There is scope in the Southern Downs for investment in specialised horticulture cropping activities for targeted and niche markets. In addition, a number of experienced producers of fruit and vegetables have established businessesin the regionto diversify and complement their existing operations in other horticulture areas, capitalising on the Southern Downs’ climate and extending their growing season. Opportunities also exist for specialised broadacre cropping, particularly with higher value crops on quality soil types.
There are already plans and approvals in place for the chicken meat sector to expand production in the regionand there are further opportunities for more poultry operations. Southern Downs is a favoured location, as it meets the industry requirement of being within two hours of large scale processing establishments located in or near the major urban centres of south-east Queensland.
Beef feedlotting is strong in the Southern Downs and neighbouring regions and a trend in the industry is for feedlots to access cattle that have been delivered from backgrounding operations. Backgrounding is where cattle are grown out on pasture or fodder crops to a weight and size suitable for entry into feedlots. The practice is generally based on contractual arrangements between graziers and feedlots.
Primary producers in the Southern Downs are renowned for their capacity to produce a differentiated product, setting themselves apart from mainstream commodity based agriculture. There is a current trend for markets to fragment, and producers are responding to the opportunities presented by an increasing array of niche food markets.