2011 Farmer of the Year: innovation and sustainability.
By Matt O’Sullivan from Melbourne 3000
We’re searching for the nation’s best farmers for the 2011 Australian Farmer of the Year Awards. Proudly supported by ABC Rural and the Kondinin Group, the awards celebrate our most professional, innovative and sustainable farmers.
2011 Farmer of the Year Award nominations are open for the following categories;
- Farmer of the Year
- Young Farmer of the Year
- Diversification Farmer of the Year
- Farm Industry Leader of the Year
- Biosecurity Farmer of the Year
- Wool Producer of the Year
- Livestock Producer of the Year
- Grain Grower of the Year
The award’s inaugural winner, Ross Woodhouse farms dairy cows on a property in south west WA.
As a result of the award, Mr Woodhouse is being courted by foreign investors, keen to explore his share-farm model of management.
"The corporate model can bring a lot to the table without necessarily relinquishing all ownership and there’s potential to develop businesses, adopt new technology, provide finance into the business you couldn’t bring to the party as an individual."
The interest from investors has reassured Ross Woodhouse about the future of farming. He says ‘food is going to be the next gold if you like’.
"The smart money from investment is now going into food because the real estate and the minerals and all the rest are good, but ultimately people need to eat and with the populations of the world growing and the demand for food increasing on a minute by minute basis it’s an exciting place to be."
The 2010 winners
Nominations for the 2010 award came from throughout the country and winners were announced in eight categories.
- The Farm Industry Leader of the Year Award went to Keith Perrett from Gunnedah in NSW.
- The Future Focus Farmer of the Year Award was awarded to Andrew and Camilla Philip and Kevin Philip from Isis, Central Queensland.
- The Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Award in the animal category went to Michael Blake from Hamilton in Victoria.
- The Wool Producer of the Year Award also went to Michael Blake from Hamilton in Victoria.
- The Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Award in the plant category was awarded to Lachlan Dobson from Kununurra in Western Australia.
- The Diversification Farmer of the Year Award went to Josef Gretschmann from Deloraine in Tasmania.
- The Grain Grower of the Year Award was awarded to Nic Harrison from Sea Lake in Victoria.
- The Young Farmer of the Year Award went to Robert Watkins from Walkamin in Queensland.
The inaugural Farmer of the Year, Ross Woodhouse is encouraging other farmers to nominate for the 2011 awards.
He says making connections with other farmers, and hearing other stories of innovation and excellence, have been the big benefits.
He says the quiet achievers are often the backbone of their rural communities and they often underestimate their skills.
"Look at a farmer’s decision-making on a daily basis, they have to be vets, they have to be tax consultants, they have to be employers, they have to be mechanics, the number of skills that we draw on as a farmer far exceeds any other form of employment that I’ve seen in any walk of society.
"There are farmers out there with enormous potential and a good story to tell".