Best Practice in Diversification and Value Adding
Wendy Newman was, amongst her numerous positions, Chair of the Wheatbelt Development Commission and Honorary Chair of the Heartlands Country Branding Group, a community driven group established to support producers involved in diversification and value adding. Wendy has long been concerned that the current emphasis in traditional broad acre farming, on production efficiencies, as a result of weather dependence and world trade, is putting enormous pressure on farmers, and forcing them to get big or get out.
The ramifications she believes include, farm buyouts and a subsequent reduction in the number of farming families, economic imperatives overriding environmental and social ones, strong dependence on one industry translating to increased vulnerability to adverse weather and trade conditions and a culture of exporting rather than value adding leading to reduced industry development and job creation opportunities.
Wendy believes that industries and individuals developing alternate approaches to agriculture that address the issues of community and environmental sustainability, as well as diversification of their economic base, need profiling and supporting. Wendy used the bursary to examine world’s best practice in supporting diversified farming practices, regional branding and warehousing and distribution models in a rural context, along with the role rural women play in these activities.