Covering a huge patch in Central QLD as Cotton Australia’s Regional Manager, Renée Anderson can expect to travel anywhere as far north as Belyando covering Clermont and Capella, West to Rolleston and East to the Mackenzie River farmers at the Big Bend.
Renée started in the cotton industry around 16 years ago when she moved from WA while studying Ag Science to Emerald to do the cotton production course. After completing her studies, she went on to work for the Dept of Primary Industries in Entomology with Richard Sequeira and as a trainee agronomist for local cotton consultant Amanda Noone.
These days her qualifications include being an on-farm Agronomist, a registered Cotton BMP farm manager and a myBMP Auditor.
Renée describes her role with Cotton Australia is to actively participate and work with our local Cotton Growers Association, the executives and to co-ordinate workshops with our Cotton Extension Officer at DEEDI Susan Maas, providing growers and our community with policy and advocacy information and education programs.
Ms Anderson says the biggest issue facing cotton growers in Central Queensland remains the threat of mining.
“Coal mining is very quickly encroaching on all of the best farming country in QLD. We have had coal mines here in CQ for at least 25 years, that have worked reasonably well alongside farming however the rapid expansion and the increase of approvals for exploration permits and mining leases on prime agricultural land has gone berserk over the last couple of years.”
“Our other big issue which is related to mining is the lack of staff available in all forms from farmhands, farm managers, agronomists, resellers, etc. Unskilled and skilled labour is very difficult to source in our area due to the huge demand on workforce from mining. The cost of living in CQ is also very expensive -from rental prices, housing availability and the cost of groceries, which makes it difficult for the service industry employees on a normal wage to afford to live in our region.”
The other big challenge for Cotton in Central QLD and a major concern to Renée is biosecurity.
“CQ has currently already had three exotic incursions two of those are insects in cotton and the very devastating and expensive citrus canker. A farm was once an isolated place where vehicles that came on and off the farm either belonged to the farmer or the agronomist. Now we have lots of vehicles, machinery, contractors and even drilling rigs that travel all over the farms. Good Farm Hygiene is a very important part of what farmers do, and need to ensure it is practiced every day with everyone coming on farm.”