As metropolitan areas face COVID-19 lockdowns and uncertainty around large scale event preparation, regional Australia now has the exciting opportunity to start owning the conversations important to our sector.
This includes important conversations on topics such as value-adding food, agtech and exports.
In the past these events have generally been the domain of urban areas, with our largest conferences hosted in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Now, we can start having these conversations in our own backyard and ensuring grassroot support for the industry trends, and adoption of new knowledge required to meet the industry goals.
Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise's Protein 2021 conference is a key example of this.
Attending were nationally recognised speakers from companies including AMPC, FIAL and MLA, who all joined in as part of these important discussions in Dalby recently.
One of the key take-outs was that global protein is growing and there is room on the plate for everyone, including alternative proteins.
We constantly hear within Australia of an increasing emergence of alternative proteins and the rise of veganism, but data surrounding this isn't strong.
Rather that our animal protein sectors are continuing to grow, and our farmers continue to be seen as one of the most trusted professions in Australia.
Protein 2021 demonstrated that while this is true for now, we must continue to answer society's needs around carbon neutrality, animal welfare and environmental sustainability to maintain this position. And that doesn't have to be at a cost.
Creating value out of our waste and having the ability to attract more markets and international competitors due to our carbon neutrality goals are fantastic opportunities for us to meet society's needs and grow this sector.
The sheer strength of the protein industry was evident at our recent protein conference which is now in its fourth year.
One of the learnings out of the conference was the emergence of a new weather system called a El Nino Modoki through the Centre of Applied Climate Science at the University of Southern Queensland.
Dr Chelsea Jarvis taught the audience the significance of a Modoki system and how it differs to a La Nina when it comes to rainfall.
This will be important for producers to watch into the future, enabling them to plan effectively. But it's also crucial for media to understand this system to be able to report on rainfall and how it's impacting our producers.
The El Nino Modoki appears through the SOI as a La Nina system and was during 2019/2020 put forward as a positive sign for wet weather, despite the evidence showing this wouldn't be the case.
The feedback from participants was very positive about not only Dr Jarvis' presentation but many other of our speakers who covered a wide variety of topics.
Bringing together the beef, pork, poultry and dairy industries remains vitally important so we can collectively own the conversation around protein, and the farmers obligations in producing it.
- TSBE Food Leaders Australia general manager Bruce McConnel