Week One Day Three Sees the Art judge travel to the Burdekin

Day 3 of Week One of the 2014 Archibull Prize official judging tour saw art judge Wendy Taylor fly to Townsville and cross the crocodile infested Burdekin Rive to visit Charters Towers and judge the cotton themed masterpieces created by All Souls St Gabriels and Cloncurry State School

Check out the students artworks and see what Wendy has to say

All Souls St Gabriels Charters Towers 

“Cotton Eyed Josie” is all bull.

A mechanabull, a technologibull, a sustainabull and a recyclabull. This is a cow that has taken to the air, to tell a story of cotton. The unique story is told through stylised patterns and vibrant colour, all anchored in the cotton industry. Her aerial viewpoint intrigues, while at the same time she is anchored to the earth and the industry which inspired her.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The students at All Souls would also like to share with you some of their special highlights from their journey

Women of the World - QRRRWN – Jane Milburn

Students involved: senior female students

 Martin’s Documentary 

Students involved: 9/10 Arts (Music and Media)

Cotton By the Numbers

Students involved: 10 advanced Maths

Me, Myself and Cotton

Students involved: Chloe Campbell

Reporting on sustainability of irrigation and genetics of cotton

Students involved: 11 AgHort


Students involved: 8 Health

Power Point Presentations - Growth Cycle and Genetics

Students involved: 10 Science

Cloncurry State School is a further seven hours drive down the road from Charters Towers and we send them our heart felt appreciation for bringing their cow to All Souls where it is proudly on display in the front foyer of the school

Cloncurry State School

“ISAbella” quite literally tells the viewer a story.

The story of cotton is shouted through facts about the industry drawn on denim patches and through the gorgeous myth about the farmer and the nymph. A picture is clearly painted through text, to showcase the industry and to highlight its sustainability features.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Archibull Prize Judging Tour goes to the Atherton Tablelands

The Archibull Prize judging tour Week 1 Day 2 saw our well-travelled judge Wendy Taylor fly from Sydney to Cairns and drive to the Tablelands Regional Gallery to see the masterpieces created by the four schools participating in far north Queensland

This is what Wendy had to say about the bovine artworks produced by the four schools in the region

Atherton State High School

“Cornealus”, not surprisingly, is all about Corn.

A grain industry story is told, while nestling beneath the recognisable skyline of the Atherton Tablelands. The striking contrast of the black and white Holstein base being overtaken by twining corn stalks grabs attention. Their love of their local community is obvious, as is their connection to the maize industry.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can hear the song they wrote for the competition here

You can read their blog here

Mareeba State High School

“Savannah” definitely hails from the remote gulf areas of Australia. Her flat desert browns are beautifully balanced by the soft hints of colour on her landscape. She depicts the beef industry from dawn to dusk, showcasing the people involved in it, as well as the animals. The fascinating techniques used create a subtle and beautiful effect, which perfectly complements the colour palette.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can read their blog here

Malanda State High School

This beef “Patty” has definitely gone green.

Sustainability in the beef industry is the theme for Patty and it shows. She has pasture grasses growing out of her back, and trees growing from her horns. She is textural and informative. Not many beef Patties make you want to touch them, but this beef Patty definitely does.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

See the students Archibull journey here

Ravenshoe State School

This is one “A-maizing” Cow.

The ‘yellow brick road’ made from corn, is the hero. The time and care taken for this one element are astonishing. It weaves around her, taking the viewer on a journey through the Grains industry from the paddock to the pub (and the bake’rye’ and ‘corn’er shop). In this case, all roads don’t lead to Rome; they either lead to or from the silo.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Archibull Prize Art Judge Tour Takes Off

The quest for the winning Archie has begun in schools across Australia’s eastern states, with the 2014 Archibull Prize judging tour hitting the road this week.

Archibull art judge Wendy Taylor will travel more than 6000km during the next four weeks, visiting 40 participating schools across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

Thousands of primary and secondary students have spent the past two terms creating extraordinary and inspired original artworks on life-size, fiberglass cows through the Archibull Prize competition.

Wendy has been part of the Archibull Prize judging team since its inception and says the level of effort, collaboration and excitement from this year’s students is phenomenal and the Archies are some of the best yet.

“It is going to be a very tough job deciding who will take out the title of Grand Champion,” Wendy says. “Not only are the Archie artworks remarkable, but the ideas and inspiration behind them blow me away.”

Wendy Taylor is an architect and designer who, alongside her architect husband Craig, established red blue architecture + design. The couple has designed the Central District Exhibit at the Sydney Royal Easter Show for 23 years – taking out multiple awards during this time.

Week 1 saw Wendy visiting Queensland and visit Queensland she did

Day 1 looked like this Sydney to Moree to Goondiwindi to Moree to Sydney but boy was it worth it.


This is what Wendy had to say about the three bovine materpieces she saw on the 1st day of judging

First up was Goondiwindi State High School

“St Francesca” (the Holey Cow) has her head in the clouds and cotton on the brain.

She is clever and sophisticated, and encapsulates the essence of the cotton industry beautifully. Her ‘irrigation wings’ add an extra layer of intricacy and complexity, as well as a wonderful sculptural quality. Her concept -which appears deceptively simple at first glance- is the star. There is layer after layer of meaning, which forms a cohesive whole.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Check out this great little video which shares the students and their Holey Cow’s journey

Next up was Goondiwindi State School

“Archy Boll” tells both the story of the cotton process from growing to gin as well as the story from plant to product. Both sides are vibrant and tactile and are instantly appealing. Her dazzling yellow side is the stand-out for me with its delicate pictograms and tactile jeans!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And then St George State High School pulled out all stops to deliver their magnificent Archie in style

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“IPM” makes your skin feel like it is crawling with bugs!

She gives the viewer a wonderful pictorial story of the school’s local area, while telling the story of sustainability in the cotton industry. The Balonne River wraps around her, giving the viewer a guided tour of the community. All over her, ladybugs weave their magic, leaving trails of fact about the cotton industry. She is intricate, clever, vibrant and fun.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Follow the students journey on their blog here

Wow what a great start You can see why Wendy is so excited

Stepping into a career in agriculture. Lets firstly dispel the myths

One of the constants that crop up whenever I attend an industry event and the participants are asked what they believe are the biggest issues in agriculture we should address,invariably concerns over aging farmer populations and the problem of attracting young people to the agrifood and fibre sector are at the top of the list.

There are a few serious misconceptions we need to address first

Firstly Myth 1 Agriculture’s much touted ‘Aging Farmer Population’ problem

There are a number of great articles that put our so-called aging farmer population into perspective

  1. Mick Keogh in The Myth of the Aging Farmer and well explained by Beef Central here

In the flood of recent economic analysis detailing the opportunities that the Asian Century will provide for Australian agriculture, one common issue identified as a potential limiting factor has been the average age of Australian farmers.

The major problem with this analysis is that by comparing the age of farmers with the average age of all other workers, a very distorted picture emerges of farmers.

2.  Neil Lane in ‘Myths and Legends – Dairy farmer average age’ See  here

What the statistics don’t show is the portion of decision making that the owner of the business shares with the next generation – be they family, worker, manager, or sharefarmer. If for example the decision making on a farm is shared  between a 60 year old and a 30 year old then it could be argued that the average age of the farmers is 45 years old.

3.  Neil Barr in ‘Where are all the young farmers’ Report prepared for RIRDC. The summary can be downloaded here.

Neil in fact discovered that Australia has a competitively young agriculture workforce

Secondly Myth 2 The mindset that thinks you have to own the farm to farm the farm.

I recently had a conversation with current chair of the NSW Farmers Young Farmers Council about their initiative to set up a Young Farmer Finance package See here

Minister Hodgkinsons reply was

I am committed to establishing some kind of a finance scheme for young farmers, but only if it is sustainable and cost-effective.

Whilst I salute the passion and the team behind this concept as a wise person once told me “politics is the art of the possible” and we must get realistic in agriculture.  Why should should the government fund young farmers to buy million dollar businesses (especially in a sector as volatile as ours) over any other young person in the community wanting to own their own  business.?

So if you don’t have to own the farm to farm the farm. How do you get into agriculture?

In the first instance we have to be clever and innovative about how we market the agrifood and fibre sector to potential entrants.

A great web based tool is Career Harvest which promotes a career in the food and fibre industry in this manner

We spend over a quarter of our lives at work. So why not make sure your career is one that’s innovative, inspiring and drives your passions globally?

Career Harvest is a hub for the most cutting-edge careers within the food and fibre industries. Whether you’re interested in feeding the world, adapting to climate change, developing the environment or managing future energy sources, this site helps create clearer pathways for you to harvest your agricultural career.

Choose a career that ignites leadership. Choose a career that feeds the world. Choose a career in Food and Fibre.It’s your global opportunity.

 Taking the next step and recognising there is a career in food and fibre from A to Z with multiple entry points ( and industry crossover opportunities)  initiative the creative team behind Career Harvest will be launching a Career Map early next year. The career map will focus around the broader issues facing food and fibre, and be cross sector and cover careers in production right through to the processing stage. The map’s aim is to encourage thought around what roles people might play, and look at broader opportunities, rather than stepping out defined career paths.  The map will cover a wide range of primary sectors including but not exclusive to Horticulture, livestock, cropping, Dairy, Intensive vegetables and also the more expansive list of post farm gate options.

 In the meantime I would love to share this awesome career pathway publication called  Stepping Stones from the Australian dairy industry with you.

Stepping Stones

After been made aware of this new initiative Stepping Stones I immediately shared it with the current NSW Farmers Young Farmers Council committee

Chair Josh Gilbert had this to say

Dairy Australia have just launched a publication that is creating the Stepping Stones for a better agricultural future- so why aren’t we sharing it with the world and shouting it from the rooftops?

Last week, Lynne shared this exciting new document from Dairy Australia that illustrates ‘career pathways for new and current employees in the Tasmanian Dairy Industry’. Instantaneously, I was impressed!

What fascinated me most when I first saw this document was the great, positive imaging of the industry, important information shared in an exciting way and mostly, the package provided a plan. The guide actively encourages users to start a career in the dairy industry, showing the steps involved and where this field can take them.

The publication explores the many facets of dairying in Australia and actively promotes the benefits of each occupation- rather than just saying that you would have a lot of fun doing it. It highlights the steps needed to be taken in order achieve a long lasting career in dairy, rather than seeing it as purely a job.

This is a document we should be sharing with the world, especially to school aged children who may or may not understand that the dairy industry in Australia is vibrant and exciting. It should also be sent to our current farmers, highlighting some further opportunities that are out there for them in the industry and providing a road map as to how to get there. It is these thought provoking ideas and tips that encourage change and long term prosperity.

Dairy Australia must be congratulated on this resource, while the other sectors strongly motivated to create something similar. If we are to continue encouraging young entrants into the field, it is publications such as these that need to be created and shared.

Its time for agriculture to stop worrying about the so called aging workforce, young people like our Young Farming Champions many of whom don’t come from farming backgrounds are excited about agriculture.

As the forward in Stepping Stones says

Career progression and pathway planning is the key to reaching your career goals…….

And remember, sometimes planning your pathway may seem daunting, so break it into pieces and focus on each goal ahead, one step at a time

Its time for agriculture to start creating more great resources like Stepping Stones that not only give great advice to people who want a career in dairy, how to move into share farming and leasing but also provides great advice to people who want to transition out of the industry workforce but not necessarily leave the farm and how they can support young entrants

Calling youth in agriculture. Together we can achieve greatness

Joshua Gilbert Art4agriculture Cattle and Sheep Young Farming Champion ( sponsored by MLA ) and chair of the NSW Farmers Young Farmer Council had the opportunity to inspire young people in the audience at the inaugural Wagga Agricultural Industry Ball to be the change that agriculture must have

Wagga Ag Ball

Charles Sturt University students (from left) Albert Gorman, Eliza Star, Mikaela Baker, Brittany Bickford, Hannah Powe, Alex Trinder, Jessica Kirkpatrick, Leigh O’Sullivan are organising an agricultural networking event. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

Today I share this wonderful speech with you

Josh Gilbert

 Josh Gilbert -photo thanks to Hannah Barber

Tonight, I want to challenge your thoughts on how we communicate as an industry. It starts with a few facts, and how a shift in these completely changes how we are viewed and operate as an industry.

  • In the next 30 years, 50% of the world’s farming land will change hands.
  • We are faced with the oldest average age of workers, running in at around 56.
  • There are 135,000 farm businesses across Australia which means we have 135,000 farmers who are CEO’s.
  • One Australian farmer on average feeds an impressive 600 people on less land, compared to one farmer feeding 20 people 70 years ago.
  • Our great nation is said to have been ​founded on the sheep’s back.

To me these statistics can only mean one thing- there is and will continue to be opportunity for youth in agriculture. But just like our machinery improvements and technology gains and the different styles of farming we see today, we too need to move with the times and change the way we communicate and market Australian agriculture, both here at home and of course overseas.

I expect the Wagga Agricultural Industry Ball will become an annual event for us to discuss these changes. That we will have the opportunity to meet back here each year and challenge our ideals and ways of thinking, so we can best move forward as an industry. I would like to congratulate the organisers of this event and also recognise my NSW Young Farmer colleagues in the room.

Recently someone close to me told me that I can’t need something. That I can’t use this word to try and change things. And while at the time I argued until I was blue in the face that I knew better, I was wrong.

This got me thinking about our marketing strategy for agriculture and how we bombard ourselves and our consumers with statements such as ‘every day, three times a day, you need a farmer’ or that we should ‘ thank our farmers because we ate today’. And while you and I understand the rationale behind this, I think we’re sending the wrong message out to people who don’t necessarily share our enthusiasm or knowledge of our industry.

So this poses the next question. Why is it that we use this language?

Is it because we feel we are the forgotten ones?

Is it out of fear of losing something that means a lot?

Is it because we feel undervalued?

Is it out of insecurity that we have our “right to farm” and at times our farming practices being questioned?

Whether we like it or not there will always be consumers who don’t care where their food comes from as long as its affordable and nutritious. And in reality this is a good thing and our role as farmers is to maintain or enhance the underlying faith those consumers have in the food and fibre we produce.

There is however up to 10% of the population who care very much about how their food and fibre is produced and are questioning modern farming methods. It is imperative we acknowledge that part of our role as a farmers and members of the agriculture sector is to actively engage and build honest and transparent relationships with these consumers. It is imperative that agriculture offers them access to real farmers and the opportunity to ask questions even the difficult ones. Its is imperative that our farmers not get defensive and have the skills sets and knowledge to engage  with non farmers audiences in a language that resonates with them.

It is essential that each of us be prepared to tell our stories, that we put a face to and share our values of why we farm the way we do to help ensure the community has the confidence that our farmers are committed to producing affordable, nutritious, safe food and quality fibre. This is the greatest opportunity and most effective way we have to connect with our consumers.

Trust, respect, pride and faith in farmers and farming practices are developed through positive messages and transparency, through messages that build a connection and pride  Playing the sympathy or the you “need me” card on the other hand only polarises the very people it is so important we build these connections with. The truth is farmers and consumers need each other.  We must rise above this ‘them and us’ mindset and focus on sharing with the community that Australian farmers are committed to being leaders on the world’s stage in safe, affordable nutritious food and quality fibre production.

To ensure that we get the ball rolling tonight, I’d like for you all to pull out your phones. I have a tweet here that will link to my Facebook that states ‘The future ag leaders at #WACAgBall14- we all love what we do, we are all proud of what we do,so let’s share it with the world’. What I’d like you to do is this- retweet, share, like, comment, favourite the message and start sharing your stories. If we are to create this change- we need to start working on it now.

Lastly, I’d encourage you to keep the conversation going. Think about why you’re involved in agriculture, the impact that you play and what you want the future to look like. Then plan and share- because together we can achieve greatness.

Together, we can show that Australian agriculture has deserves the respect, pride and idolisation that we received decades before and still does.


Thanks Josh very inspiring indeed

Champions in the Paddock and Champions on the Cutting Floor

Its been a very exciting week for our 2014 Grains Young Farming Champions  Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Daniel Fox, Diana George and Jessica Kirkpatrick with their “An Innovative Industry” video taking out the Royal Adelaide Show ‘Seed to Store Competition’ and  prize money of $1000.

The  Grains YFC  team plan to use their prize money to engage a professional animator to help create a video animation to showcase the industry they love 


L-R Dee George, Jessica Kirkpatrick, Rebecca Thistlethwaite and Daniel Fox

Channel Nine’s Andrew ‘Cosi’ Costello, along with the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) Kathleen Allan and South Australian Grains Industry Trust’s (SAGIT) David Shannon showcased the top five entries, and awarded the prestigious blue ribbon, on the Coke Stage.

“This is the first year the Royal Adelaide Show has run the Seed to Store contest as a competitive entry and we are thrilled at how the initiative has increased awareness of the role of food production in Australia,” Ms Allan said.

“The YouTube clip competition is a new competitive entry which involves developing a one-minute video clip promoting the grains sector. It is an exciting initiative which allows agriculture to be promoted through social media, which is fundamental in reaching the young generation of consumers.”

The competition, managed by AgCommunicators and supported by the GRDC and SAGIT, which worked collaboratively with the Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Society to coincide the launch of the clips with the show’s 175th birthday.

SAGIT Trustee David Shannon believes it is important to remind people where their food comes from, and was excited that the YouTube clip gave entrants the opportunity to showcase modern, innovative and sustainable farming.

“The link between where food begins and the end product can be lost because of little knowledge of grains and how they fit into our food production systems,” he said.

“With 16,800 grains of wheat in a loaf of bread and around 1600 grains of barley in a can of beer the YouTube clips will help to reconnect people with the source of grains in their food.”

“The standard of the competition was extremely high, with entrants using great editing and communication skills to show the process of food production in Australia,” Mr Shannon said.

Top five entries  video can be accessed at these links

FIRST PRIZE: Art4Agriculture Grains Young Farming Champions – Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Daniel Fox, Diana George and Jessica Kirkpatrick.

SECOND PRIZE: ‘What does the plant say’ – Bethany Simpson, Meg Jarvis, Chelsea Arthur, Ayeisha Bishop, Eliza Bastian and Pieter Cillie, Booleroo Centre

THIRD PRIZE: ‘Seed to Store’, Marni Greenshields, University of South Australia

FOURTH PRIZE: Adele Justice and Ann Rowett, Xavier College

FIFTH PRIZE: Urrbrae Agricultural High School Team 5 – Kelsey Adams, Clare Edgecombe, Cody Faucett, Fletcher Wood and staff Nick Jackson and Tracey Ireland

Well done team YFC Grains

So many myths about food driven by emotion and not backed by science.

Everyday I am reminded through conversations I have with people in the community just how confused people are about food production systems and I can see why.

what it takes to be a farmer

They are continually bombarded with messages that tell them its wrong to eat animals.  Yet nobody talks about what the world would look like if we didn’t eat animals. Lets not be too naive here it is a conversation that we must have. Realistically if animals were free to roam and populate the world animals and humans will be competing for food  in a very short time.

Lets discuss some of the realities

  • We already have thousands of domestic dogs and cats who end up in animal shelters for various reasons. What happens to the majority of them?. Yes they are euthanized,
  • Less than 6% of Australia is suitable for growing crops. Can we seriously all become vegetarians and share the food we produce with all the animals that will rapidly populate this country if we let them all run free.
  • Australia is the driest continent on the earth. There are years and years where farmers struggle to access fodder to feed their sheep and cattle and the only the answer to that is the abattoirs.
  • A lot of these animals are carnivores. Who is going to reason with pigs and tell them they cant eat people.
  • We just cant feed people everyone from vegie gardens in back yards. Seriously how many people living in urban areas have the time or the desire to go back to their farming roots and hold down 9 to 5 jobs. This is put into perspective nicely here. Can Urban Agriculture Feed the World

Then there is this proliferation of boutique farmers who tell us their style of farming is the only one that is sustainable and big agriculture is bad for the planet . Well is that a myth?  Visit here to get an alternate view that is backed by real science.

Then there is the myth that organic farming is best farming method for the planet. Again this is driven by emotion and media and PR campaigns that promotes organic farming by deriding main stream family farmers and not backed by science. The ABC Checkout program covers this brilliantly here

Never before has it been more important for mainstream agriculture to connect and have conversations with consumers. Never before has it been so important that we give consumers the opportunity to get a balanced viewpoint so they can make food choices that are based on their values backed by real science. This is the ethos behind  Art4Agriculture and the Young Farming Champions program and out next post will share with you the positive impacts our programs are having in schools