Around 12 beef producers from North Queensland have flagged an interest in a beef co-operative project instigated by a Charters Towers grazier.
Speaking at the Northern Beef Producers Expo at Charters Towers, Emma Robinson, Caephilly Station, Charters Towers, said funding was in the pipeline from a Federal Government program, Farming Together, to assist with initial start-up costs.
She said the group was starting to model leverage points.
“We are building it from the ground up, so we are after producers that want to be part of that journey, see value in the concept and are prepared to commit some brain power, ideas and energy to making it work,” Mrs Robinson said.
“People are dealing with today’s challenges like the drought so it is hard to think about the big picture but I think there is a general ethos around that producers need to cooperate.
“I think this approach is going to sit best with those guys that already have a bit of scale.
“It won’t be just one co-operative though, there may be opportunity for smaller producers to do other things.”
Drought and the “roller coaster ride of pricing” motivated the 2016 Queensland RIDRC Rural Woman of the Year to look more closely at the why behind family farming.
Mrs Robinson used a Winston Churchill Fellowship in 2015 to study farming co-operatives overseas.
“Increasingly consumers and community see the more they support family farming the more connection they have with the food that they are eating,” Mrs Robinson said.
“Everyone talks about the great opportunity ahead of us and beef is part of that.”
Mrs Robinson will bring together key players at a forum later this year.
She said it would involve stakeholders who had already made the shift from being producers to part of a vertically integrated business “to create some energy around that idea and look at the reality.”
Mrs Robinson said projected demand for beef from Asia could be the catalyst for change.
“There is a suggestion that 43 per cent more supply will be needed by 2050, with 75 pc projected growth being on our doorstep in Asia,” she said.
“If we want to take advantage of that opportunity, we need to think about change, not simply to be better grass managers, better at genetics or more efficient.
“I think that’s what we need to do to break even.
“But increasingly if we are going to take advantage of those opportunities we need to be part of the supply chain rather than simply selling to the supply chain.”