Above: The local seafood industry continues to offer a premium product from professional fisherman like Troy Billen.
The Clarence Valley marked Australia’s first ‘National Ag Day’ on Tuesday with the launch of an online rural industry survey and a forum to be staged in December.
Both events have been co-ordinated by Clarence Valley Community and Industry Advocate Debrah Novak and North Coast NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Manager, Bill Quince.
Both events are aimed at engaging a broad cross section of the rural community to open up a dialogue with those who are already involved or wanting to be involved in the primary industries sector in the Clarence Valley.
Ms Novak said “we couldn’t let the ‘National Ag Day’ go by without doing something special to mark the occasion. The Clarence Valley has had a long tradition of significant rural and agriculture contribution, something we here in the valley should feel very proud of.
Our local primary industry folk have led the way on a number of occassions with innovative practices.
The tyranny of distance saw Ramornie Station establish Australia’s first cannery to export beef to soldiers on the frontline in WW1 while our commercial fisherman developed by catch nets to enable sustainable fishing practices.
Our equine industry has bred thousands of war and stock horses and race winners including the first name that appears on the Sydney Gold Cup.
Our modern rural success is linked to Yulgilbar Station and their famous Santa Gertrudis and Quarter Horse Studs while our famous fishing fleet, prawns and oysters are second to none on the east coast of Australia.
We have a long list of amazing award winning primary producers, Australia’s largest Macadamia farm and the blueberry industry is about to take hold”.
Ms Novak said the Clarence Valley is at a major economic crossroad where decisions and plans must be made now to ensure the long term employment and business options as cemented as we transition in to Industry 4, the digital age.
“We shouldn’t rely on the government or council to chart our economic path and we mustn’t just rely on the prison economy to see us through when the new Pacific Highway bypasses Grafton in three years time.
Tourism Australia no longer singles out golden sandy beaches as the must do activity of a region with data now telling us visitors to Australia are now seeking out quality, authentic experiences involving food.
Last week I was the compere for the Coffs Coast Food Forum where their key note speaker, Tourism Australia’s Lyndey Milan pointed out what makes a region unique is not its beaches but its food experience. That authentic sort after experience comes through our cafes, farms, events, workshops and retail outlets.” Ms Novak said.
One of the North Coast venues at the forefront of innovation for the past century has been the Grafton Primary Industries Institute at Trenyar.
Mr Quince said “The (DPI) at Trenyar is responsible for the development of agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and works to develop and sustain diverse, profitable food and fibre industries while at the same time ensuring best practice management of natural resources”.
Alongside our producers and growers are also the researchers and the Grafton Primary Industries Institute has long been involved in many innovations since it began in 1902.
While specialising in soybean, the NSW North Coast is the single largest soybean production area in Australia with the soybean research program at Grafton being of particular importance on a regional and national level”.
Both Ms Novak and Mr Quince are hoping the farming and wider community get behind the online survey and industry forum. They will be using the hashtag #clarencevalleyfood from Tuesday if anyone wants to start showcasing what they grow, manufacture and produce.
Ms Novak said “what I would like to come away with from the survey and forum is support to establish a Clarence Valley Food Co-Operative, a peak industry body that can also develop an iconic Clarence Valley food brand, research and development ideas around innovation and native foods and a strategy that will enable producers from the Clarence Valley to make a collective competitive bid to be the complete supply chain solution for all the food needs of the New Grafton Gaol when it opens in 3 years time”.
The Clarence Valley Rural Industry forum will be staged at the Grafton Ag Station at Trenyar, Monday 11th December 10-3pm.
Bookings or Enquiries Debrah Novak M: 0402 404 606 E: [email protected]