consuming, generating.
"People just take it for granted because it's been here forever."
The impact on the economy went beyond the farm, too, he said.
"The employment's not just the stockmen.
"We used to work on one-in-five: if you can create a job... it'll take five people to service those people around you.
"That's what contributes to the viability of the Mitre10 and the Bunnings and Woolworths and Coles.
"Have a look at what's put through... just in the cattle sales.
"If they sell 1000 head of cattle you've probably got 150 vendors in town.
"We've got to recognise this, like making sure roads are suitable for B-doubles.
"That's where the public has got be onside to see this is a preferred place to deal with livestock."
The need for good infrastructure was backed by Nolan Meats director Terry Nolan.
"When you're carting cattle, road is more important than rail," Mr Nolan said.
He pointed to the impending Gympie Bypass as something which presented a golden opportunity for the industry to drive those numbers even higher, and stressed the need for good road access, and open routes for B-doubles.
Agforce's Ivan Naggs said there was a lot of untapped potential given the region's climate.
"We carry more cattle than what they do out west and further northwest," he said.