Getting past the ‘them’ and ‘us’

In February this year I was approached  by WWF to share a story for their new 2 Degrees Initiative

I said yes and you can read my story here

Perhaps not all farmers will be happy with me for a number of reasons. See footnote

WWF was recently described as  an “EXTREME green lobby group attacking Queensland farmers” by the Queensland Country Life when WWF launched this video.

But lets not forget at a basic level, farmers and WWF want the same thing – a sustainable environment that we leave in better shape than we found it. 

We have to acknowledge that we’re all this this together, we share the same planet.  We all want to support our population while leaving the smallest possible footprint.

Farmers are stewards of over 60% of Australia’s land mass. We take our role in managing that resource for future generations very seriously.  We all prioritise the well-being of our environment and animals in our day-to-day operations. Most farmers would have in place practices that respond to variations in climate, none of this is new.  But often, the only people who know about it are our neighbours – usually other farmers.

As a Climate Champion I have seen many amazing farmers doing incredible things for the environment. We need to celebrate this loudly.

It’s important for farmers to share our practices with audiences that may have some queries about the way we operate. I am committed to seeking out these people to engage in meaningful ways to create understanding and partnerships.  These people will not come to us. In many instances, they wouldn’t know where to look!  So by sharing my story with WWF, I am able to engage with an audience I may not normally encounter.  I am hopeful this will encourage a discussion around how farmers can work with everyone to build a future in which people and nature thrive.

working-together

For too long agriculture has promoted ourselves to agriculture. We need to expand our reach to engage all participants along our supply chains, to create awareness and understanding that will underpin sustainable production into the future. We cannot afford to turn out backs on those who may be uncomfortable with agriculture. They are too important to our future to ignore.

Footnote

Some interesting research on farmer attitudes to climate change found here 

Overcoming the climate change sceptics

Many primary producers are resistant to the challenges of climate change. In a study of Australia’s Farming Future the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, surveyed 1,000 farmers in relation to their attitudes towards climate change. They also surveyed 1,000 people from urban areas.

While 58% of the urban population believed climate change was real and caused by human activity, only 26% of primary producers held this view. As illustrated in the following diagram these farmer groups were segmented into different types of sceptic. Some were sceptical but had been hit by drought and therefore were prepared to start taking action. Others were sceptical and had not yet felt any environmental impacts so they felt no need to take action.

Primary producer segments in relation to climate change Donelley, Mercer, Dickson and Wu (2009)

The ‘strugglers’ were not only sceptical but had no resources to apply to any remedial action. Even those who accepted climate change science were of the view that government assistance was required to allow them to take action.

These attitudes amongst rural producers are important as they will determine how readily many farmers adopt more sustainable farming practices, reduce new land clearing and introduce programs such as enhanced biodiversity of cropping, interlocking crop cycles, dense polycultures, biochar and carbon management.

The best revenge is happiness

When I looked out the window this morning two hours after letting my chooks out I had a gut feeling today was not going to be a great day for soul.  And I was right (sadly) not a pretty sight when I ventured outside

IMG_4525

I wont be forgiving this fox anytime soon but I am not going to lump everyone in the same box as this creature so I  thought I would share this wonderful post from Bushbelles found here which adds to my series on Success is a Journey

7-let-go-and-forgive

 

So talking about forgiveness (you weren’t?  Hmm maybe that was me).  We all have times when traumatic and difficult (crazy, bizarre) things happen to us (or our children).

Its a process (believe me), but here are some great ways to hopefully, eventually, when enough time has passed to forgive and move on.

Some snapshots

Stop trying for a while

 

If you’re trying hard and haplessly making zero progress, stop trying. 

Stop trying and start being.

Instead of believing that you are not there yet, be grateful that you are right where you are meant to be at this moment.

Yes, by all means set goals and take steps in the right direction, but don’t disregard the steps as you take them – these steps are your life’s story. 

Love

Feeling sorry for yourself and sabotaging the present moment with resentful thoughts of the past won’t make anything better.  Hurting someone else will never ease your own inner angst.
If you’re disappointed with yourself or frustrated with someone else, the answer is not to take it out on the world around you. 

Forgive the past, forgive yourself, forgive others, and love the present moment for what it’s worth. 

There are plenty of beautiful things to love right now; you just have to want to see them. 

Loving is never easy, especially when times are tough, yet it is easily the most powerful and positively enduring action possible.

If you’re feeling pain, don’t take action that creates even more pain.

Don’t try to cover darkness with darkness. 

Find the light. 

Do something that will enable you to move forward toward a more fulfilling reality. 

There is always something good you can do. 

Fill your heart with it and act in everyone’s best interest, especially your own.

 

Seek positive revenge by living well (I love this one)

 

Are you contemplating revenge? 

You know that’s a negative thinking getting the best of you. 

However, there is a way to seek revenge positively.

How?  Forget about them.  Remember you. 

The bottom line is that the best revenge is happiness, because nothing drives your adversaries more insane than seeing a fresh smile on your face.

and the Pièce de résistance

If all else fails go shopping

 

Original  inspiration found here

Which one will you feed

I have posted two blogs in the last 24 hours about young women in agriculture who where inspired by their grandfathers. So not surprisingly this tweet from Young Farming Champion Hannah Barber caught my eye.

Hannah Barber 

and that quote that has had so much influence on Hannah’s life

two wolves

I have found as you travel life’s journey, you will meet many inspiring people who will give you wise advice. Its what you then do with that wise advice that determines how smart you are  

A wise woman recently said to me ‘You can never have too much passion but too much emotion can get in the way”

So I am feeding my passion and putting my emotion on a diet

Fertilise the Tall Poppies

It’s that time of year when awards that celebrate our Australian farmers and the people who support them are opening for nominations.

As a person who has been lucky enough to win some of these awards and benefited greatly from the exposure they bring I have also witnessed the impact on my family of the pressure to “live up” to microscope they feel they are under.

Whilst the naysayers don’t interest me, I do understand when quiet achievers like my husband and son would prefer not to be in the spotlight. My son in particular finds the derogatory comments from some of the local farmers hard to take and I find that very sad.

I remember vividly attending the 2010 National Landcare Awards and being so excited when we won and then turning to my husband who said ‘You collect the award I don’t think what we do is any different to thousands of farmers across Australia’. But I knew differently, it’s not how you farm that counts, its how what you do translates into a community good benefit that counts.

I stood tall and proudly accepted because I knew what we did was something to be proud of.

My speech went something like this

Today most media in Australia generated around food is about cooking and eating, recipes and restaurants, with little attention paid to the origins of the key ingredients.

At Clover Hill Dairies we haven’t been fooled into thinking people don’t care.

We believe meeting or exceeding the community’s expectations to deliver affordable, nutritious and ethically produced food is doing the right thing by our business and our customers

There are plenty of Australian farmers committed to ethical food production… JUST AS WE ARE 

But there are some things we are equally passionate about that sets us apart

Beyond best farming practices we are dedicated to

  • Building lifelong relationships between city consumers and rural providers. Because it is these urban communities who will decide the future for primary produces either as consumers, governments and decision makers or as competitors for Australia’s natural resources and workforce. The next generation of consumers and decision makers must see responsible agricultural production as a legitimate use of land, water and other resources.
  • Encouraging and furnishing opportunities for young people to enter food value chain career pathways
  • Forging cross community partnerships to secure our social licence to operate and right to farm   

Winning this very prestigious award offers us the very best possible platform to build on this passion – thank you so much for opening this door

In 2013 I would make a very different speech and I would be less nervous because my journey since that night has been so exciting and so fulfilling and I have so much more confidence and met so many wonderful people who are sharing my journey. One thing that hasn’t changed is I would be just as proud.

Most excitingly there was some-one in the audience who heard me speak and believed in my Young Farming Champions concept and invested in it (thank you Ken)

I recently had an email from a young lady inspired by one of these young farming champions to take up a career in agriculture

It is absolutely beyond my wildest dreams to communicate with young farmers (of their nature) and have been so fortunate to be in brief contact with Richie Quigley after being sent his Art4Agriculture video and contacting him and being mentored by him towards the most appropriate university degree for me next year – his input has been invaluable.

We are far from perfect farmers but what our farm has done very well is to open the door to invite the next generation to visit and experience what we do which one of the Art4agriculutre Young Eco Champions Erin shows so beautifully here. 

 

We do need a new way of thinking about agriculture. We need farmers who are prepared to work beyond traditional boundaries and challenge the conventional thinking of primary industries and individuals.

We need a paradigm shift in thinking and a collaborative re-allocation of resources and responsibilities

We must be able to deploy agriculture’s young people like Richie and Erin into schools to build relationships with the next generation of consumers.

So if you know some-one who has a big picture vision for agriculture then nominate them for awards.

As an industry

‘we can inspire and motivate and galvanise our people or we can ridicule and sap energy from them. Its our choice’  Derek Antoncich

Lets celebrate our farmers sharing their stories beyond the farm gate

Nominate some-one you know today 

Farmer of the Year Awards http://www.farmingahead.com.au/FarmerOfYear

You have enemies? Celebrate

Jas Hannah and Steph

I recently had a conversation with the dynamo that is Catherine Marriott and the topic of driving change in agriculture came up and that led to a discussion about how lonely it can be when at times the words of your detractors drown out those of your supporters

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. Winston Churchill

In creating the Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions program one of the key things that drove me was the overwhelming desire to provide support for the changemakers. We all know that that driving change often galvanises those who desperately don’t want change.

Whilst the change resistors don’t represent the majority their fear of change can be so draining and so vocal you often allow them to question your judgement and cloud your vision for the future.

Believe me you can never overestimate the power of surrounding yourself with positive people you can learn from.

Catherine has a great passion to drive change and harness the energy of rural women and I feel the same about young people in agriculture .

To empower and provide rural women with the skills sets to be the change that must happen in agriculture Catherine has set up Influential  Women

In Catherine words

Influential Women is a movement that creates conversations that connect urban and rural Australia by building confidence, capacity and skills in rural and regional women. Currently, rural Australia has a huge opportunity to connect with our customers, as people are becoming more interested in how their food is produced. We need to take advantage of this interest by being engaging, fun, informative and innovative in our communication and this communication needs to be two way. As farmers, we have so much to share and are so passionate about what we do, but we haven’t historically been very good at communicating this.

The concept behind the Influential Women’s came from watching the live trade ban unfold. I started to reflect on the agricultural conversations that had been happening across the board and realised that we are under increasing consumer scrutiny. It doesn’t matter if you are in the chicken industry where there are questions about the cages are cages, the pig industry with sow stalls, the grains industry with GM or the beef industry with hormones and live export, we are all facing consumer pressure. The time has come for us all to be a part of the conversation. If we aren’t, the space will be taken by people who have an ill-informed, agenda driven opinion that is anti farming.and it mostly comes from ill-informed groups with a negative agricultural agenda.

Now as farmers, I believe we have nothing to hide, we need to share what we do on our farms openly and most importantly why we do certain things. We need to be proud of what we do in agriculture and share it with an intrigued and interested consumers and celebrate the roles that we play in providing the Australian public with safe healthy and nutritious food and fibre.

As farmers we need to have a voice……. and that voice needs to be constant, articulate and concise, friendly, engaging…. and delivered regularly.

How exciting is it for me to find some-one equally determined to not only drive change but most importantly invest in it .

At every opportunity I find ways and means of exposing our Young Farming Champions to the like-minded networks that Catherine gathers around her at her workshops.

In the words of Beef Young Farming Champion Hannah Barber who attended an Influential Women’s workshop recently in Holbrook

Having heard of Influential Women and the fantastic work this organisation does to connect and empower rural women, I was very grateful to the Holbrook Landcare group for their sponsorship to attend a workshop. Flanked by two other Young Farming Champions Steph Fowler and Jasmine Nixon, we met a range of impressive women of all ages, from all backgrounds involved in a variety of industries with one thing in common, our love for agriculture. Of these amazing women, leading the way forward was facilitator Catherine Marriot, who, teamed with her mother Cath, make up the very aptly named Influential Women.

Catherine’s talent as a presenter and facilitator are matched by her personal warmth and genuine desire to help rural women be the best they can be. Nearly every break Catherine forwent the casual conversation and refreshments to personally connect with & continue conversations with attendees.

After lunch on day one, a bare-footed Catherine presented a vital section on social media, something Steph, Jasmine and I were able to assist other women in the room to connect to, and understand the various social media avenues. The isolation of our rural societies was in the past, a major issue and blockade in the quest for farmers to connect with each other and consumers, thanks to the development of the internet and social media we now have the opportunity to be heard in our cities and have our issues recognised and addressed; we have a voice and united we can achieve great things as we have seen particularly over this past month.

I walked away from the Influential Women’s workshop very proud of our rural women, the Art4Agriculture program and with a virtual schoolbag of skills and knowledge I will be able to apply to various sectors of my personal and professional life. The networking of talented and driven women at the workshop and the guidance of Catherine who makes herself unreservedly available to workshop alumni, made the Influential Women’s workshop a very worthwhile way to spend my first two days of uni holidays and I highly recommend the workshops to women of all ages, abilities and industries, you will gain friendships and knowledge guaranteed.

and this from Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion Steph Fowler

Over the years I have done personality profiling type exercises and have long known that I am an extreme extravert, intuitive, thinker, perceiver or ENTP in Myers Briggs. While I have known what it means for my personal strengths and benefits, I haven’t seen how to apply this knowledge in a social context. Until the Influential Woman’s workshop in Holbrook that is. During the Myers Briggs session at the workshop, once we had all figured out our personality types, Catherine divided us into opposing types for the different sections and gave us a task which highlighted the differences. For me this opened up a whole new world where suddenly I can identify what I can do for other people to help them get what they need out of a situation rather than just allowing my own personality to dominate, objectify and focus on the big picture. The Myers Briggs personality type was one session out of many that provided not only the knowledge but also enabled us to apply it within our context and to things that were relevant to us. I gained so much out of this applied approach to the sessions and after spending two days with some of my fellow country woman who are all amazing in their own right, I am now more empowered and motivated than ever.

Catherine and the rural women who attend her workshops and the Young Farming Champions inspire me to get out of bed everyday, block the detractors from my mind and celebrate change. I salute you  all

 

Kudos where kudos is due Woolworths

This post is a salute to Woolworths. You might just be surprised where they are investing some of their profits.

3 Serves of dairy

And that’s just the cows!

Imagine the amount of land!

The people!

The infrastructure!

Supporting business!

The technology!

It takes to get your dairy products from cow to consumer!

Yes we all have to eat and that alone means that agriculture is not only important but vital.

Yet agriculture faces new challenges every day, including activist groups who see livestock farmers as the right hand of devil.

The key to debunking myth conceptions about modern agricultural  farming practices starts with the education sector. The key to success begins with partnering with the 250,000 teachers teaching the 3.5 million students in the 9,500 Australian schools.

Yogurt grows on trees

Once we have excited some of these 3.5 million students to consider careers in the agrifood sector, it is imperative that we deliver on the promise in order to retain them. Sadly we don’t do this well enough

Like our individual food and fibre industries, we need a better “supply chain” for young people to develop skills that enable them to engage, grow and take charge of their industries.

Currently, we see a number of programs aimed at developing individuals at various stages in life, but many lack the mechanisms to support and mentor and galvanize these people into roles that have meaning within our industries, in the medium to longer term.

There is no point training young people if we then abandon them; believing our job is done after holding workshops and camps for them.

If we don’t continue to develop our young people, we lose a generation of leaders, innovators and workers as they seek opportunities elsewhere.

There will be no-one to take over the farm, or work in our agribusinesses.

Excitingly we don’t have to start at the beginning. There is a great pathway in place. All it needs is more agricultural industries supporting it

clip_image004

This diagram identifies cross industry supported programs whose core business is developing next gen agricultural ambassadors, workforce and leaders  

This post is salute to Woolworths who is heavily investing in this space, albeit I am given to understand not as much as they have in the past.

I have spent a bit of time at Woolworths and yes there people who work there who are only driven by $ in the till and $ in shareholders pockets which ultimately mean $ in their pockets.

There also a lot of people at Woolworths who truly care about farmers. I know because I have met them and they walk the talk.

To help to develop and nurture Next Gen Ag Leaders Woolworths run a yearly program called the Woolworths Agricultural Business Scholarship Program (WABSP) offering 24 young people in agriculture between the ages of 18 and 35 the chance to attend

The course is practical as well as theoretical, and covers topics such as:  

• Business strategy and planning

• Agricultural value chain

• Successful business leadership

• Business finance

• Logistics and supply chain management

• The role of government

• Understanding retail

• Sustainability and environmental issues

• Personal development

You only have to see what the alumni have to say to see the potential outcomes it can deliver

At Art4Agriculture, an important part of our mission is to link our Young Farming Champions alumni with further opportunities within their industry and beyond to continue the journey of growth and leadership.

We actively encourage our Young Farming Champions to apply for the WABSP

2013 Art4Agriculture/Target 100 Beef Young Farming Champion Jasmine Nixon attended in 2012

Jasmine Nixon

Jasmine applied because she wanted to gain an increased understanding of the end consumer through broadening her industry knowledge and the paddock to plate concept.

Working in the quality control and assurance team at Teys Australia’s Wagga abattoir, which supplies meat products to Woolworths and other major supermarket chains Jasmine was looking forward to learning more about the end consumer and what is trending.

The meat industry is facing significant challenges and there is a greater focus on meeting the demands of the customer and gaining a better understanding of them – this is something that Jasmine feels is crucial to her role and the success of the company.

She saw the Woolworths Agricultural Business Scholarship program is about filling the knowledge gap and learning more about the supply chain and the logistical challenge of supplying fresh food to the nation.

Extract from http://www.beefcentral.com/p/news/article/2131

As the Australian farmers face all kinds of unrelenting changes in their environment, there is a need for individuals who are capable of turning strategy into reality.

There is a great “supply chain” for young people to help them develop skills that enable them to engage, grow and take charge of their industries.

Is your industry supporting it?

See Next Gen Ag Leaders Pathway supporting partners here

PIEF

PICSE

Horizon Scholarship Program

Art4Agriculture plus NSW Farmers who have just signed on and you can find our community Partners here

Woolworths Agribusiness Scholarship Program

Climate Champions This page needs updating Dairy Australia has withdrawn and AWI have come on board

ARLP

Nuffield

If you take the time to look you will notice some industries and supply chain partners pop up in every single one or almost.

Sadly the dairy industry is very much missing in action

What about the supermarkets who rely so heavily on our farmers.

Did you see Coles? No I don’t thinks so. But you may have noticed Woolworths directly sponsors 4 of the 7 and has provided support to another two in the past and commits more than $140K per year to its own Woolworths Agribusiness Scholarship Program

Kudos where kudos is due I say

Just before I go Here is another great idea Woolworths from one of our Young Farming Champions Kylie Stretton who has certainly crowd sourced for you here 

This post is another in the series. “Success is the journey not the destination and it’s the people you partner with that determine how fast you get there and how rewarding it will be”