Peak representative body for Queensland horticulture Growcom has recently welcomed to its ranks a new manager of policy and advocacy, Richard Shannon.
Richard brings a wealth of experience to the role and a huge amount of enthusiasm for the future of horticulture in Queensland.
He has previously worked in Canberra, resolving international market access issues for Australian agricultural products, and in Brisbane developing biosecurity policy and managing emergency responses.
Richard hopes his experience in other areas of government policy, in renewable energy generation and across the education and training portfolio, will prove invaluable to Growcom and its grower members. But he views his farming background as equally important in informing his approach to his new role.
"I grew up on a family farm just north of Toowoomba, among a rich and diverse horticultural growing region at Hampton," he said.
"We ran a dairy until soon after deregulation alongside the commercial and stud cattle business we operate today.
"I've stayed involved with the operation of our farm since and keeping a keen eye on these industries has been instructive.
"Across agriculture the story has been the same. Primary producers are getting squeezed, by stagnant farm gate prices at one end and rising costs of inputs and compliance at the other."
Despite the challenges of growing fruit, vegetables and nuts in Queensland, Richard enters his role at Growcom with great optimism.
"Government at all levels, regardless of colour, will always be an important partner in growing our industry. But the future of our businesses and of horticulture is ultimately in our own hands," he said.
"I've spent a lot of time recently in the local innovation and start-up scene. I understand there's a whole raft of new technology that's likely to bring about big changes to how we grow, distribute and market our produce.
"There will be opportunities for growers here among the disruption. At the same time there will also be opportunities for Growcom to evolve in the way we support our members.
"It's an exciting time to be coming into the role. I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty and as a priority getting out and around the state to meet as many growers as possible."
Richard will coordinate visits to the regions with the respective grower associations. If you'd like to reach out to him in the meantime about a matter of policy, feel free to drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.