Farm­ers’ feast

Com­mu­nity ral­lies to­gether

McIvor Times - - NEWS - — An­drew Mole

WHAT bet­ter way to launch an in­no­va­tive com­mu­nity event for the re­gion’s farmer than a clas­sic ba­con and egg break­fast pro­vided by the Heath­cote Lions Club.

Washed down by the Cafe2U van, pro­vid­ing that caf­feine hit to make sure all par­tic­i­pants were bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

About 80 ru­ral pro­duc­ers, their fam­i­lies and some em­ploy­ees turned up for the early morn­ing gath­er­ing.

Heath­cote and Dis­trict Com­mu­nity Bank com­pany sec­re­tary Han­nah Thomson said the event be­gan at 8am with ma­jor spon­sor Ru­ral Bank help­ing cover the cost of the morn­ing’s cater­ing.

“It was a free event and Heath­cote’s com­mu­nity bank worked with Ru­ral Bank to pick up all ex­penses and that made it an easy event to at­tend,” Han­nah said.

“Our branch man­ager Michael Prowse, who was MC for the oc­ca­sion, be­gan the for­mal pro­ceed­ings at 8.45am,” she said.

“Our first guest speaker was Alexan­dra Gart­mann – chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ru­ral Bank – while Sher­rie Coote from Heath­cote Film Fes­ti­val pre­sented two short films.

“One of those movies was about farm­ing and had been filmed in Col­binab­bin.

“Sher­rie and hus­band Tony sup­plied all the au­dio vis­ual equip­ment for the event as well as their time set­ting up and man­ning the equip­ment.”

Han­nah said af­ter morn­ing tea Peter Strange – the men’s health nurse from Bendigo Com­mu­nity Health – spoke on the very top­i­cal is­sues of farmer/ men’s health.

She said all speak­ers were well re­ceived by the au­di­ence.

“Once the for­mal parts of the break­fast event had been com­pleted our guests were then able to pe­ruse the mini trade fair and grab a sausage and a beer from the Lions,” Han­nah added.

“The stall­hold­ers who came out to sup­port the re­gion’s farm­ers were Sil­ver­spoon Es­tate, Shi­raz Re­pub­lic, Heath­cote Health, Woolsell, 3523 Fit­ness, Bendigo Fi­nan­cial Coun­selling Ser­vice and Mil­vine Es­tate,” she said.

WITH a packed room of her tar­get mar­ket Ru­ral Bank chief ex­ec­u­tive Alexan­dra Gart­mann used the Heath­cote farm­ers’ break­fast to de­liver her take on farm­ing – its econ­omy and its out­look.

Speak­ing to the McIvor Times af­ter the break­fast Ms Gart­mann said the sheer di­ver­sity of the Heath­cote re­gion’s agri­cul­tural in­dus­tries – from stud Merino breed­ing to viti­cul­ture and from live­stock and tra­di­tional broad­acre farm­ing – makes it an in­ter­est­ing case.

She said the mod­ern farmer might need to re­visit how they judged the value of their busi­ness.

“One of the best ways for farm­ers to prop­erly un­der­stand their true worth is to look at the value of their land­hold­ings,” Ms Gart­mann said.

“Our bank’s Aus­tralian Farm­land Value re­port, which has looked at the past 20 years of sales, and me­dian val­ues shows ru­ral land has per­formed very well in that time,” she said.

“It has recorded an­nual growth of 5.8 per cent – and that’s a me­dian per­for­mance, some land in spe­cific pro­duc­tion ar­eas has done much bet­ter.

North­ern Vic­to­ria, which cov­ers Heath­cote and Bendigo, has recorded an an­nual growth of 6.5 per cent since 1999.

“But at the same time the fig­ures con­firm that if you are in agri­cul­ture you are in for the long haul.

“Farm­land and quar­ter by quar­ter as­sess­ments do not, and prob­a­bly never will, match.”

Ms Gart­mann said the cat­tle mar­ket is cur­rently out­stand­ing; lamb and wool are just as good – lamb to the US is a huge ex­port mar­ket with plenty of scope to keep grow­ing.

“Fine Merino wool is now 22 per cent above its most re­cent five-year av­er­age and no-one can com­plain about that.”

She also boosted the lo­cal wine in­dus­try, now es­tab­lished in its own right and with a recog­nised ge­o­graph­i­cal in­di­ca­tor.

“Wine is ex­port­ing as much as 1.6 mil­lion tonnes of prod­uct each year and Vic­to­ria in gen­eral has a big slice of that and Heath­cote’s winer­ies are en­joy­ing an in­creas­ing share of this mar­ket dom­i­nance,” Ms Gart­mann said.

“And the lo­cal winer­ies who are value adding their pro­duc­tion, with a cel­lar, a cafe´ or what­ever cer­tainly helps get peo­ple to your front door and tast­ing your wines,” she said.

“The key for banks, in this dig­i­tal world, is to think with more in­no­va­tion, about part­ner­ships, in­vest­ments and eq­uity, to help our clients suc­ceed.’’

Meet the Lions, cater­ing ma­gi­cians for the day at the Heath­cote Farm­ers Break­fast.

Ba­con and eggs were on the menu at the Heath­cote Farm­ers Break­fast.

Peter Strange, men’s health nurse from Bendigo Com­mu­nity Health.

Ru­ral Bank chief ex­ec­u­tive Alexan­dra Gart­mann.

At­ten­dees browse the var­i­ous stalls at the farm­ers break­fast.

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