MAYOR'S MESSAGE: Room for more agricultural enterprises
AGRICULTURE is a very important segment of the Fraser Coast economy, and one which has great potential for growth.
The ABS labour force statistics from November 2016 show there were 11,500 people directly employed in agriculture across the Wide Bay which is 20.68 per cent of the state's workforce engaged in primary production.
The next biggest region is the Fitzroy, with 13.31 per cent of the state's primary production workforce.
The growth in the number of people employed in agriculture across the Wide Bay Burnett from November 2015 to November 2016 is also impressive - up 1,500 people.
When people start talking about job creation there is a tendency to overlook agriculture and focus on attracting a big manufacturing plant.
I take a different view and think about how many jobs could be created by attracting a number of smaller processing plants - especially green, environmentally sustainable jobs.
There are success stories in the region such as Lychee Divine: a small family-owned farm that picks its own crop; produces a range of award-winning liquors and products and sells them from their own shop on the Bruce Highway at the entrance to Maryborough.
Imagine if there were 100 similar companies across the region growing, processing, selling locally and exporting products.
There is room for many more similar enterprises; as well as the expansion of the sugar industry and expansion into biofuels.
That is why Council has been lobbying state and federal governments, especially now during the state election campaign, about opening up the unallocated state land between Maryborough and Torbanlea for agriculture.
We've also taken the opportunity to talk to aspiring candidates about long-term water security as we work to Build Better Communities.