New round of Rural Economic Development Grants to open soon
22 September 2021
A new round of Rural Economic Development grants will drive investment and jobs growth in regional areas across Queensland in a boost for Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said applications for grants up to $200,000 would open in the coming weeks, with $3.3 million earmarked for this financial year.
“Since 2018 this initiative has helped to strengthen the agricultural sector and created more than 1800 jobs in rural and regional areas with co-contribution grants for new equipment and infrastructure.
“With this new funding providing grants of up to $200,000 the program will have outlaid $16.6M over five years to stimulate jobs growth and expand agricultural supply chains in the regions.
“These RED grants are a genuine success story. In 2020-21, we awarded $3.14 million in grants to 15 regional agricultural businesses, which is expected to create approximately 90 jobs during construction, 251 jobs after completion, and almost 350 indirect jobs.
“Successful applicants covering a range of agricultural industries including vegetables, tree crops, bananas, sugar, and meat processing are located statewide in the Lockyer Valley, Southern Downs, Toowoomba, Goondiwindi, Bundaberg, Cassowary Coast, Cairns, Mareeba, and the Tablelands.
“Since its inception, the RED program has provided $10 million in funding to 43 regional agribusiness projects and is estimated to have created almost 1900 new direct and indirect jobs over the lifetime of these projects.”
Janelle Gerry, director of FarmFresh Fine Foods in the Bundaberg region, said a Rural Economic Development Grant had helped to fund improvements to its fruit and vegetable processing operations.
“It’s enabled us to pivot in a time when we were under stress with losing business with airlines,” Ms Gerry said.
“The grant has been able to give us funding for equipment for a new line which has been able to produce fried vegetable products fresh from our local region so we’re very grateful for the assistance from the program.”
Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders said creating jobs was at the heart of the Palaszczuk Government’s mission.
“Our Government has a great track record on creating jobs in the Maryborough and Wide Bay region, and it is good news to hear that the RED grants program will be back again to create more agricultural jobs,” Mr Saunders said.
“We are backing our farmers to succeed and we are supporting jobs because it’s in our DNA to do that.”
Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith said the Rural Economic Development Grants had supported a jobs boost in the Bundaberg region.
“These grants create jobs in partnership with agricultural businesses, and that’s great news for our community,” Mr Smith said.
“I hope more Bundaberg agriculture businesses put their hands up when the next round of grants opens.
“Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan is important for jobs in Bundaberg and these grants contribute to jobs while helping businesses to expand.”
John and Kerry Pool operate a multifaceted growing, manufacturing and cellar door business called Lychee Divine just south of Maryborough.
“As the only lychee manufacturer in Australia we’ve outgrown the current facility that produces our award-winning lychee product range,” Kerry Pool said.
“Due to the rapid growth in the cellar door we would welcome this kind of grant to help us achieve the expansion of the winery required for the increasing demand of our unique lychee range.”
Mr Furner said the application opening date would be set shortly, with successful projects to be announced in 2022.
“These grants will again be administered by the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority, which has decades of experience in helping Queensland agriculture to thrive,” Mr Furner said.
“Agriculture remains an essential industry in Queensland and a vital part of Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.
“Feedback from industry on these grants has been very positive. That’s why I am excited to be able to announce that these grants will be open for applications soon.”