Force for good in farm­ing

Central and North Rural Weekly - - COLUMN - Ge­orgie Som­er­set AgForce gen­eral pres­i­dent

TAK­ING on the role of AgForce gen­eral pres­i­dent brings with it a great sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

I’ve had a long in­volve­ment with AgForce and mar­ried into a fam­ily steeped in the tra­di­tions of agri-rep­re­sen­ta­tion, so I know how im­por­tant it is to have an or­gan­i­sa­tion that stands up strongly for farm­ers.

It’s been re­ward­ing to have played my part in re­cent years to help im­prove AgForce’s gover­nance and or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­ture to en­sure we op­er­ate as ef­fec­tively as pos­si­ble to serve our mem­bers.

AgForce has also put in place a clear strate­gic plan to guide our fu­ture di­rec­tion with a clear pur­pose to “ad­vance sus­tain­able agribusi­ness”.

As the new AgForce gen­eral pres­i­dent, I’m very con­scious that the new board I lead over the next two years stands on the shoul­ders of those who have come be­fore us, that we ben­e­fit from the wis­dom of oth­ers and that we can’t do it all on our own.

It’s so pow­er­ful to have grass­roots pro­duc­ers com­ing up with so­lu­tions they think will work for them, both at the lo­cal and whole of in­dus­try level. That’s what feeds the pol­icy process at AgForce, and we are grate­ful for all the sup­port and in­put we re­ceive from both in­di­vid­ual mem­bers and elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Over the past two years, AgForce has shown real courage in our lead­er­ship and we won’t step back from that.

A key fo­cus for me will be to keep work­ing hard to build trust in agri­cul­ture.

There is no doubt con­sumers trust farm­ers and trust what we pro­duce, but we need to keep build­ing trust and un­der­stand­ing about how and what we need to do to pro­duce great food and fi­bre.

I also be­lieve it is crit­i­cal to look after and sup­port our peo­ple.

None of what we do hap­pens with­out peo­ple.

Crops don’t har­vest them­selves, cat­tle don’t muster them­selves, sheep don’t shear them­selves.

We need to sup­port our peo­ple on the land to en­sure they are there for the long term, to main­tain con­nec­tions, to en­sure they are phys­i­cally and men­tally healthy and to recog­nise their im­por­tant role in the com­mu­nity.

With our in­dus­try fac­ing ever-in­creas­ing reg­u­la­tions, we will be look­ing to do what we can to help our mem­bers to keep op­er­at­ing prof­itabil­ity and sus­tain­ably in this en­vi­ron­ment, and to en­sure changes de­liver ben­e­fits for our in­dus­try rather than neg­a­tives.

How farm­ers are re­warded for the valu­able ‘nat­u­ral cap­i­tal’ as­sets we look after for the en­tire com­mu­nity will also be a cru­cial is­sue mov­ing for­ward.

The work be­ing done by AgForce and NAB to an­a­lyse the link be­tween man­age­ment prac­tices, long-term land con­di­tions and fi­nan­cial per­for­mance is ex­tremely im­por­tant, as is the work be­ing done na­tion­ally to de­fine and show­case sus­tain­able beef pro­duc­tion.

It prom­ises to be an ex­cit­ing but chal­leng­ing two years in agri­cul­ture, and I’m look­ing for­ward to do­ing my bit to rep­re­sent farm­ers’ in­ter­ests, sup­port­ing our peo­ple and in­creas­ing com­mu­nity un­der­stand­ing of the im­por­tance of agribusi­ness.

PHOTO: DAVID KELLY

IM­POR­TANT ROLE: Ge­orgie Som­er­set, a Queens­land beef pro­ducer and ru­ral leader, is the new AgForce gen­eral pres­i­dent.

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