Keep the connections strong
BEING the president of a peak farming body like the TFGA has afforded me many opportunities.
The role is what you make it of course but, if you do it right, it allows you a unique insight into the true diversity of the Tasmanian agricultural sector — the highs and the lows, the challenges and the victories.
My big challenge is balancing the demands of the role with running a farm business.
Last week I travelled to King Island to mark the 20th anniversary of the King Island Beef Producers Group, and enjoy a dose of island hospitality and a quick game of golf.
It was a great event and congratulations to Rod Graham and Roger Clemons for becoming the inaugural life members of the very active island group.
King Island farmers are amazing. The value that they achieve out of production space that equates to not much more than 60km by 25km is outstanding, and in many cases the envy of other producers around Tasmania. But like other producers, they also face their challenges.
Freight and the issues surrounding it have plagued the island for some time now. The TFGA has always worked closely with our members and the Government to tackle the area’s unique transit challenges.
The new interim vessel, due early next year, is an important first step. We hope that the larger vessel also translates to lower freight costs.
While King Island and my own farm here at Meander are both reaping the benefits of decent rainfall, the challenges faced by our members and colleagues in the south and east of the state are increasing as a dry autumn and winter turn into a tough spring and summer.
A phone call from a southern-based member highlighted that things have gone from bad to worse in his area. The daily stresses of having to irrigate early and feeding out are being compounded by the fact that there is still a long hot summer ahead. We know that these conditions are being replicated elsewhere. This member asked us to make sure the government, the public and other farmers are made aware of the situation; that they get the message that the time for action is fast approaching.
The TFGA is already having discussions at a state and federal level about what contingency plans should be in place.
We also emphasise the need for Rural Alive and Well’s services to continue to be fully funded throughout the state. This service is a vital tool for our rural communities when times are tough.
It’s never easy to put up your hand and say, “I need help”. But, in the best interests of your families, your businesses, your communities and the Tasmanian economy I urge you to do so.
It is our job to advocate for members who are facing sometimes insurmountable challenges. Whether it be advocating on freight issues, fighting for rural relief, or merely being an understanding ear with advice on who best to turn to when times get tough. It is the beauty of being a part of a membership organisation — you do not have to face your challenges alone.