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Growers’ expansion comes to fruition with new packing machine

Oscar and Dwaine Bugno stand in their fruit orchard.Farming is in the blood for Oscar Bugno and his family, who have been farming for more than 50 years on their land 10 kilometres west of Dimbulah in the ‘food bowl’ region of Far North Queensland.

After realising they couldn't keep up with the amount of fruit they were producing, the Bugnos looked into a QRIDA's Sustainability Loan to fund the purchase of a new packing machine to improve the businesses' efficiencies.

Read Oscar and Dwaine's story to find out more. 

More than $276 million administered by QRIDA in 2022-2023

We are proud of the QRIDA team for their dedicated work over the past financial year helping to foster productive and sustainable Queensland regions and rural communities through the delivery of financial assistance.

Over the past 12 months, QRIDA has administered an array of programs supporting different initiatives across the state. From drought mitigation to flood recovery, boosting accessible tourism, to purchasing zero-emission vehicles, QRIDA has approved 9,988 applications for financial assistance totalling more than $276 million.

We’re looking forward to continuing administering financial support for Queenslanders over the next financial year. Make sure you visit our website and socials to find out what we get up to!

RED Grants invest $3.9 million in QLD ag

The fifth round of the Queensland Government’s Rural Economic Development (RED) Grants has given a $3.9 million boost to 24 Queensland agricultural businesses and created up to 215 direct, long-term jobs.

Each of the successful applicants will receive up to $200,000 to complete shovelready projects that stimulate economic and employment growth in Queensland’s agricultural industry.

Activities being funded under this latest round of grants are diverse and range from a meat snacks processing line and livestock supplement manufacturing, to high-tech nursery production and horticultural produce cooling, processing,
and packaging facilities.

Funding for a sixth round of RED Grants has been allocated for the 2023-2024 financial year which will include a focus on supporting Indigenous-owned agribusinesses and projects aimed at low-emissions agriculture. 

Keep an eye on QRIDA’s website and social media channels for details about when the next round of grants will open.

General Manager of Berry North in the Atherton Tablelands, MartinGeneral Manager of Berry North in the Atherton Tablelands, Martin Inderbitzin Inderbitzin (pictured), says the RED Grant his business received under the fourth round of the program to help fund the capital cost of optical grading equipment will boost their business’ efficiencies.

“This technology will not only greatly improve the efficiency of the packing facility function but will translate into improved product output and enable Berry North to expand their berry production,” he said.

QRIDA administers RED Grants on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Program updates

Queensland Zero Emission Vehicle Rebate Scheme

This rebate scheme was updated from 1 July 2023, with rebates of up to $6,000 now being available for eligible applicants who have purchased a new Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV). Eligibility criteria applies. Find out more.

Carbon Farming Advice Scheme

Applications for this scheme, which provides farmers and other landholders with up to $10,000 towards the cost of carbon farming advice received from a Land Restoration Fund Approved Adviser, opened on 17 July 2023. Find out more. 

CQ graziers build farm resilience with drought support

Garrett and Kate KirkAs they install poly pipe at their property in Dingo, west of Rockhampton, graziers Kate and Garrett Kirk (pictured) reflect on the toughest time they’ve experienced in their 20 years of farming.

“The 2019 drought, it was, well the worst drought we’d ever seen,” Garrett said. 

Kate recalled she and Garrett were forced to drastically reduce breeder numbers due to the lack of feed.

“We ended up production-feeding some of our good quality young heifers in a feed lot and we were feeding out a lot of loose licks,” Kate said.

As the Kirks recovered from the drought, they knew it would not be long before the next dry would come, so they contacted QRIDA to find out what financial assistance was available to help build the drought resilience of their farm business.

Read Garrett and Kate Kirk's story. 

Our team in regional Queensland, helping yours

QRIDA has a network of Regional Area Managers (RAMs) based throughout Queensland who can provide you with the latest local knowledge and expertise on our programs and services.

With offices based in Brisbane, Bundaberg, Cloncurry, Emerald (with regular visits to Longreach), Innisfail, Kingaroy, Mackay, Rockhampton, Roma, Toowoomba and Townsville, we’ve got Queensland covered.

In each newsletter we feature an update from three of our RAMs. To find details of your local RAM, contact us on 1800 623 946 or visit the ‘your region’ page on our website where you can search by region or postcode.

John Metelli, Capricornia

Regional Area Manager, John MetelliI’ve been in front of the camera recently, taking part in QRIDA’s client story with Central Queensland graziers Kate and Garrett Kirk, as featured on page 3 of this edition. It was inspiring to see how these once drought-affected primary producers are getting on the front-foot to mitigate the impacts of the next dry. 

With much of the Capricornia region experiencing a reprieve from drought conditions, now is the perfect time for primary producers to prepare a Farm Business Resilience Plan and use our grants and loans to undertake on-farm improvements to enhance the drought preparedness of their property.

I’ve also been busy hitting the road and holding pop-up offices around the region to meet one-on-one with primary producers to discuss how QRIDA’s First Start Loans, Sustainability Loans, and drought assistance programs could help them take their operation to the next level. Would you like me to hold a pop-up office in your town or visit you on-farm?

Give me a call and we can arrange a meeting.

Tegan McBride, Central Coast & Whitsundays

Regional Area Manager, Tegan McBrideI’m pleased to share that the Carbon Farming Advice Scheme is now open for applications on QRIDA’s website. This scheme provides primary producers and other landholders with up to $10,000 towards the costs of carbon farming advice received from a Land Restoration Fund Approved Adviser.

Carbon farming provides an opportunity for farmers to diversify their income through improving their land management practices. In turn, this can improve both productivity and environmental outcomes for producers. 

Carbon farming can be complex though so it’s important to get expert advice on how it could work for you. 

Applications for this assistance close on 17 December 2023, unless funds are fully allocated before this date. So if you’re interested in learning more about the grant, now’s the time contact me or visit QRIDA’s website for more information.

If you’d like to arrange a time to meet on-farm about this or other assistance from QRIDA please give me a call.

Sam Fryer, North West & Gulf

Regional Area Manager, Sam FryerG’day, I’m your new Regional Area Manager for the North West and Gulf covering Hughenden, Cloncurry, Winton, the Gulf, Mt Isa and everywhere in between.

I bring to QRIDA a wealth of knowledge of Australia’s beef industries including experience in the Gulf of Australia, Northern Territory and Southern Queensland. 

Growing up on a family cattle property in North Queensland I understand the region’s adversities, seasons and conditions. 

In my new role as Regional Area Manager, I’m looking forward to engaging with producers and helping them develop and improve their
primary production business with the range of financial assistance available through QRIDA. 

If you’d like to know about any of QRIDA’s grants and loans, get in touch with me. We can chat over the phone or arrange a time for me to visit you on-farm to discuss your business needs.


Missed out on a previous copy of Prime Focus? Read past editions here:


Autumn 2023 (PDF, 1,406KB) | Summer 2023 (PDF, 654KB)


Spring 2022 (PDF, 618KB) | Winter 2022 (PDF, 708 KB) | Autumn 2022 (PDF, 577 KB) | Summer 2022 (PDF, 537 KB)


Spring 2021 (PDF. 655 KB)  | Winter 2021 (PDF, 626KB) | Autumn 2021 (PDF, 602KB) | 


November 2020 (PDF, 665KB) | May 2020 (PDF, 561KB)


December 2019 (PDF, 602KB) | July 2019 (PDF, 623KB) | March 2019 (PDF, 619KB)

Primary producer Business Non-profit organisation Individual

Last updated: 23 August 2023