About Farming Ahead of the Curve

This blog will share farming stories from our family farm Clover Hill Dairies. What you will discover however is that farming today is so much more that growing food and fibre. By opening the door to my role in our family business I am hoping you will gain greater insights into the passion and committment of the people and the places behind the land that produces our food and hands that grow it

Being part of a democracy means you have a voice. Lets find our voices and be heard.

Farmers know they are part of the planet and we do what we believe is right.

Acknowledging climate change is real is doing the right thing.

Minimising its impact is doing the right thing

Cimate Changre is real

Australians know they are part of a democracy and we have a voice.

For too long we have remained silent.

Join me and find your voice and have it heard

Sign our farmers letter here and show the world and our politicians we all care

Read why Milk Maid Marian has joined the movement to start an outbreak of common-sense here 

Are you the centre of the universe and blame everyone else for your problems?

After spending two days at the WOW Festival I realised what a sheltered life I have led with my Methodist mindset upbringing – Still can’t believe I chose the ‘Lets Talk about Sex’ session

Krissy Kneen

Krissy Kneen writer of Erotic Fiction or as she prefers to call her genre Feminist Porn reads from her latest book

I had the opportunity to listen to a very diverse and inspiring range of women speakers doing amazing things – the ‘What Women Fight For’ session was a great example. Women who devote their lives to work in what is often no-win situations

‘I feel like I spend my life mopping floors and the tap is still running’

I also had the opportunity to be a mentor in two speed mentoring sessions. I am a pretty confident I got more out of those sessions than the mentees did. Firstly I think I actually learnt how to actively listen, secondly I found out I am not alone and many people struggle with the same issues I do and thirdly I can only actively listen for so long.  After the Speed Mentoring session I was meeting the wonderful woman (and she is wonderful) who is facilitating my session today. It’s just as well she is a good listener because she got my life story before we had even sat down.

The take home message for me yesterday was you can choose to have two different mindsets

You can say

I am the centre of the universe and I blame everyone else for my problems

OR

I am part of the universe and I do what I believe is right

Good advice for agriculture methinks

Channelling my inner feminism with agriculture’s most important audience

Over the next few days I will be channelling my inner feminism and meeting and sitting on the stage with some of the truly amazing women who have driven change in this country and as I found out today for a great deal the journey has been very rugged indeed

I have been invited to be the positive voice of agriculture and did I jump at the chance when I was asked

WOW what an opportunity to have two way conversations with the most pivotal audience for agriculture and that is highly educated women.

Why you ask?.  Well all the social research tells us that highly educated women are the demographic who most distrust farmers. When highly educated women don’t trust farmers they vote with their feet and wallets. The social researchers call this CRITICAL ACTIVISM. They are also the demographic most likely to support farmers when they trust them. This is called SOCIAL ACTIVISM

Today I got to share a session with Kathy Lette – the highly charismatic, fun and cheeky queen of one liners.

Kathy Lette

“Women are like wonder bras – they are supportive and uplifting and make us look bigger and better”

“Women are the future but they still get concussion on the glass ceiling and are expected to clean it whilst they are up there”

“Never turn down an opportunity. Never turn down an adventure”

Kathy and I were mentors in a speed mentoring event. As part of this I got to have conversations with five young women under 35 all doing very diverse and exciting things. The take home message for me was in 4 out of 5 of those 15 minute sessions concern about chemicals in food came up.

I learnt young highly educated women are very worried about chemicals in food.  2 out of 5 said they loved farmers and support them at every chance they get.

Interestingly enough my experience today completely mirrored the social licence research on the community’s thoughts and perceptions about farmers in this country. Highly educated concerned women are twice as likely to vote with their feet and wallets when they distrust farmers but half as like to actively support farmers when they trust them.

But putting this into context whilst men in general are not Critical Activists they are not Supportive Activists either

And of course lets not forget why women are even more important to farmers they are the demographic who in the main make the purchasing decisions

So for the next three days agriculture gets a voice with its most important audience – no wonder this little black duck said YES PLEASE BRING IT ON

What do you know about Australian food production and consumption?

What do you know about Australian food production and consumption?

Well it would appear that I know bugger all if my answers or lack of to this quizz are anything to go by

It always fascinates me when we throw a heap of statistics around like this. The statistics certainly show agriculture’s value to the economy. But the economy doesn’t feed us and clothe us and put a roof over our heads – people do.  Surely community knowledge about food production and consumption shouldn’t be defined by numbers that one should store in a corner of the brain and bring out at dinner parties. Knowledge about food production and consumption should be about what the people who buy it care about .

Surely the types of questions we should be asking are things like Is our food safe? Is it affordable? Is it nutritious?  Do our farmers care about the environment and their animals

In light of the recent BSE scare in Ireland what i know is its time to change the dialogue around food and fibre production and consumption.

I for one am damned proud to know the things our customers want to know and that is our food is safe. Its is affordable. It is nutritious and any farmer who doesn’t care about the environment and their animals should find another occupation.

Heres looking at you babeThese girls don’t care about numbers. They just want to be loved and respected and protected from the heat and the cold and be fed delicious, nutritious and safe food.

It we want people to start thinking about food and fibre and how they truly value it in a different way then we need to change the conversation.

Just like the cows, our customers want the same things we do and that’s what the Australian food production and consumption knowledge discussion should be all about.

Dairy farmers making hay while the sun shines

I am watching the forecasts for 2016 Australian farmgate milk price with great interest. Dairy Step Up forecast as processors compete for milk.

harvest Linda Faiers

Photo by Linda Faiers 

It is well known that Australian dairy farmers see costs of production – labor, energy and quality feed for their cows as their biggest inputs cost challenge.  High milk prices and low costs of production certainly mean happy days and provides the genuine quality of life for their families and their cows and necessary incentive to remain in business for the long haul.

Beyond the fairy tale it is also generally recognized Australia has one of the highest labour costs in the world and competing on costs of production alone in the world dairy stage is becoming almost impossible

At the moment Australian milk price forecasts are being predicted based on competition for milk supply between Australian milk processors rather than the traditional focus on international milk prices. Common sense says you can only pay what you can get out of the market place but then of course you cant sell what you don’t have!

2008023

Whilst I love to hear stories that sell hope rather than despair I would be very interested to hear from an industry financial whiz on the current maintain the farmgate milk price strategy irrespective of international markets .

Are these milk prices sustainable for Australian processors selling product into the international market place. Is this strategy likely to drag us into the black hole of Calcutta or will it truly fast-track us all on the road to the promised land?

Wow How impressive does this new tool for dairy farmers look

milkey-logoTake control of your milk price

A FREE web-based tool that lets dairy farmers COMPARE milk prices across participating processors

Celebrating Wool – from the sheep’s back to yours

Its Wool Week and I was in Sydney yesterday and just couldn’t walk past this window without feeling proud to be part of the team that helps bring this product from the sheep’s back to you MJ Bale Sydney CBD And of course I had to do more than just admire the window so I popped in and made a little purchase for myself. Believe me I could have made quite a few more

IMG_2204a couple of gorgeous merino wool scarves have now joined my winter wardrobe 

  Today 99% of the Australian wool clip is sold at retail overseas and indeed..

Australian wool has come a long way since it first touched our shores. In 200 years it has been transformed from a short fibre into one as smooth as silk and as soft as cashmere. Its true strength lies in its versatility. Merino wool is as superb on the catwalk as it is on the sports field. It has warped, worsted and woven itself into the halls of high fashion and is used by designers right across the world.

This year Craig and Wendy Taylor of Redblue architecture and design had the chance to work on this innovative and noble fibre as part of AWI’s Wool Week display at the Macquarie Centre

Macquarie Centre has been chosen to celebrate ideas, new creations and the infinite possibilities of Wool througout the Centre in May. In collaboration with The Campaign for Wool they will showcase Woolmark’s 2015 Campaign – “I wool if you wool”.

Check out some of Craig and Wendy’s clever designs

image9

image3

image4

Wendy and Craig had six weeks to bring this wonderful showcase of Australian wool together, using the many different textures and different techniques that are available to use with wool. You will see Macrame, weaving, plaiting, knitting, stringart to name just a few. Wendy said it was totally exhilarating to be able to work with the diversity of wool fabrics and yarns that are available today.

We used wool yarn from 1 ply to 120 ply. The 1 ply was so fine it was like a spider web. We used a range of wool fabrics including Wool top, felt and prefelt

Wool is breathable, renewable and wearable and so beautiful to work with

As part of their brief Wendy and Craig were asked to also showcase the work of designer Felicity Gleeson who has an AWI Fashion Scholarship. Wendy was very moved by Felicity’s beautiful designs that Wendy described as part fabric and part sculpture

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

and the piece de resistance Wendy and Craig we able to create their own flock of 36 sheep to be the ‘flock to frock’ stars of the fashion floor

Also kicking goals for the wool industry is the Fibre of Football campaign 

I just love the videos that showcase the farmer faces of the product as well as our footballing heroes from rich agricultural roots

and how good is this? To me the quote of the year

behind every successful man is an astonished woman

and how mind blowing  is this

Join us on a trans-formative journey as together we  follow a single piece of fleece in pursuit of its family. From the shearing sheds of the Australian outback, to the ancient weaving mills of Yorkshire, discover how modern technologies and age-old techniques combine to transform fleece into fashion. Read more at http://www.merino.com/wool/lost-and-f…

and remember when you get the chance Choose Natural 

Agriculture to sell hope not despair

When given the choice between hope and despair, it is a fact that hope is the attitude most likely to support, encourage, and even create a positive outcome. Despair energizes only the things we fear.

When I was looking for a graphic to help tell this story I came across this very compelling image and I am still in two minds as to whether it’s too confronting (will ruminate on this)

garden_of_hope_and_despair_by_virgard-d30cadx

Garden of Hope and Despair by Virgard 

From an early age growing up on the farm I learnt that too often agriculture sells despair in preference to hope and as I grew older and more committed to giving back to the landscape that feeds and clothes us I found myself gravitating towards people in the natural resource management sector who always sell hope.

Agriculture is changing the way it portrays itself and that change is being driven by our many bright minds coming up through the ranks in Gen X&Y agrifood and fibre

Rural and social entrepreneur Josh Gilbert who is also Chair of NSW Young Farmers is a great example of a young person in our sector who is selling hope and raking in the rewards for both himself and the sector at large

Josh is now looking for agriculture’s rockstars to join him in spreading the great stories of agriculture that inspire while fostering innovation and breaking down the existing silo’s within agriculture via his newest venture Tractor Talks.

Tractor Talks

Tractor Talks is a really great opportunity to showcase people who have new and exciting ideas and are leading the way and can inspire others. We need a huge shift away from the negative culture stereotypical stories that hinder progression, new thinking and self-pride.

It’s a great platform to listen to on the go and I really hope it serves as an incubator for agricultural innovation. I want a beef farmer to hear what an oyster grower is doing and think- we could apply something similar in our industry. I want a young farmer to hear that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that people have succeeded from similar backgrounds. And what I really want most is for the podcast to help draw people together, as one united industry right around the world…… says Josh

To kick-start his journey and give him added confidence that others believe in his ideas Josh has been announced as a 2015 Young Social Pioneers (YSP) scholarship awardee for Tractor Talks. You can listen to the first episode HERE

Via this article in The Land

Passionate youth agriculture advocate Josh says  “Tractor Talks is designed to tell agriculture’s exciting stories and encourage other farmers with innovative ideas and great stories to get involved and be stars of their own success stories,” Josh said.

Now on  iTunes the Tractor Talks podcast will feature interviews with successful and inspiring agricultural professionals, exploring their motivations, industry visions and practical tips for farmers across a broad range of business and farming topics.

Josh’s YSP scholarship, sponsored by Optus, will see him take part in three residential touchpoints in Sydney. Alongside 49 other Pioneers he’ll connect with experts who provide support to amplify Tractor Talks, build networks of support and develop business skills and capabilities to drive a successful, purpose-driven venture.

The program is an initiative of The Foundation for Young Australians and supports Australia’s best and brightest emerging young change-makers: social innovators, thought leaders and entrepreneurs.

Josh said the networking, mentoring and the chance to take home $10,000 in seed funding make the scholarship a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“There is also the opportunity to get nationwide publicity, which is essential in sharing great agricultural stories with our consumers and the world,” he said.

Josh is looking forward to being inspired at the touchpoint sessions.

“I think it’s going to be a great way to ensure that Tractor Talks remains relatable to the general public, while also keeping the agricultural messages and tips at the podcast’s core,” he said.

“Connecting with 49 great minds from across the country is more than I could have ever wished for. This makes the whole course a great experience, along with the opportunity to change aspects of Australian life and be a part of the exciting Australian start-up scene.”

The first Tractor Talks podcast will showcase Liverpool Plains farmers and founders of ‘The Conscious Farmer’ beef brand Derek and Kirrily Blomfield.

Josh is a role model to all generations in agriculture, his passion, commitment and motivation is something we can all aspire to. He recognises the importance of and grabs every opportunity to cultivate influential community partnerships for the best outcomes for youth in agriculture.

Josh is selling hope and the world is buying .

CALL TO ACTION: If you know one of agriculture’s rockstars whose story will inspire others by featuring on Tractor Talks Josh wants to talk to you

Contact Josh Gilbert

Email: contact@gilbertjoshuam.com

Mobile: 0432 260 024.

Twitter:    #agrockstars

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TractorTalks/