Archibull Prize judging goes south of the border to ‘Mexico’

Week 2 Day 3 of  Archibull Prize 2014 judging saw Wendy fly from Newcastle to Melbourne where she visited Kilbreda College and the Emerson Special School

This is what Wendy had to say about the schools she visited in Melbourne

First up was Kilbreda College

“Hidey” has nothing to hide! She has a very simple and subtle story – showing a pictorial of different grains an1d their textures. It is her vibrant bands of eye-popping colour overlaid with the intricate patterns of the grains which give her visual appeal. The balance of colour, pattern and texture is very well done. Her living grain base is a nice contrast and adds to the sense of balance.

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Follow Kilbreda College Archibull journey via their blog here  and their video

From Kilbreda College Wendy travelled to Emerson School.

Each year with the support of a different organisation Art4Agriculture is able to support a school who isn’t able to undertake the full program but are passionate about sharing the great stories of farmers and farming with their students. This year Emerson Special School was chosen to be that school and wow what a special group of people they are ( students and teachers)

Emerson School is a specialist school located in Dandenong, Victoria, catering to students with mild intellectual processing difficulties. From an initial enrolment of less than 100 students in 1973, Emerson has grown to be one of the leading providers of specialist education in Victoria, with 100 staff now supporting 400 students to achieve their potential.

A proud and vibrant member of the local community, Emerson prides itself on being a school of first choice – not a school of last resort.

The Emerson community exists to provide a first rate education to all who walk through its doors. Emerson School is comprised of our Junior School (students aged 5-11 years), Middle School (12-15 years) and Senior School (16-18 years). Class sizes range from 8 students per class in the Junior School to 16-19 in the Middle and Senior Schools. These small classes ensure that programs are able to be tailored to individual students’ requirements. Source

This is what Wendy had to say about Emerson Public School

“Daisy” is very well named. She is cosy and comfortable and warm. Her knitted coat has loads of texture and appeal, with the felted daisies being the standout feature. Her stylish hat and gorgeous eyelashes complete the picture. Her story of wool is simple and thorough and perfectly encapsulates the breadth of the learning done by the students.

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Watch the wonderful video they have made of their  journey with Daisy to learn about wool

The Archibull Prize judging see Moos in the Museum

Week two Day two of the 2014 Archibull Prize judging found Wendy at the magnificent Newcastle Museum

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Newcastle district primary schools and Maitland Grossman High School put on a wonderful display of Archie’s at the museum for both Wendy and the public

This is what Wendy had to say

Hamilton North Public School’s “Mr Archiwool” is so warm and well wrapped up!

He is clever, vibrant and tactile. His subtle story of the Wool industry is well thought out and well expressed and his links to Bessie (their Young Farming Champion) are beautiful. His sense of fun and playfulness are undeniable. He perfectly captures the fact that simplicity can be a very effective tool.

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Is “Mabel”  from Maitland Grossmann High School a pull-along toy? Or is she a pair of jeans?

Her subtle worn-looking base coat is the star. It ties all her elements together into a homogeneous design, while adding a layer of depth. The pull along toy concept is clever and quirky, while the denim look (especially around the neck) is effective and creates a fine layer of detail. She tells a quiet and subtle story of cotton in a very expressive way.

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Threadrick McBobbin from Bolwarra Public School is a character.

From his highly original name to his stylish hat, skintight jeans and buttoned-up shirt, this little cow is big on personality. His seasonal pictorial of the cotton industry is simple, beautiful and informative, while his furrowed base and little trolley of products complete the story. He is charming and vibrant and very expressive.

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“WiriChick”  from Wiripaang Public School is in a class of its own!

She is unique in just about every aspect – she is alone in representing the egg and poultry industries this year; she has used projections (which is a first for the Archibull Prize); and the sheer number of different techniques explored on her surface make her stand out. The colourful mosaic surface is wonderful, as is her crushed eggshell face and feathered legs.

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Archibull Prize judging takes us to China

Day 1 of Week 2 of the 2014 Archibull Prize judging saw artwork judge Wendy Taylor head west towards the Blue Mountains

First off the rank was Hurlstone Agricultural High School

This is what Wendy had to say about their Archie who they have called Ni Cow

“Ni Cow isn’t a bull in a china shop. She is a cow from China.

Everything about her has layers of meaning and complexity and has been well thought out. She is well balanced visually, and takes an interesting viewpoint with both her sustainability message -that of financial sustainability -as well as her viewpoint of the dairy industry. She is relevant and intrinsically unique. Her delicate patterning and limited colour palette perfectly reflect the concept. No detail has been missed and every component adds to the total picture.

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Next up was Hawkesbury High School

Wendy said “Baa-Baa Rella” has the best horns!

They are red and white striped and link perfectly with her name and elements of the wool industry (Barber’s Pole Worms). She shows us two very different views of the wool industry in Australia. One side is vibrant, lush and reminiscent of the paintings of Tom Roberts, while the other side is a graphic and complex collage. The simple map on her side is a great element which complements her story well.

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Then Wendy headed back to Caringbah where she visited James Ruse Agricultural High School

Would you like to see inside the Dairy industry? Or inside “Archie”?

The hero element of Archie is the story itself. All elements of the industry are covered in her concept, with the process line from paddock to product being the ‘inside’ story. The working milk pump is a star, as is her interactivity. Her vibrant colours stand out and she is fun and playful. She has features all over to make the viewer smile.

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Meet Jo Newton who is stepping up to solve the big problems in agriculture

Today we continue our series for Ausagventures #YouthinAg showcase by featuring Jo Newton one of our three young farming champions completing her PhD

Jo Newton with melissa-henry-and-the-2013-wool-young-farming-champions and 2011 YFC Melissa Henry

Jo Newton (far left) with Wool Young Farming Champions Bessie Blore, Melissa Henry, Adele Offley and Cassie Baile

Jo is one of 10 people in the Art4Agriculuture team who have been listed in the Women in Australian Agribusiness 100 

Jo is one of a team of Australian researchers transforming Wool, meat and the sheep who produce them Jo Newton

Jo Newton with her beloved sheep  – Photo Matt Cawood

Check out what Jo has been up to ……

I’ve always been a problem solver and liked asking lots of questions so I guess it was no great surprise to my family and friends that I decided to embark on a PhD as its essentially 3 years of problem solving and answering (or trying to answer) questions. My family and friends accepted my passion for sheep a long time ago though I often find that people in agriculture are surprised to learn I am from Melbourne with no background in agriculture.

My PhD topic (or big “problem”) that I’m researching is the variable success rates for early reproductive performance in sheep. What do I mean by that?

Traditionally in Australia ewes are first joined to rams when they are 18 months old so they have their first lamb at 2 years of age. If we can successfully breed ewes so they have their first lamb at 1 year of age we are cutting one whole year from the production cycle which has several potential benefits for the Australian wool and sheep industry and farmers. However, one of the current challenges with breeding ewes at younger ages is the big variation in the percentage of ewes that fall pregnant. Last year we had a range from 0% to ~90% of ewes pregnant in 1 year across the different farms I’ve been working with.

For the last 2 years I’ve been working on 2 main aspects of my project. Firstly I’ve been collaborating with a number of sheep studs across Australia to collect data on joining ewes at 7 months of age. Thanks to the cooperation of numerous farmers we have been able to record live weights, condition score and collecting blood samples from young ewes. We then monitor these ewes to see which ewes have lambs. Last year we took measurements on 4000 animals!!! This year I get to start analyzing all this data. However, the drought has impacted on the number of ewes that we had in our study so we are also collecting data for another year.

The other aspect of my work I have been working on is an analysis of some historical data. This is data which has been collected on a 8 research sites around Australia as part of the Sheep CRC Information Nucleus Flock. As my research is centred around genetics a big chunk of my time is spent in front of a computer writing computer programs. I’ve been estimating heritabilities to determine what proportion of the animal’s expression of a particular trait (i.e. whether it has a lamb) is due to it’s genes and what proportion is due to the environment. Estimating genetic and phenotypic correlations between different traits enables us to work out which traits might be linked or “correlated” to one another.

At the moment I’m doing some simulation work. What this means is that I have a virtual flock of 300 ewes sitting on my computer. I’m using my virtual flock to test different breeding program designs. I’m changing things like flock fertility, the age rams & first have lambs and whether animals have genomic information or not. I’m then comparing my different scenarios to work out which ones result in the most genetic progress for important traits. Whilst it would be great to test these things on actual sheep to measure and compare genetic progress would require years and years of waiting whereas I can get results in about a week from my virtual sheep flock! This is all possible thanks to the enormous amounts of assistance, support and encouragement I get from my supervisors Sonja, Daniel & Julius and all the staff at UNE, CSIRO and AGBU.

The next 12 months as I aim to wrap up my PhD are going to be busy and I will probably encounter a few hurdles on my way. However with the support of my peers, family, friends, supervisors and staff I know that I can make it though.

A spoonful of medicine makes Mary a very happy little lamb

Today’s guest blog is the second in a series the Young Farming Champions are penning for Ausagventures #YouthinAg series

Our first blog featured Dr (in waiting) Steph Fowler who is one of our  three Young Farming Champions who are currently daring to conduct very different and innovative research as part of their PhD thesis.

Today we bring you update from Dr (in waiting) Danila Marini’s research looking at drugs and sheep and whether it is possible to get sheep to take their own spoonful of medicine

Danila Marini

Danila Marini Photo ABC Rural

Danila thinks sheep are smart enough to self-medicate.

“It’s just like humans. As an individual they can have varying levels of intelligence.”

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Getting ready for the first day of my experiment

My PhD project is about developing a self-medication method for pain relief in sheep, which means I’m trying to teach sheep to take their own medicine. As part of common husbandry practices sheep undergo some painful procedures such as tail-docking and castration and just like us their post operative pain can last several days. Farmers currently have anaesthetics and analgesics that can relieve the pain during the time of the procedure but have yet to overcome the logistics issues to relieve the sheep’s pain  post operatively.

This is where my project comes in! If I can add a pain relief drug to feed and teach sheep to take it when they experience pain, it’ll make the farmer’s job a little easier and keep the sheep happy and healthy

So far I have completed my first experiment. This experiment involved using a lameness model for sheep and administering 3 different drugs as an oral solution. The aim of this experiment was to see if the drugs were effective at reliving the pain associated with the lameness when administered as an oral dose. Sure enough we were able to identify the drug that was most effective and we plan to continue using it throughout the rest of my PhD.

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Introducing my sheep to pellets

This year marks the start of my second year and a big year its turning out to be! So far I have two experiments planned. The first which I have actually just started is in two parts, one is looking at the palatability of feed containing our pain relief drug, that’s testing whether it may have a flavour that sheep don’t like. The second part is a pharmacokinetic study, this involves measuring the concentration of the drug in the sheep’s plasma and will tell us what the body does to the drug and if feed intake affects that. The second experiment, planned for later in the year will test how effective the feed contain the drug is at relieving the pain of castration and tail-docking.

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My new cohort of sheep for my palatability and pharmacokinetic study

A PhD is full of ups and downs and when you work with animals there is always the potential for something to go wrong (what’s that saying “never work with children or animals”). You can also often experience a lot of down and isolating periods (statistics and writing is great for this). During these times you just have to make sure you seek support, ask your supervisors, university and friends for help and of course always make time for yourself!

But doing a PhD isn’t all doom and gloom and constant experiments and writing. Last year I was accepted to attend a PhD course about animal pain in Denmark. It was quite the experience and I got to meet a lot of students with the same passion to improve animal welfare as me as well as see some of the beautiful country. This year I will be going to the ISAE conference in Spain to present the results of my last experiment, I can’t wait for that.

I always find if you ever feel lost about your work, then talk about it. Every time I have to explain my research, what I’m doing and why, it always makes me as excited as the first day I decided to do the project.

Recently I had the amazing opportunity to talk about my project with Lisa Herbert of ABC Rural radio on Bush Telegraph. This came about thanks to Lynne Strong from Art4Agriculture who was interested in my story and asked me if I could write a small piece about myself for the blog. This leads me on to my final point.

Make sure you take every opportunity; you never know who you will meet, where it will take you or what you will learn.

Doing a PhD gives you the potential to do so much and meet a lot of people with the same interests as you. A PhD can be a tough commitment but is worth it and so far for me it’s been an amazing experience!

Read the blog post that caught the eye of Radio National and Bush Telegraph here

Hear Danila on Bush Telegraph here

Meet Peta Bradley whose world of agriculture is taking her to the cutting edge of technology

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Today’s guest blog comes from Peta Bradley whose journey into the world of agriculture began at a very young age, perched in the front of a work ute with her “Wiggles” tape on repeat checking lambing ewes with her mum on a frosty winters morning.

Now she is now studying Animal Science at the University of New England, Armidale

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This is Peta’s story………………….

I was born into the world of farming, along with my younger brother Jack. My parents are second generation farmers owning and managing a mixed enterprise farming business near the small village of Armatree, approximately 45 km north of Gilgandra, in the Central West of NSW. clip_image004

Our farm business consists of two enterprises: sheep and cereal cropping on 3,500 acres. Both my mum and dad studied agriculture at what is now known as Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. Dad was an agronomist so naturally he is the manager of the cropping side of the farm, while mum is a passionate stockwomen. This is where my passion also lies. However both the enterprises and the farm planning is truly, a family run unit.

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Our Family with the 2012 drop flock rams (and Penny the dog)

Growing up I’d spend countless hours checking lambing ewes in winter with mum or learning to drive before my feet could touch the peddles drought feeding sheep or scooting around the woolshed during shearing. From a young age I’d always loved sheep work, or anything to do with stock in general. With this thirst for knowledge and a million questions just bubbling from my lips mum and dad would do their best to answer the thousands of questions that were asked on a daily basis.

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Merino Ewes in for Drenching – December 2013

The sheep enterprise consists of a registered, performance tested Border Leicester Stud that sells stud and flock rams with a breeding base of 350 ewes. All sheep have a full pedigree and are registered with Sheep Genetics Australia. Along with the Border Leicester Stud we also run 1500 commercial Merino ewes that are joined annually to Border Leicester Rams. The ewe portion of the 1st cross progeny are sold to repeat buyers while the wether portion are sold over the hook through the Tooraweenah Prime Lamb Marketing Co-operative.

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Flap, the champion dog, with young flock rams

For my primary education I attended Gulargambone Central, a small school 10km away. Along with my passion for sheep, I relished any opportunity given to play sport whether it is cricket, football or netball. It was swimming however where my greatest sporting passion lay and in 2005 I was given the opportunity to swim at state level and since then I have swum at state level every year since. The desire to improve and work hard at something was an ideal that sport installed in me that has since given me the same drive in all other aspects of my life.

However it wasn’t until high school did my life really turn into a direction where I could see that my future lay in agriculture. My high schooling began and was completed at Gilgandra High School. An hour each way on the bus made for a long day, but I loved being able to come home every day and being involved in farming business. In Year 9 I selected agriculture as an elective subject. This is where I saw my career path begin to lay itself down in front of me. I was involved in every opportunity that I was given from Junior Judging, Sheep Showing, Development Days and Steer Shows.

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Sheep showing with the School (I’m far left in the back row)

The school had a relationship with our Border Leicester stud where we would prepare the sheep at school and show them on behalf of my family’s stud, New Armatree Border Leicesters. This relationship allows the school to house sheep during the early half of the year at the Ag Plot. Working with sheep gives students the confidence to work with stock prior to preparing steers in the latter half of the year. I began the captaincy of the show team in 2010 and continued this role until I completed my HSC last year. It involved organising 3 meetings a week and working with the younger students to develop their animal husbandry practices.

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The 2013 Show Team Ewes

I began Junior Judging at the age of 11, mainly competing at a couple of local shows. When I was 15 however I was old enough to qualify for the state finals held at Sydney Royal Easter Show. My first year I successfully qualified for the meat sheep judging, this was my first major judging competition and I initially found it quiet a daunting task, competing against people 10 years my senior. However I finished in 5th place- but more importantly gained a wealth of experience. In this same year I competed in the sheep handler’s competition, sponsored by a fellow Border Leicester Stud. I finished 1st in this competition.

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1st in the Junior Handlers – Sydney Royal 2011

Following my success in the handler’s competition, I began work for another Border Leicester based in Temora. In this role I was given the opportunity to travel to some of the biggest sheep shows in the country to prepare and show sheep on behalf of the stud including the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney Royal Shows.

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I’m pictured here with the Supreme Prime Lamb Sire at the 2012 Sydney Royal Easter Show with Wattle Farm Border Leicesters Stud Principle Jeff Sutton

With this continued exposure to sheep and the industry I once again competed in the NSW State Junior Judging Finals at Sydney Royal in 2012 in fleece, meat sheep, merino and cattle judging. I walked away as the NSW Reserve Champion Junior Judge in the Merino and Meat Sheep Judging as well as finishing 3rd place in the Fleece Judging. This success continued with me to Bendigo where I was announced as the 16 years and under Australasian Corriedale Judging Champion. I continued to compete in Junior Judging Competitions in the following years with my most recent success being at the 2013 Rabobank National Merino Show where I achieved the following results: 1st in the Merino Sheep, 1st Merino Fleece, Best Oral Presentation and Overall Champion Junior Judge.

In 2013 I was appointed as the youngest member onto the Australian Stud Sheep Breeder’s Association (ASSBA) NSW State Longwool and Short Wool Judging Panels. Since then I have had the opportunity to judge the meat sheep at a number of local shows. This year I also was the Over-judge in the Junior Judging Competition at Armidale Show that drew more than 80 entries. I also had the privilege of helping steward in the Merino section of the show.

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The Merino Section at Armidale Show

Last year I completed my HSC at Gilgandra High School. My passion for agricultural was apparent in my results finishing within the top 99.96% of NSW students in agriculture. I have now entered my first year studying a Bachelor of Animal Science (Livestock Production Major) at the University of New England, Armidale.

When I complete my degree I hope to continue onto further research within the Sheep Industry. My ultimate aim is to research, develop and implement new technology as well as maintain traditional breeding values and techniques to boost the production of Australia’s sheep and wool industries.

The area of arable land worldwide is decreasing, however the population is continuing to expand – the food and fibre needs of this growing population have to be met, Australian agriculture and the next generation of producers and researchers hold the key to boosting production.

To increase my knowledge of sheep and wool production in Australia I have also worked for 2 merino studs preparing and maintaining Housed Show Sheep for one and recording fleece weights at shearing for another. Along with my understanding of ASBVs (Australian Sheep Breeding Values) from our own Border Leicester Stud this has allowed me to generate a plethora of background knowledge that I wish to apply into my future career. Our stud is involved in some cutting edge technology in the sheep industry that include DNA blood carding young sires at 6 weeks of age to correlate DNA markers to their ASBVs, sires being used in semen projects at research bases around the country, as well as a number of PhD and masters projects being carried out on our ewe base.

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Arena Testing Border Leicester Ewes – To observe the correlation between behaviour in the arena and there mothering ability

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The lamb on the right is a ram used in the blood carding project and since has been used as a sire at 7 months of age to shorten the generational gap. He is one of the progeny from an Artificial Insemination program carried out last year.

Farming, as we know it is changing, shifting, evolving. Producers and all other partners of the agribusiness sector are required to be flexible and adapt to the ever changing global climate. The passion that the land imprints upon you will leave you longing for the rolling hills or the flat, open, golden plains. We must harness this passion and combine it with the new technologies to prepare ourselves for the promising, productive future of Australian agriculture. I am proud to be part of these young producers and researchers that must look into the future, educate others and implement cutting edge scientific methods in combination with the traditional values upon which the Australian agricultural industry is built to ensure the continued success of Australian agriculture..

Meet Emma Turner who knows every day three times a day you need a farmer

Our guest blog today comes from young wool farmer Emma Turner

‘for many farmers their career is a calling,
simultaneously more than a business and more than a lifestyle’  R L Wilkinson

My name is Emma Turner, I am 18 years old and this is my story………..

Emma Turner

 

I grew up on Stanbridge station, our 100,000 acre Merino sheep station, 100km south of the tiny town of Ivanhoe, in western NSW.

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I feel strongly connected and passionate towards agriculture underpinned by my family connection.

I am a sixth generation wool grower – the fifth in the Ivanhoe area – with my family roots to farming going as far back as 1844 when my English relatives moved to Adelaide and took up farming as a profession.

Agriculture has always been part of my life, with many life lessons being learnt from it.

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Mustering a mob of ewes and lambs at shearing time, enjoying the fresh grass after drought years.

Wool growing has taught me patience and being involved with our family business, Abbotsford Pastoral Co, has helped me learn many practical farm and life skills and lessons.

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Enjoying the mud on the four wheeler after 100mm of rain

It has also inspired my love for the industry and my passion to make a difference in agriculture – all while having fun and enjoying rural life.

I completed my primary years at Clare Public School where I was the only person in my class and the only girl at my school for three years. We never had any more than six students! Going to such a small and remote school taught me to make friends with everyone as sometimes you can’t afford to be choosey! It also taught me to participate in everything and be a team player on sports days and swimming carnivals, as most of the schools we competed against had at least 20 students!

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Our school photos had the best background

Having two younger brothers I was never bored or alone and over the years we invented our own forms of entertainment, from riding dad’s sale wethers around the yards and seeing who could stay on the longest before getting yelled at, to practising tricks on our motorbikes. We learnt from a young age how to ‘doctor’ ourselves, covering our cuts in Band-Aids before mum came at us with the dreaded iodine bottle!

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My brother and I enjoying a ride on our home made ‘speed boat’

Loving animals is really a given when it comes to agriculture, with my best mate being my dog, as well as a pet lamb to look after. Animals have always played a role in my life, and after watching the suffering they can experience in a drought, they have inspired me to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Science after my gap year. My dream is to study genetics and the role it could play in breeding a hardier, more drought resistant Merino.

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Enjoying rides in the ute with my best mate,

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and taking my poddy lamb for a walk after the rain

People farm for many different reasons, some for pleasure, some for return on capital, some for social approval, some for financial security, some because of the challenge and some because they can see no other alternative. I believe it is important for the agriculture sector to build relationships with the community to expand knowledge and understanding of the modern day farmer and what motivates him or her. It is important the wider community is able to understand the sacrifices and hardships that Australian farmers make everyday. Farming in Australia is a job and a lifestyle and so much more. It’s also lifestyle that can throw the biggest and hardest challenges, with more often than not no short term solutions. There is no quick fix for a flood or a drought. Farmers need support and targeted and relevant research and development so they can be resilient through these tough times.

My favourite quotation about agricultural is simple,

Every day three times a day you need a farmer

I believe this simple fact is overlooked in today’s modern society. I believe the long term future of the Australian agriculture sector relies on farmers and the community working together. Fresh ideas and innovative solutions are needed to start building these partnerships and I am doing what I have always done and that is putting my hand up to be on the team

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