UNDERAPPRECIATED: Killarney dairy farmer Jim Watts wants Queensland to support its ag backbone during this pandemic.
UNDERAPPRECIATED: Killarney dairy farmer Jim Watts wants Queensland to support its ag backbone during this pandemic.

Farmers ‘capable’ of keeping state afloat in lockdown

IN A time when Southern Downs farmers are calling for easing border restrictions, one dairy producer has asked Queensland to support its own agricultural industry instead of seeking out interstate produce.

Killarney farmer Jim Watts said growing concern about lingering community transmission should be prompting state officials to close borders completely.

"We don't want to become like New Zealand who went 102 days without cases only to have one case suddenly pop up," he said.

"Just recently, we had the Japanese woman come down with coronavirus after being isolated, so obviously it takes more than two weeks to show symptoms.

"Even with the borders shut, we should be letting nothing in and nothing out."

While a radical suggestion, Mr Watts believed Queensland farmers could support their own state if they were supported in turn.

"I honestly think Australia is pretty well spoiled with all this other food which is unnecessary in the first place, he said.

"But if we went back to the general basics of food like milk, fruit, veggies, Queensland would be quite capable of looking after itself."

Mr Watts said the pandemic, more than anything, had lifted the curtain on how under-appreciated and overworked farmers were.

"We don't get paid for what we do - and we haven't been for the last 30 to 40 years … but Covid is not helping any farmer or business in any way," he said.

"Farmers have been the backbone in keeping Australia alive."

It was a sentiment strongly backed by growing agricultural lobbies, such as AgForce's

Stand With Regional Queensland initiative.

In May, AgForce proposed a COVID-19 Economic Stimulus for Agriculture and Regional Queensland package, stating government on all levels could no longer overlook the importance of the industry.

"Of most relevance to our thinking is the undeniable fact that COVID-19 has highlighted to the broader Australian public the important position agriculture holds in our community - the need for high-quality, high-yield food and fibre to keep us going, now and into the future," the statement read.

"That's why this is the perfect time to reinforce to governments the integral role regional communities and regionally based industries, as well as Queensland's extensive natural resources and grazing land play in our lives."



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