A FAR North Queensland organic beef producing family is humbled with the response to a crowdfunding campaign instigated to return their decade-old operation to its former glory.
Pioneers in organic beef production, the Jonsson family – headed by owner and matriarch Kerry – lost their certified organic abattoir at Tully early this year to a mandatory state government land acquisition.
Their integrated organic business, where they maintain control of the genetics, feeding, nurturing and processing of the end product, is based on the 70,000 acre Jervoise Station, north-west of Townsville. It has been fully certified organic since 1996.
“We just couldn't believe it was happening, and that there wasn't anything we could do about it,” said Kerry Jonsson, who is one the mend after suffering a heart attack six weeks ago.
The family accepted a payout but it was insufficient to allow them to build a new abattoir.
But the worse was yet to come. Their bank assessed their debt using non-organic values and took the payout.
“I think its shocking for anyone to have to take this action,” Mrs Jonsson said.
“I’ve been to the bottom of the barrel. I rotate from getting terribly sad, to terribly disappointed and ropably angry.
“Australians need to get their backbone back.
“We have major banks that post billions of dollars in profit proudly but maybe there needs to be a bank for people who live in Australia that want to invest in Australia and is Australian owned.”
The crowdfunding campaign aims to raise $250,000 which the Jonssons hope to combine with a yet-to-be approved loan of $650,000 from the State Government's Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA).
Mrs Jonsson admits to not understanding the crowdfunding campaign which was instigated by some of her Townsville customers but said the response had been humbling.
”I had a gentleman email me and say to me he would loan the money or bring something to the table,” Mrs Jonsson said.
“I had another gentleman offer to do the drawings for me. I had a call from a gentleman in Charters Towers who has an abattoir that is not being used and our biggest donation was from a man in London who spent some time at Jervoise Station.
“It looks like I am going to be able to do it (rebuild) because of the generosity of people I haven’t met. “
Mrs Jonsson said her ultimate goal was to build a purpose-built abattoir on Jervoise Station to supply a consistently good product to the growing market.
With the organic meats side of their business their main source of income, the Jonssons have hired facilities around North Queensland since losing the abattoir.
“It’s exhausting – physically, mentally and financially.”