Ready for ad­vo­cacy

Shepparton News - Country News - - OPINION -

Craig Em­mett from Stan­hope has taken on the role of vi­cepres­i­dent for the West Goul­burn branch of United Dairy Farm­ers of Vic­to­ria af­ter a trip to New Zealand ear­lier this year in­spired him to be­come in­volved in ad­vo­cacy.

He will be work­ing along­side Rob Schloss from Stan­hope, who is the branch pres­i­dent.

Mr Em­mett said he felt it was time to start tak­ing more of an in­ter­est in the in­dus­try he is so pas­sion­ate about.

‘‘I at­tended the UDV study tour in Fe­bru­ary and I was sur­prised and im­pressed by their dairy in­dus­try com­pared to Aus­tralia’s. Of course they have had en­vi­ron­men­tal and an­i­mal right pres­sures which have forced them to be­come more or­gan­ised, but as an in­dus­try they just seem so much more united,’’ he said.

‘‘I worked as an agron­o­mist be­fore I came back home on the farm in 2014. I love dairy­ing, I love be­ing my own boss and it is not just a ca­reer for me, it’s that old cliche´ — it’s also a life­style.’’

Agron­omy has given Mr Em­mett a solid back­ground and he is cer­tainly look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge of tak­ing over the fam­ily farm in the fu­ture.

He is the fourth gen­er­a­tion to farm on the fam­ily prop­erty Shen­stone that was first set­tled by his great-grand­fa­ther W.H. Em­mett in 1917.

Mr Em­mett farms with his par­ents Gordon and Lyn, milk­ing 200 cows.

The busi­ness is cur­rently in the process of go­ing or­ganic.

‘‘Turn­ing or­ganic guar­an­tees us a fu­ture. We have six months to go and we are cer­tainly look­ing for­ward to get­ting our first or­ganic milk cheque,’’ Mr Em­mett said.

The busi­ness has been guar­an­teed a min­i­mum price of $8/kg MS.

Craig said he and his fa­ther had al­ways been in­ter­ested in sus­tain­abil­ity and they had been think­ing about or­gan­ics for quite a while.

They had al­ready stopped us­ing syn­thetic fer­tilis­ers and af­ter they joined pro­ces­sor ACM, it seemed like a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for their busi­ness.

‘‘We were lucky enough to join ACM just be­fore Fon­terra dropped the milk price back in 2016,’’ Mr Em­mett said.

‘‘ACM has a lot of sup­port and in­for­ma­tion for their sup­pli­ers so we de­cided to go ahead and turn or­ganic. We have six months to go un­til we are cer­ti­fied and I have been amazed how much our soil’s health has im­proved and how well the pad­docks bounce back af­ter graz­ing now.

‘‘Once you get the soils and nu­tri­ents right you don’t seem to have too many is­sues.’’

He said travers­ing the con­ver­sion pe­riod had not been too dif­fi­cult.

‘‘We just have to farm a lit­tle dif­fer­ently when it comes to lay­ing out pad­docks. When we ren­o­vate pas­ture we ob­vi­ously can’t spray Roundup, we have to work the soil up and I am think­ing we might need to get some sort of deep rip­ping disc in the fu­ture.’’

Mr Em­mett said the big­gest con­cern when it came to or­gan­ics was find­ing a protein source.

By the end of sum­mer they should have 20 ha of lucerne es­tab­lished.

They are cur­rently milk­ing off 70 ha but Mr Em­mett is hop­ing that once ev­ery­thing is lasered that fig­ure will be up about 100 ha.

‘‘We are aim­ing to grow as much fod­der as we can our­selves and down the track we might even look at grow­ing some grain.’’

The fam­ily has an ad­di­tional 40 ha that is used for young stock and hay.

In 2014 the fam­ily mod­ernised the farm’s ir­ri­ga­tion in­fra­struc­ture through the on-farm ir­ri­ga­tion ef­fi­ciency pro­gram.

‘‘I would do the works again but in hind­sight I would buy back the 100 Ml of wa­ter we gave up — wa­ter is just so valu­able to north­ern Vic­to­rian dairy farm­ers.’’

On the farm . . . Some of the herd at Craig Em­mett’s Stan­hope farm.

New role . . . Stan­hope dairy farmer Craig Em­mett is look­ing for­ward to his role as vice-pres­i­dent of the West Goul­burn branch of the UDV.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.