QUESTIONS: Emerald Cotton Growers Association President Emma McCullagh (left) and Cotton Australia Regional Manager Renee Anderson (right) with Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce at the Emerald Agricultural College.
QUESTIONS: Emerald Cotton Growers Association President Emma McCullagh (left) and Cotton Australia Regional Manager Renee Anderson (right) with Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce at the Emerald Agricultural College. Kelly Butterworth

Barnaby Joyce visits Emerald

BARNABY Joyce has made waves in Emerald after only being in the town for less than four hours.

The Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources first stopped at the Emerald Agricultural College, where he was quizzed on plans to lower costs for rural and remote students to attend the college while their parents struggle with drought, and also about plans to improve water infrastructure in the region. 

Mr Joyce, who was joined by Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd, then continued out to 2PH Farms. 

There, he discussed at length the proposed meatworks and inland ports with Mayor Peter Maguire and CHRC CEO Scott Mason.

Below are some of the big hits discussed on his visit:

>> Price of electricity

2PH Farms' Craig Pressler: The electricity cost is killing you. It doesn't matter what price the water is, it's arbitrary - if you can't afford to pump it - it doesn't matter if you pay $10 per mega litre or $100 per mega litre, the pumping cost has to come into it and that has to be looked at. The cost of water for us ranks about 26th in order of costs, its right down the bottom. Labour, transport, cartons, chemicals, electricity. Electricity is number five. 

>> Water prices

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce: The best way to reduce prices is to increase supply. So you're always looking at ways to do that. It's not going to cure every water problem in every area, every part of Australia that I go to the issue is the price of water. It's the ultimate article which grows the cotton, it grows the citrus, it's used for cattle, it's to top your soil - do all the things that you need to do to get it to market. It's essential for coal mining - you can't wash down coal without it obviously. 

>> Next big CQ project

Mr Joyce: The big thing that we are doing at the moment is developing markets. Everything starts with a better return at the farm gate, to help get cattle prices up, to stand behind sheep prices, cotton prices, citrus prices - you do that by opening the market. Free trade agreements, live export markets. The next step is your beef development roads which we've put $100 million towards. Infrastructure funds. Just continual re-investment back on the land. That encourages people to bring their sons and daughters back home to the land.

>> Barnaby on Emerald

Mr Joyce: It's great to see people engaged in the industry. There's a lot more money now being invested in these areas. One of those primary areas for investment now is of course education. It's great to be back in Emerald, I used to live here - it's not as if I'm a stranger to the place, I wish we'd had more rain.


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