Agriculture a focus of NQ plan

North Queensland plan to deliver for agriculture

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Proximity to northern Australia and the Asia-Pacific will provide ongoing benefits for agriculture in North Queensland. Picture - Port of Townsville Limited.

Proximity to northern Australia and the Asia-Pacific will provide ongoing benefits for agriculture in North Queensland. Picture - Port of Townsville Limited.

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North Queensland's position as an agricultural powerhouse has been further cemented with a 25-year plan aiming to capitalise on growth in the region.

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NORTH Queensland's position as an agricultural powerhouse has been further cemented with a 25-year plan aiming to capitalise on growth in the region.

The first North Queensland Regional Plan, released by the state government, outlines the priorities for prosperity and growth in the Townsville, Charters Towers, Burdekin, Hinchinbrook and Palm Island shires.

Neighbouring regions from Cairns to Mackay are also positioned to benefit.

The plan highlights North Queensland's proximity to the Asia-Pacific, saying the region was in a prime position to capatilise on demand, particularly for agricultural commodities and beef.

It highlights the importance of agriculture to the region, saying it had been a mainstay of the north's economy for the last 120 years.

The gross value of agricultural commodities produced (VACP) in the region is estimated at more than $929.8 million, representing seven per cent of Queensland's total VACP.

Planning Minister Cameron Dick said the plan would create more jobs in more industries.

"North Queensland is in the midst of an exciting period of change and growth and the regional plan will ensure the region continues to grow in a sustainable way," Mr Dick said.

"Traditional industry sectors such as agriculture, defence and resources are thriving and innovative industries like advanced manufacturing and renewable energy are emerging.

"The demographics of the region are also changing and by 2041 more than 90,000 additional people are expected to be living in the area, requiring 35,000 new jobs."

Mr Dick said the plan identified significant industry development opportunities that will be key to future success of the region.

The five economic pillars include agribusiness, renewable energy, defence, advanced manufacturing and tourism.

"As northern Australia's centre of major agricultural production and mineral exports, the region has well established supply chain and logistics linkages, with an economic network that reaches across northern Australia and beyond," the plan states.

"North Queensland benefits from its proximity to both domestic and Asia-Pacific markets and its reputation for high quality produce.

"With increases in market demand expected to grow in step with global population growth, there will be opportunities to expand agricultural production within the region."

Protecting cropping and horticulture industries, including cane, fruit and vegetable farms, were cited as a priority, with the plan identifying Priority Agricultural Areas which will be protected from incompatible non-agricultural development.

The region's beef industry has also been highlighted for its national significance.

"Headlined by live exports from the Port of Townsville, a large processing facility at Stuart and regional saleyards at Charters Towers, the region is the industry focal point for north and north west Queensland."

It said the stock route was also an important agricultural asset, with continued management of the network, including camping and water reserves, road and watering facilities, vital for maintenance and expansion of the region's grazing industry.

Growth opportunities include the potential for new processing facilities in Charters Towers, or expanded feed and finishing lots near the Townsville port to capitalise on growing demand from Asia for high quality beef.

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