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.

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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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Big flows into Menindee Lakes pushes mothballed farm into life

Preparations are underway to move Tandou Farm out of care-and-maintenance mode and back into crop production.

This comes as large water flows continue to fill the Menindee Lakes in far west New South Wales.

The farm, well-known for growing cotton in the region, was mothballed earlier in the year due to low water levels in the storage system.

Joe Robinson, a director at Webster Limited, said the agribusiness, which owns the outback property, expected further flows from upstream will help secure future crops.

“I think by Christmas the lakes will probably be full,” he said.

“There’s still very big flows in the Darling River and around Bourke so those flows will continue for a couple of months.

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Mr Robinson said pre-planting work would need to commence before seeds went into the ground.

Mr Robinson said it will take close to a year before gossypium will flourish on Menindee soil — until then, some other type of grain will go into the ground.

“Cotton won’t go in till September or October next year as water’s come too late for this year,” he said.

“The first thing that will happen is potentially a winter crop and that’ll depend on water availability.

“We’ve got to determine exactly what sort of configuration we’re going to grow our cotton in and we’ll look at the market opportunities for grain crops.

“Obviously, grain prices are pretty depressed at the moment. What the mix will be we’ll determine over time.

“Some sort of cereal, whether it’s a wheat or barley or a durum, will happen. Historically Tandou’s grown a fair bit of durum wheat, so that is one of the likely possibilities.”

In the meantime, there is work to be done on the farm to clear unwanted weeds from paddocks.

“We’ll do a bit of a clean up and commencing pretty shortly,” Mr Robinson said.

“We’ve allowed weeds to grow on the fields and part of that process was about actually getting some ground cover.

“If you keep things spotless and we get the winds, it’ll blow sand and dust all over the place and you can get drifts, which become pretty hard to deal with when you want to get back into cropping.

“We’ve had record rainfall and some of the weeds have persisted longer than I expected.

“But we’ve got no issue in turning these fields around — that was part of the program and we’ll be ready to roll when we need to be.”

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CBH Group wipes 2 million tonnes off WA’s expected grain harvest

Frost damage is continuing to wipe millions of tonnes off Western Australia’s expected grain harvest.

The state’s main grain handler and marketer the CBH Group has revised its harvest estimate from 15–17 million tonnes down to 13–14 million tonnes.

CBH Group general manager of operations David Capper said feedback from grower meetings and agronomists had pushed the expected tonnes down.

“But in reality, even the sources of information that we’re getting won’t really know what their estimates are going to be, or what their crops are going to be before the header goes in,” he said.

“Growers can only give us the best information that they’ve got based on what they’re seeing in their paddocks. The header will be the deciding factor.”

A harvest of 13–14 million tonnes is still well above the average harvest of 10.2 million tonnes.

“It’s on par with the past couple of years, but unfortunately not the larger crop that we were anticipating earlier in the year,” Mr Capper said.

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He said the frost damage was widespread across the state and as harvest began, frost damage was appearing in areas where it was not anticipated.

He said CBH was introducing new segregations for barley, which was badly affected, and was looking at introducing lower weight segregations for wheat.

“Prices are depressed as it is, and lower quality grain is going to be more so,” Mr Capper said.

“It just makes that challenge of ensuring that we don’t force growers to downgrade grain that doesn’t need to be downgraded by not having the right services available.

Mr Capper said frost was one of the hardest seasonal conditions to deal with.

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Bill to add fair price label to milk in Queensland

Queensland consumers could soon be able to check their bottle of milk to see if the farmer who produced it was paid a fair price.

Katter’s Australian Party MP Shane Knuth has tabled a private members bill in state parliament which would set up a series of region-specific labels to indicate a fair price has been paid.

Mr Knuth says the scheme will make it simple for consumers to support farmers by buying milk which has been paid for at a reasonable rate.

The labelling scheme would be voluntary, but Mr Knuth says he believes people power will see a “domino effect” to get big supermarket chains on board.

Mr Knuth submitted a similar bill to parliament in 2013 under the previous Liberal National Party government, but it was defeated.

He believed public and political sentiment now appeared to be on the side of the farmers.

“Back in 2000 there were 1500 dairy farmers, right at this present moment there is 430,” he said.

“It’s an average of one dairy farmer a week that is leaving the industry.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has stopped short of endorsing the bill.

Ms Palaszczuk says she’ll wait until she reads the proposal before deciding whether to support it.

“At the moment the reality is milk producers in Queensland already have the ability to label their milk,” the Premier said.

“But I’ll have a look at the bill, I don’t really want to make any further comment until I’ve seen the detail of that proposal.”

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