Are MacDonald’s saying humans are more important than chooks ???

I am just not quite sure what to say about this

MCDONALD’S restaurants in the United States will begin serving meat from chickens that are not raised with antibiotics used to treat humans.

Because the struggling fast-food chain is one of the largest buyers of chicken in the United States – McDonald’s sells more chicken than beef – the move is likely to have a big impact on the way poultry is raised and the type of chicken served by restaurants.

The shift to chicken that was largely antibiotic-free would be phased in over two years, the company said.  See story here

In essence are MacDonald’s saying people are more important than animals?

Are they saying people are allowed lifesaving antibiotics but chooks aren’t?

In Australia the types of antibiotics that can be given to animals are very restricted. It’s always been humans come first.

It’s an interesting world we live in full of first world double standards

I was a community pharmacist once and a farmer second

Yes the use of antibiotics by farmers and veterinarians does need to be tightened up but we have far too many people and doctors who need to have a big rethink about the way they pop and prescribe antibiotics first.

Lets start where the real problem is and don’t punish the animals because the humans stuffed up


Are MacDonald’s saying humans are more important than chooks or are retailers forcing industry practice changes because they are both in tune with consumer views and preferences as well as shaping those views and preferences for marketing differentiation purposes.?

Learning from the past to get better outcomes for this generation of farmers

I used to be a quiet achiever in the world of pharmacy.  Today I have a fairly high profile in the world of Australian agriculture. I make a lot of noise and fight what I believe is the good fight to get a fair return for our farmers. I am not always the most popular person in the room and it’s not easy. I have learnt the hard way it’s a journey ( a long journey) It’s not how much noise you make it’s how you make the noise and who you bring with you along the way that counts

For 25 years of my life I was a community pharmacist working in the main to help support the family dairying farming business. Pharmacy is a rewarding profession even when you were like me quietly putting labels on bottles, researching drug interactions, advising how best to treat burns and talking to customers. Pharmacists have the knowledge and the compassion to guide people through the quagmire and frustration that can be the world of hospitals, multiple medications and the desire to get the best health outcomes for sick people who often see you as their first port of call

It’s a very different world to agriculture; where we are totally overwhelmed with quiet achievers and the world is leaving us behind. The majority of pharmacists can be quiet achievers because there are some very smart people in the world of pharmacy who know how important it is if you are going to be heard in Macquarie St or Canberra  you need to be articulate, know that politics is the art of the possible and you need to be a cohesive, collaborative, powerful group of networkers. You need to be loud and proud. This is the reason that the Pharmacy Guild is one most powerful lobby groups in this country

There are a lot of smart people in agriculture and that is where the comparison stops and this is what I want to change. I want the people in the offices in the hallowed halls to tremble and listen and act when the farmer lobbyists go to meet the decision and policy makers

I know there are people in agriculture who could do it better than me and chose not to. So I am on a steep learning curve and constantly seeking out people I can learn from. Figuring out how to ask the right questions and when I get the right answers who are the people to take them to who will actually do something with them. Those people are very short on the ground in the world of dairy. Every day I am reminded just how naive so many of our dairy farmers are. We pay levies and we just expect that the people in charge of our levies can read our minds and this tends to lead to a one size fits all R&D mentality that apparently works in every region no matter what your farming system, topography, soil types et all and decision making that is not always in the best interests of the majority. It also means no-one is listening to us in Macquarie St or Canberra and can’t say I blame them.

So I love to talk to people from other industries, hear what they are doing and always wondering why we don’t do that in dairy. Looking at the diversity of people I met at Crookwell Show. See post here.

Take cattle farmer Ken Wheelwright for example.


Ken and his family realised long ago that farming today is not about working longer hours it’s about being smarter. So after talking to holistic educator Bruce Ward, Ken contacted the KLR Marketing team and became part of their Mastermind Group.

The KLR Mastermind Group is the support network for KLR Marketing. The greatest benefits of being part of this network, Ken believes is that you have access to the vital tools that enable you to profit from your livestock, in any market and he certainly gave me plenty of successful examples. Imagine the value of talking to people who can share their experiences like recognising the recent rain has meant there has been a rapid growth of grass and the cattle market is very buoyant but looking at the medium term weather forecast shows there are some extreme heat events coming which are going to burn that grass off pretty fast and it might be very smart to de-stock by 90% and take advantage of the current high cattle prices. If there is a similar range of services delivered on-line and offline, which include a unique market report like the KLR 30 Second Market report, profit calculators, teleconferences as well as mentoring days in regional areas offering in the world of dairy I have never seen it

Talking to Dr Rod Hoare reminded me how important it is to learn from past knowledge.


Rod is an equine and cattle vet with extensive experience working for the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI). Now Chief ground steward at the Crookwell Show and farmer Rod and his partner Helena Warren run a very interesting and diverse farming operation at Cadfor Equestrian and Murray Greys. Rod is also the 2012 Australian Biosecurity Farmer of the Year   

I learnt a lot about a lot things from Rod as we drove around Crookwell Show in his little golf buggy.


There are many farmers in the dairy industry that could benefit from listening to Rod talk about the protocols and systems that were in place to ‘keep the bastards honest’ in the on farm milk quality testing process when he was at the DPI. Any farmer who has moved from one milk processor to another who uses a different lab knows how huge the variation in milk quality lab test results can be and how costly that can be. For us one year that was $30K. You can do a lot on farm with $30K.  You could employ some-one for half a year. Imagine how much infrastructure repairs and maintenance you could do let alone how many trees and fencing you could do. Build a shade shelter for your cows on hot days, the holiday you could go on, let alone all the staff that didn’t get their milk quality bonus. It wasn’t much fun for them either. There is a small dedicated group of people out there trying to fix this problem on behalf of farmers but getting nowhere because for some reason “the bastards” are happy with the system. Well Rod might just have the answer; it certainly worked in his day.

On our trip to the cattle sheds Rod introduced me to 84 year old Ernie Stevenson. Ernie was a very early and influential member of the Murray Grey Society. A man with a good eye for cattle but admits he is fairly critical which often didn’t make him the most popular judge


Ernie’s daughter Fiona with her husband butcher Mick Battiste have kept the family beef cattle tradition alive at their Woolarainga Stud where they raise Murray Grey and Squaremeaters

In September 2009 Mick and Fiona established Woolaringa Meats as a retail butcher shop, located at 112 Kinghorne Street, Goulburn. They provide free range beef from their own farm and purchase cattle from local farmers like Rod Hoare that suit their specifications. According to Rod, Mick Battiste does all his own butchering and promotion of beef. Mick works on the basis that (like a pharmacist) by taking time to share your knowledge and skills you can give people a better eating experience

The things like we farmers kno, that you make great casseroles with cheap chuck steak not prime costly rump steak

Well done Mick and Fiona running great events like Super Square Sunday  

Mick and Fiona Battiste



Every little girl wants a pony

I have a friend who is going to do an  Alpine Horseback Safari through the Kosciuszko National Park with her family and she is the one in the family who hasn’t ridden in almost as long I haven’t

So she has found some-where in Kangaroo Valley where she can practice and ensure she doesn’t let the team down

I am assuming it’s this one . Anyway in a moment of madness I said I would go with her. So I got up on the ladder and got my old exercise saddle down from its spot it was sharing with a wasp nest in the garage and decided to clean it up.


Its amazing what you can do with some (a lot) Ge-Wy dressing ( after you have removed the wasp nests)


Not bad for a saddle that’s been sitting on a beam in the garage for 37 years. But I think I will give these a miss


Who out there is my age and did the show circuit when everybody bought their saddles (except when you got snobby and imported them from Germany so you could keep up with the Jones) from D Stuart and Son at Sutherland?

Stuart and Son

 Its was all so long ago


Dairy the food of champions

I spent part of this weekend staying with my best friend Bev and her husband Don and their gorgeous grandson Julian who is just about to turn 16 happened to be staying too

Now the dairy industry owes a great deal to Julian who doesn’t farm but does drink a lot of milk but his main claim to fame for dairy is he put the Australian dairy industry on the map literally

In 2004 when I started advocating for dairy the dairy industry had NO pictures and I engaged Bev’s equally gorgeous daughter Jo to take a series of photos for me which she did pro bono

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Bev’s daughter Jo and her husband Matt in 2005

I sent them to the current communications manager at Dairy Australia – Vicki Surwillo who at that time was working as a marketing consultant for Dairy Australia. She lobbied her then boss Richard Lange and Richard came up with a campaign called Impressions of Dairy. Dairy Australia then hired a series of well-known photographers to go out to farms all over Australia and take beautiful photos of our farmers and their families and their farms

I then lobbied Dairy Australia to take over half the cattle pavilion at the Sydney Royal Easter Show and we had an Impressions of Dairy Art Exhibition and did lots of other great stuff.


 Julian seen here in this photo kissing the calf was the star of the exhibition

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The exhibition

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All the big wigs of the dairy industry were there

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and so were the cows DA SRES 2005 144

We had lots of great food

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and these fantastic little milk cocktails

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The farmers took time off from their precious show cattle (they had plenty to eat too) and

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popped in to see what their levy $ where being spent on

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The Hon. Duncan John GAY, MLC was at that time the shadow minister for agriculture in NSW

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I had frizzy red hair – those curls are natural when my hair is short

DA SRES 2005 165The Dairy Australia team had lots of fun

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There were lots of speeches

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and industry displays

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we had lots of fantastic activities for kids at the show

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Some many reminders of all the wonderful people who supported me over the last ten years. Love you Chris, Neil, Tom, Vicki and Philip xox

Nick & Julian 8

and Julian even learnt to show cattle – what a little cutie he was. The judge didn’t give him the blue ribbon on that day. Then he didn’t have much of an eye for cattle – that little calf -whose nickname was Joster – went on to do very well at International Dairy Week when she grew up

Thank you Julian for putting the Australian dairy industry on the map in pictures

Voiceless I thank you for starting the conversation the dairy industry needed to have.

This post ‘Voiceless – What a farce you are” is generating a huge amount of traffic to my blog but what is important is it is generating some very important comments from a wide variety of people. Not just on the blog, emails to me, and messages on Facebook, DM’s on Twitter and phone calls

Lynne Strong

At time for serious reflection

By the way I don’t think Voiceless is a farce but sometimes you have to have a heading that drives traffic to get the important conversations happening. What I do think is Voiceless is a well-meaning organisation but not that well informed.  But I wrote a blog about that with that heading and it hasn’t generated anywhere near the same amount of conversations

Its turns out Linda who comments a number of times on my ‘Voiceless – What a farce you are” blog lives quite near to me and is a fascinating person that I look forward to meeting in the near future. BTW some people mistakenly thought Linda represented Voiceless – she does not. She is a very smart woman with strong ideals and there are lots of people out there like Linda and we as farmers must listen to what these people have to say because they care just like we do but sometimes in a different way and we have to get be able to achieve a maintained and respected balance between urban and rural communities

To maintain our social licence agriculture must build consumer trust, proving we share the same values as consumers, and this can only be achieved by actively connecting with the community.

Agriculture will struggle to expand and introduce new technologies if consumers are concerned about the industry’s motivation

Animal activists have clearly identified issues. However, a social licence to operate is not about issues, because issues can change.

Instead, a social licence is about developing platforms and methodologies to have discussions with customers and consumers regardless of the issue. A key component will be having farmers and scientists understand how to explain on-farm practices to consumers and stakeholders in the most effective way.

Industry organisations are resourced to focus on political and policy imperatives. They also handle crisis issues as they arise, but a social licence to operate takes time to develop and resources to maintain. Maintaining a social licence requires daily effort to maintain and enhance.  All industry stakeholders, from farmers, scientists and milk processors have a role to play in securing agriculture’s social licence.

These industry participants need to be identified, trained and supported to engage with consumers and the media on a daily basis. This includes understanding the correct messaging, platforms and strategies for engaging effectively. This is what the Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions do every day and this is why they are so successful

These are not new ideas. Yet nobody quite understands how to handle them, how to implement them, or how to transform the talk into a walk.

Excitingly there is a group in Australia who have successfully taken the bull by the horns. The Young Farming Champions involved in the Art4Agriculture programs are effectively connecting with the community, sharing their own values and building relationships with consumers, engaging in conversations on climate change, food wastage, and the challenges of producing safe, affordable and nutritious food and fibre with a declining natural resource base.

Like most farmers the Young Farming Champions have the passion, experiences and knowledge to inspire others. What some of them do not have are the sophisticated communication skills to do so in a short period of time. In this age of bite size information and desensitisation through sensory overload, the ability to communicate a message in a way that resonates with an audience is critical

These skills are not bestowed, they are learnt and therefore can be taught. They are not learnt from their peers, university students, farmers and consultants. A specialist skills requires a technical specialist and this is what makes the Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions program work. We outsource the expertise we don’t have

Agriculture it’s time to listen, it’s time to make sure our practices DO meet or exceed consumer expectations and yes these expectations may become unrealistic if we don’t bring them on our journey.

It’s our job not our industries to ensure consumer expectations are realistic and it’s time to build a cohort of farmers and scientists trained by technical specialists who can have those essential two way conversations with the community

So Voiceless I thank you for starting the conversation the dairy industry needed to have. We do care and as this great blog from Dairy Farmer of the Year Greg Denis – If only it was the Animal’s Voice shows lot of what you have reported is ill-informed and what you have asked for of us is at times unrealistic but we are listening and there are plenty of passionate farmers like me who are driving change.

This video is absolutely fascinating I can see why those who don’t live on farms and know that this is not what happens on family dairy farms would become vegans

Beyond Carnism and toward Rational, Authentic Food Choices | Melanie Joy |

Compelling isn’t she? And I was having bacon and eggs and a latte for breakfast

Special thanks to the bright minds of Sophie Davidson, Greg Mills and Bessie Thomas for so much of the inspiration for this blog

Voiceless – a well meaning group doing more harm than good

As I mentioned in my blog post yesterday Voiceless have recently released a report that doesn’t show the Australian dairy industry in the best light

I don’t know what their agenda is –

Do they want Australians to stop drinking milk?

Do they want to shut down the Australian dairy industry?

Do they want Australians to not have access to the most affordable, safest, nutritious staple food that provides the perfect start to every day?

What I do know is that Voiceless just don’t get it.  I know this because once again I have nominated on behalf of the NSW dairy industry to sit on the national committee whose sole focus is the wellbeing of dairy cows in Australia.

I know Voiceless there are practices in our industry we are highly committed to phasing out and every state is working on a set of standards that will do everything humanely possible to meet or exceed consumer expectations about the way they want their milk produced.

Just how do you explain to organisations like Voiceless the way dairy farmers love their cows?

To start with no-one should dairy farm unless they do love cows first and foremost

It should be the first box every dairy farmer ticks when they decide they want to be a dairy farmer

I can’t talk on behalf of all dairy farmers I can only talk about the way my family love their cows

The way Marian MacDonald loves hers

The way Gillian Hayman and Graeme Nicol love theirs

The way Alison Germon loves hers

I haven’t been to Marian’s farm. I haven’t been to Graeme and Gillian’s farm. I haven’t been to Alison’s farm but I know they love their cows because of the way they write about them in their blogs

As my readers know I never wanted to be a dairy farmer but my family did. I wasn’t very good at milking cows and don’t like getting up at three am in the morning. So I did what I do best and one of those things was helping my family show their beloved cattle.

I was a pharmacist for over 25 years and I worked very very long hours to help support the farm and buy those beloved cattle.

But every year at show time I made sure that I was available to clean all the halters, provide the delicious lunch and  work my butt off on show day to ensure our team of show cows went into the show ring looking the very best they possibly could.

The staff in the pharmacy I managed also loved the cows and bombarded me with questions about how we went at the show when I walked in the door for my next shift.

Our family holidays centred around Sydney Show or shows Michael was invited to judge at. Michael’s sister used to help us and there are many many happy memories.

And as it turned out Michael’s son loves cows too

Nick and Pam

We did our very best to support all our local regional shows

KIama Show

I broke open the champagne bottle this day

Last Friday it was their favourite local show at the beautiful Berry Showground. Berry is a favourite because it provides the best shade and shelter options for the cows

Nick at Berry Show

 Nick picking up a blue ribbon at Berry Show 20 years ago

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and of course the highlight is always taking out the tri- colour ribbon at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

Please Voiceless find another cause. Create havoc some-where else. Australian dairy farmers love their cows We aren’t perfect  but our farmers DO get up every day to do it better

We do care about our cows and we do care what the people who drink our milk care about and we can work together to get the right balance. What we don’t need is Voiceless putting out and promoting sensationalised reports for some agenda I am yet to determine

Voiceless – what a farce you are

I have been very quiet in the social media space over the last month, in the main because I just wasn’t sure how I could best value add to the discussion. I just sat there shaking my head in bewilderment when people like Lyn White from the animals extremist’s group Animals Australia who is apparently such a saint that multiples of people feel she is worthy of the title of Australian of the Year. This month brings us the report commissioned by Voiceless about the Australian dairy industry that garnered enough attention from the media that I turned my phone off for three days so I wouldn’t have to field calls from the media who wanted to turn the Voiceless agenda into one of the top 3 issues impacting on the health, wealth and happiness of every single Australian Well Voiceless and Lyn White I would like you to meet Michael Strong. A young man I met 40 years ago who at that time was working as a brickie’s labourer whose most likely career option 40 years ago was a professional rugby league player michael strong Unbeknownst to the young girl who fell madly, deeply in love with him his lifelong dream was to be a dairy farmer 40 years later Voiceless don’t you dare tell me Michael Strong doesn’t love his cows more than life itself Don’t you dare tell me, he doesn’t wake up every day with the welfare of those cows at the forefront of his mind? Don’t you dare tell me that Michael Strong doesn’t wake up every day with the aim of producing the best quality nutritious, safe, affordable milk he possibly can for Australian families Don’t you dare tell me Michael Strong doesn’t wake up every morning with the aim of giving his cows the best possible life he possibly can? And Voiceless don’t you dare tell me that the person that I most love in the world doesn’t love his cows more that life itself  because I know Voiceless that if Michael Strong was forced to chose between the young girl  who loved him madly, deeply and the the cows – he would chose the cows .

FYI for all those people like me saying where is that man’s helmet? We now have a much safer option to the quad bike

Michael and Cows in Front of House on Gator

Please if you have read this post – please read my follow up Voiceless – I thank you for starting the conversations the dairy industry had to have