Producers and representatives from beef, pork, poultry and dairy industries gathered in Dalby to discuss the advantages and opportunities of southern Queensland's protein industries.
Hosted by TSBE Food Leaders Australia, the fourth annual intensive animal conference examined the current outlook for industry in the Western Downs and discussed the industry through various lenses: sustainability through COVID and carbon neutrality targets, monetising waste and the future of agtech.
Food Leaders Australia general manager Bruce McConnel said southern Queensland, and specifically the Western Downs, afforded many opportunities to intensive animal industries with continued strong investment in industry.
"The Western Downs and Darling Downs are absolutely key to Australia's protein industry. Particularly the high value protein that comes out of the intensive animal sector," he said.
Eighty per cent of Australia's eggs, 65pc of Australia's pork, 60pc lot fed cattle and 65pc of all red meat processing are within two hours of the Western Downs. Mr McConnel said it was the region's location and access to high quality grain that made the region a key player to the protein sector.
"The reason it's here is because of feedstock, particularly for beef cattle," he said.
"Grain, freight costs and the proximity to ports makes the region a truly unique spot for the intensive animal protein sector."
More than 100 people took part in the conference. Mr McConnel said collaboration and interaction was a priority.
"Seeing everyone involved in the conversation is exciting, and the links that they make today by networking will only further strengthen the value for the protein sector."
Event-goers were temperature checked and asked to social distance as part of registration. Mr McConnel said that COVID protocol was key to keeping the community safe and flagged that the pandemic has offered new opportunity to the region.
"People are still desperate to network and do business and we're proud that we can put on these events that are COVID safe and help people grow their business," he said.
"There's a real strength for face to face interaction in regional Australia. We can be confident with COVID not affecting our communities. We have people who can all travel from all over the country and meet here while under COVID protocols."
Western Downs Mayor Paul McVeigh was unable to attend the conference but appeared in a pre-recorded introduction to address the conference.
"Intensive ag is one of the region's four pillars of the economy and continues to contribute and consume production to our agricultural sector," Cr McVeigh said.
"Over 40pc of Australia's feedlot capacity is located within 200 kilometres of Dalby and that's absolutely incredible.
"The region has everything needed for success in intensive agriculture."