I am always proud to be part of this community. That pride has been further cemented recently as Councillors and senior staff toured some of the region’s largest and newest businesses.
I have been reminded of the amazing innovation that comes from our region; of the huge quantities of fruit, vegetables, nuts and grain grown here; and of the exciting future we have in new industries.
At Chislett Farms at Kenley, they founded the new M7 orange variety, the world’s earliest maturing naval orange that is now being developed in many citrus growing countries around the world.
At Beverford, the family-run Scotties Point Farm grows broccoli, beetroot and onions under a professional business model that is setting them up for a strong future.
And at Bannerton, a new solar park will soon be built amongst an almond orchard, with the aim of producing enough clean energy for 14,000 homes, or 30 large farms.
We visited Australian Pioneer Pistachios, learning more about this rapidly growing nut industry. And we toured Olam Orchards at Robinvale – an ever-expanding enterprise using state of the art irrigation infrastructure and the latest mechanical techniques to grow huge almond crops.
We have also visited three impressive Swan Hill manufacturing businesses – Integra, Polymaster and Grizzly Engineering. They each demonstrated innovation and an ability to adapt to constantly changing market pressures.
And the best part about this? These agricultural and manufacturing businesses are just the tip of the iceberg.
Right across our municipality, businesses are pushing the boundaries, implementing the latest techniques and increasing their outputs. This is great for our region – strong farming and manufacturing sectors are essential for our region to grow and prosper. They pump millions of dollars into our local economy – directly, by employing local people and by attracting others to live and work here.
There’s no doubt there are challenges – water, housing for workers, weather variation, connectivity and market access to name a few.
But these tours were all about our Councillors – many of them relatively new to their roles – learning more about these industries, their successes and these challenges. And it was to find out how we as a Council might help the farming and manufacturing sectors continue playing this vital economic and social role in our community.
I look forward to learning more about some of the horticultural businesses in the southern end of our municipality when we continue our tour on 1 August.