What does a farmer look like? Changing the perception of Aussie farmers.

Two women from Eugowra in central-west New South Wales are receiving a lot of interest on social media for their project: What does a farmer look like?

They’ve started a year-long campaign to recreate Australians’ perceptions of farmers and agriculture.

Project founder Kim Storey said she was spurred into action after typing the phrase into Google.

“So I just typed into Google exactly that — What does a farmer look like?” she said.

“The results were of old men with beards and checked shirts, bib and brace overalls, holding a pitchfork.

“For anyone not involved in agriculture, if they do a search to try and get an idea of what farming is about, the perception is totally unrealistic.”

Over the next 12 months, Kim Storey and her graphic designer friend, Cassie Gates want to travel Australia photographing and interviewing farmers from all agricultural industries and put their stories into a hardcover book.

“We have done that so that we can hopefully get around to everybody and get shots while everyone is harvesting,” Ms Storey said.

“At the moment we are focusing on stone fruit and cherries to be followed by grain harvest and so on.”

They have also started building a community on Facebook and Instagram so farmers could recommend themselves or other farmers as subjects.

“We’ve only just put it out there in the last two weeks and the interest has been huge,” Ms Storey said.

not-all-farmers-are-wearing-checked-shirts-and-overalls

Ms Storey has always been involved in agriculture in some way. She grew up on a fine wool property near Bathurst in central-west New South Wales, went to University at Orange Agricultural College, and worked for Elders for 12 years.

But her other passion is photography.

“I have wanted to do a photographic book for a while so this is the perfect project because I am fulfilling that desire as well as getting the truth about what farmers really do out there,” she said.

Her partner Cassie Gates, was born and bred in Eugowra, where she returned home to after pursuing graphic design studies in Sydney.

“We want to make it a happy book celebrating all those great things about the land.

“I don’t come from a farming background, so I am interested to see what everyone is doing and educate my children as well that you don’t have to be of a certain stereotype to be farmer.”

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Agriculture worth half a billion dollars to Tablelands

Agriculture contributed more than half a billion dollars to the economy of the Tablelands in far north Queensland in 2015, a new agriculture profile has revealed.

The profile puts the combined value of the region’s 42 large agricultural industries at $552 million.

Agriculture has posted a 30 per cent increase in value over the last four years, despite the impact of prolonged drought in some parts of the region.

Agriculture Minister Leanne Donaldson said the impressive growth demonstrated the strength of the local industry and its importance to the Tablelands.

 Matt and Jess Fealy, Blue Sky Produce, Mareeba, are among the large number of avocado growers who make up the industry which contributed $83 million to the region's economy in 2015.

Matt and Jess Fealy, Blue Sky Produce, Mareeba, are among the large number of avocado growers who make up the industry which contributed $83 million to the region’s economy in 2015.

Ms Donaldson used a recent trade mission overseas to promote the region’s produce.

“While recently on a trade mission to Jakarta, Hong Kong and Beijing I was able to meet directly with industry and government officials and to profile Queensland produce to industry leaders, Asian importers and distributors,” Ms Donaldson said.

Dr Geoff Dickinson, a Mareeba-based senior horticulturist with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), said the department had just updated the region’s agriculture profile for the first time since 2011.

“The banana industry is the most valuable to the Tablelands, worth $91 million,” Mr Dickinson said.

“Avocado is second with a value of $83 million. Other notable industries are mango ($52 million), sugar cane ($39 million), beef cattle ($35 million), dairy cattle ($34 million) and poultry ($30 million), he said.

Blueberries, a new agricultural industry on the Tablelands, are now worth $11 million. Sweet potatoes, an old industry making a comeback are now worth $5 million.

Both these industries are highly labour intensive and have brought many new seasonal jobs to the region, Dr Dickinson said.

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Poppy project set to bloom and boom for NSW agriculture?

POPPY processor TPI Enterprises says planting in NSW could begin as early as April if legislation passes parliament as expected.

But farmer representatives say the company’s five-year, 5000-hectare poppy vision for NSW will be a slow burn – rather than an immediate boost – for the state’s $12 billion agriculture sector.

TPI Enterprises chief executive Jarrod Ritchie says he wants 5000 hectares of poppies growing in NSW in the next five years. TPI is one of three processors in Australia who can licence farmers to grow poppies. Photo by Scott Gelston.

TPI Enterprises chief executive Jarrod Ritchie says he wants 5000 hectares of poppies growing in NSW in the next five years. TPI is one of three processors in Australia who can licence farmers to grow poppies. Photo by Scott Gelston.

NSW is set to pass laws that would see it join Tasmania, Victoria and the Northern Territory as legal producers of alkaloid poppies. South Australia is expected to follow suit.

Until 2014 Tasmania enjoyed a 40-year poppy monopoly, and, despite sagging under current market conditions, still produces 80 per cent of the world’s raw narcotic product for various medicines.

On the right land alkaloid poppies can produce about $10,000 of raw material per hectare.

TPI chief executive Jarrod Ritchie said expanding into SA and NSW would help the company double its capacity to about 15,000 hectares, with NSW earmarked for about 5000 hectares within three to five years.

Mr Ritchie said the average yield of narcotic raw product from Australian alkaloid poppies was 15 kilograms per hectare. More productive land can produce closer to 60kg, with the raw materials fetching between $150 to $200/kg.

“If you’ve got experience with cropping, you’ll be fine,” Mr Ritchie said. “Particularly the rice and cotton growers.”

NSW Farmers Justin Crosby said the success of poppies would depend on processors’ ability to identify the right growers.

“The good thing is that we’ve got the opportunity to build up as the world’s demand for medicine continues,” Mr Crosby said.

“It just needs a secure and stable supply chain to be put in place.”

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RDF to create more than $900m in economic activity this year

sundrop farm1The State Government’s Regional Development Fund will result in a $933 million contribution to the South Australian economy this year and create 416 ongoing jobs, a report released yesterday says.

The government, commissioned from Ernst & Young by the Government, says the $33 million in contestable grants awarded in rounds one and two of the grants program, which started in 2014, will result in a direct impact of $426 million in output this year and $507 million in indirect output.

Over the next seven years the impact was estimated at $5.6 billion, however this figure is based on the assumption that there are no changes to the structure of the economy.

Projects supported by the program include $6 million for Sundrops Farms’ 200,000sq/m greenhouse project at Port Augusta which harnesses solar power to grow tomatoes, and $2.5 million for a $25.4 million beef boning facility developed by Thomas Foods International.

“The impacts of the RDF reach far across South Australia, with direct and indirect job creation, increased economic activity, and greater investment bringing confidence and growth to local communities,’’ Mr Brock said.

“The State Government is committed to building stronger regions because we know they are the drivers of our future economic growth, contributing to every priority in the State’s Economic Plan.’’

Applications for Round 3 of the RDF are currently being assessed. To read more click here.

The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress will be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016 to register for the conference CLICK HERE.

The conference explores opportunities for innovation in regional Australia. With its rich resources, diversity, and value, regional Australia is the catalyst for the future.

Addressing issues such as sustainable development, environmental sustainability, land use, community development, investment, agribusiness and innovation it is an opportunity not to be missed.

Speaker opportunity

There is still an opportunity to speak at the Conference.  If you would like to speak at the Conference you are invited to submit a 300 word abstract speaking within regional development on attracting business success, employment, infrastructure, health aged care and more.

CLICK HERE to submit an abstract. Abstracts close 9th June 2016.

Synergies for regional development and agriculture

regional development Fiona nashNewly appointed Regional Development, Health and Communications Minister Fiona Nash says she won’t forget her agricultural roots after a major promotion in last week’s ministry reshuffle and is excited about the opportunity to work not only in rural health but also in regional development.

In a recent interview Minister Fiona Nash says “I don’t see that I’ll ever stop being a champion for agriculture; particularly around the new area of regional development,” she said.

“I believe there are some real synergies between regional development and agriculture, as indeed there is in communications.

Senator Nash said she was “very humbled” to be chosen by her party colleagues to be National Party deputy leader and the first female leader in its 95-year history.

To read the article in full CLICK HERE.