2004 Runners up

2004 New South Wales Runner-up - Lorroi Pagett

Promoting Dorpers as the Ultimate Meat Sheep Breed

At the time of the Award, Lorroi was a veterinarian and embryo transfer specialist by trade and one of the country’s most successful Dorper breeders.

Her vision is to see Australian agricultural industries embrace the Dorper breed as a profitable and sustainable meat sheep alternative.

Lorroi focused her attention on promoting the breed and educating agriculture on its benefits.  She attended a number of agricultural field days and shows, including the National Field Days at Orange where she lectured for three days and the Nyngan Ag Expo where her educational displays won the Country Energy Award for Most Educational Exhibit.

On a personal level, the Award was valuable in developing Lorroi’s confidence, leadership and public speaking skills, with the opportunity to participate and speak at a number of conferences including the Western Division Young Farmers Conference held in Broken Hill in September 2004, along with numerous media interviews.

Lorroi’s on farm production sale in 2004 and National Dorper Sale saw averages close to triple that of the previous year. She and her husband also sold Dorpers into Brazil and America, with enquiry extending to India, Pakistan and other Asian countries. Her next project is to set up an Export Embryo Centre on farm.

2004 Victorian Runner-Up - Beverley Fisher

Riverview Juices Unlimited

Beverley Fisher is a third generation citrus grower from outside Cobram in northern Victoria and the brains behind “Riverview Juices”.

She instigated “Riverview Juices” in an effort to value add domestic citrus into fresh juices and gain a competitive advantage over cheap Brazilian imported juice.  The company was successfully selling juice into the local region and at Farmers markets, and was also selling oranges into local supermarkets.

Her vision was to grow the company ‘Riverview Juices Unlimited’ into a new range of value adding opportunities, including essential oils and alcoholic drinks, marmalades and dried fruits and to expand the number of growers supporting the venture.

Beverley used the bursary to attend and speak at a number of conferences and to promote her products at a number of expos.  She regarded the invitation to speak at the Australian Citrus Growers Annual Conferences in Mildura as a major milestone in her career; as recognition of her achievements and commitment by her peers in her industry.

She also gained valuable knowledge, skills and experience in exhibiting and in business management, as a result of attending the Successful Exhibiting at Expos Workshop at Bendigo. As a direct result of that workshop she was offered the opportunity to participate in the Melbourne Fine Food Show, where she was able to promote her product to a much wider and more sophisticated Melbourne audience.

2004 Queensland Runner-Up - Dee Dunham

he Farmstead Experience

At the time of the Award, Dee Dunham was Principal of Coolabine Goat Cheese Farmstead, one of only two farmstead’s producing goat milk cheese in Queensland.  Dee has taken out a number of prestigious awards, in recognition of the quality of her cheese, including the Maker of the Best Cheese at the 2003 Sydney Royal Easter Show. In addition she was awarded grand Champion Nubian Goat Breeder at the Brisbane Royal Show for five consecutive years and Grand Champion Cheese at the 2002 Brisbane Royal Show.  She is passionate about her goats and her cheese and in instilling in the general community an appreciation of rural and regional produce and the people its supports.

Dee put her bursary towards the upgrade of cheese making equipment, including the pasteuriser and towards the promotion of the “Farmstead Experience’ workshop.  The “Farmstead Experience’ workshop is a one day workshop open to the general community and designed to impart skills and knowledge in the art of cheese making and an awareness of the importance of Australian rural industries and rural people.

The equipment upgrade increased cheese production by up to 50 percent, while the workshops held the first and third Sunday of every month during production, attracted hundreds of people.

Coolabine Goat Cheese Farmstead was part of the slow food movement and Dee’s biggest achievement for the year was to host the ‘Slow Food Spring Fair’ a celebration of rural lifestyle and slow cooked seasonal and regional produce. The inaugural event was a resounding success, attracting well over 1000 people, many from the city out for the day to experience the pleasures of rural Queensland.

2004 South Australia Runner-Up - Laura Fell

A Study into the Poultry Industries in the United Arab Emirates

Laura Fell is a contract chicken meat producer and has been actively involved in the South Australian chicken meat industry since the early 1990’s.  Laura, as a result of two trade delegations, became involved in furthering trade relations between Australia and Iraq, and in fostering new opportunities for Australian agricultural research and extension services and expertise.

Laura planned to put the Bursary towards further travel to Iraq but this had to be abandoned due to the rapidly deteriorating security situation in that country. Instead she put the bursary towards a study tour of the poultry industries of the United Arab Emirates to learn from their table egg and chicken meat (broiler) industries, and their management of production, animal welfare, biosecurity and climate conditions, in an effort to encourage the greater adoption of Australian technologies and expertise.

She visited two of the country’s major poultry companies, the Al Jazira Poultry farm and the Emirates Modern Poultry farm, where she met with senior management personnel and was briefed extensively on their operations.  She subsequently visited the UAE on two further occasions in 2004, studying in more detail a number of table egg laying facilities, breeder and broiler farmers, hatcheries and egg grading facilities and processing and packing plants.

Laura gained unique insights into the UAE industries and how business is conducted in the region, along with access to high level contacts. These were insights and contacts that she believes facilitated improved relations between the two countries and led to the update of Australian technology and expertise.

2004 Western Australia Runner-up - Wendy Newman

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.

Her project involved travel to regional areas, including Handorf and the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, and Wangaratta in Victoria, to view first hand successful regional branding and marketing processes along with attending the 2004 Australian Women in Agriculture National Conference. She visited six successful rural enterprises in total, including the Alexandria Cheese Company, Trout Farm, and Alpaca farm, Milawa Mustards, Bakery and Olive Shop.

Wendy identified the key critical success factors in diversifying and value adding all these businesses were passion, research and planning, common sense pragmatic approach to business, relationships, stringent supply chain and quality assurance control and strong market focus.  While the study tour did not resolve in any major way the issues confronting rural communities, as identified above, Wendy found the tour invaluable in expanding her networks and her exposure to other regional enterprises and branding initiatives.

2004 Tasmanian Runner-Up - Sandra Phythian

Developing Leadership and Providing Facilitation and Mentoring for the Seafood Industry

At the time of the Award, Sandra was Principal of Fisheries Business Consulting Australasia and worked as a business consultant to the seafood industry. She had been intrinsically involved in the industry, both nationally and in Tasmania, for more than a decade.

Sandra’s vision is for a seafood industry that is ecologically and economically sustainable, that promotes healthy quality products and where its operators take more responsibility and deal more proactively with issues critical to the industry and its future viability.

She used the bursary to undertaken higher training into coaching, communication and diversity, people development and conflict and leadership facilitation, teams and training, to better equip herself as a consultant, facilitator and mentor to others in her industry.

Sandra used her newly acquired skills to positive effect. She voluntarily designed and ran a leadership development program for the Tasmanian seafood industry. She was in the development stages of a true leadership program for persons involved in primary industries in Tasmania and was also planning workshops in personal and business skills for women in primary industries across Australia.

2004 Northern Territory Runner-Up - Megan Connolly (Hoskins)

Investigating How to Encourage a Shift Towards Sustainable Agricultural Practices-A Quest for Rural Community Change.

At the time of the Award Megan Hoskins worked as an Entomology Research and Extension Officer with the Northern Territory government based at Katherine.  Megan is committed to biological farming, often described as fusion farming or the fusing of the best farming practices and technologies used in organic, biodynamic and conventional farming systems.  She has no doubt that sustainable farming practices need to be embraced by primary producers if the future sustainability of rural industries is to be assured. However to encourage the shift from proven conventional methods to unproven alternatives, she believes requires producers to witness the results of biological farming practices for themselves.

Megan’s focus was on increasing her knowledge and understanding of the principles behind successful biological farming and becoming familiar with its tools and techniques, before sharing her knowledge and expertise with producers.  She attended relevant workshops, including the Nutri Tech Solutions four part seminar series in sustainable agriculture, which was held in Adelaide in July 2004.

The course was delivered in four parts – mineral management and microbe management, plant management and pest management. The take home message for Megan was that treating the symptoms does not necessarily mean you are treating the cause and the cause is often a nutrient imbalance rather than a pesticide deficiency.

The second course was the Soil Food Web Interaction and Benefits to Plant Production, a three week course held at the Southern Cross University at Lismore. The course provided detailed theoretical instruction and practical skills in soil biology, soil chemistry and molecular biology.  The courses taught Megan a great deal about soil and plant health and that the two can combine to assist in the growing of healthier and more nutritionally balanced crops.

Megan wrote an article for the local government newsletter – the Katherine Rural Review on biological farming and had considerable interaction with fellow workers, industry support staff and primary producers, and continued to help producers monitor pest pressure in their crops.  Two notable success stories include a mango grower and a legume hay producer, who both started  to reap the benefits of biological farming in terms of reduced pesticide dependence and healthier more profitable crops.