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Emerald farmer receives grant to become Coles’ first grass-fed beef supplier in Queensland

A cattle producer in Central Queensland will be the first in the state to supply locally-grown beef to Coles’ grass-fed GRAZE beef range, with support from a $500,000 Coles Nurture Fund grant.

Second-generation farmer Bill Crowther will use funding from the Coles Nurture Fund to plant 1,215 hectares of resilient tree-legume leucaena at two of his cattle properties near Emerald, increasing the land’s productivity by 20 per cent and enabling increased production of grass-fed beef.

Leucaena has an expected life of around 30 years and is able to draw moisture from deeper down in the soil, so it will allow Bill and his sons to set up a sustainable cattle farming operation and be better prepared for times of drought.

Rather than trying to implement this plan over 10 years, we’ll be able to turbo-charge our operation and bring it down to two years.
Bill Crowther, cattle producer in Central Queensland

Since his parents started farming in 1965, Bill and his wife Anne have grown the business into a cropping and cattle operation across three cattle properties in Emerald and the Arcadia Valley and are now joined by their sons, Matthew, John, Harry and their families.

The Crowther family has supplied beef directly to Coles for the butcher range since 2010 and the Nurture Fund project will enable them to become the first Queensland cattle producer to supply Coles’ grass-fed beef program GRAZE.

“Rather than trying to implement this plan over 10 years, we’ll be able to turbo-charge our operation and bring it down to two years. This innovation will help us to have grass-fed cattle ready for market annually between January through to October from 2018,” Bill said.

“By incorporating leucaena with quality grass and oats with our selectively-bred cattle herd, we will be able to supply these cattle into the domestic market as hormone-free, grass-fed beef for Coles’ GRAZE range.”

Coles’ 100 per cent grass-fed beef range GRAZE was launched in 2014 and was developed working with a group of eight farmers representing different growing regions in Australia.

Coles developed its grass-fed beef range as our customers told us they love the taste and the way it is grown.
John Durkan, Managing Director, Coles

Coles Managing Director John Durkan said the Nurture Fund would help the Crowther family business to grow sustainably in the future.

“This project will provide sustainability and productivity benefits for the Crowther family business well into the future, so we’re thrilled to get behind it with support from the Nurture Fund,” he said.

“Coles developed its grass-fed beef range as our customers told us they love the taste and the way it is grown. Our customers are also set to benefit from the Crowther’s project, with more GRAZE beef available on supermarket shelves.

In Queensland, Coles is proud to source its butcher beef range from Queensland farmers. The work Coles is doing with the Crowther family to source GRAZE beef in Queensland will also lead the way for developing more GRAZE suppliers in the state.

The Crowthers will start planting leucaena in March and see benefits after around 12 months, when they plan to graze cattle on leucaena for the 2018 season.

“Another benefit of planting leucaena is it goes towards sustaining our herd in a dry time which is a big advantage and it will increase our fattening ability. It also lasts a long time and will help to increase the value of our land,” Bill said.

“We were very excited when we heard the news that we were receiving a $500,000 grant. It gives us a wonderful opportunity and we really appreciate that Coles has this Nurture Fund for small businesses.”

Photo: Jessica Dorey, Rural Weekly - https://www.ruralweekly.com.au/
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