In­dus­try stal­wart hon­oured

Albany Extra - - Extra News - Cally Dupe

Digby Stretch was “just a young farmer” when he be­came ac­tively in­volved with agri-pol­i­tics in the early 1990s.

The Ko­jonup gra­zier said he was spurred into ac­tion af­ter the Aus­tralian Wool Cor­po­ra­tion’s Re­serve Price Scheme crashed and wool prices plum­meted.

Al­most three decades on and Mr Stretch was last week awarded Pas­toral­ists and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion of WA’s achieve­ment award for 2017. The award, spon­sored by Wel­lard, recog­nised Mr Stretch for his con­tri­bu­tion to the PGA and the State’s agri­cul­tural in­dus­try.

Mr Stretch said he felt hon­oured to serve the live­stock in­dus­try as co-vice-pres­i­dent of the PGA af­ter first join­ing as a young buck.

“The sheep and wool in­dus­try was go­ing through the pain of the wool mar­ket re­serve price scheme dis­man­tling,” he said.

“I was only a young farmer but pol­icy was hurt­ing us big time. I re­alised it was prob­a­bly good to get in and shape those poli­cies that were go­ing to af­fect us for the next 30 or so years.

“I thought I could ei­ther sit back and end up griz­zling as an old bloke, or I could get up as a young bloke and do some­thing about it.”

Mr Stretch serves as the PGA’s co-vice-pres­i­dent, with Locky McTaggett, and was chair­man of the PGA’s live­stock com­mit­tee for more than 10 years.

He farms 50km west of Ko­jonup with his wife Nicky and 25-year-old daugh­ter Emily. The fam­ily has cropped 800ha of canola, wheat, and oats this year, and cur­rently man­age about 11,000 sheep.

As the fire chief of his lo­cal com­mu­nity, Mr Stretch said his vol­un­teer role at the PGA drew com­par­isons to his role as a vol­un­teer fire­fighter.

“The PGA spends a lot of time putting in fire­breaks and mak­ing sure the en­vi­ron­ment is good to work in, but then when some­thing does go wrong we go in hard very quickly,” he said.

Pic­ture: Cally Dupe

Digby Stretch with the PGA Achieve­ment Award.

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