As I said in my first blog for 2012, it’s going to be a busy year! The Year of Reading, Year of Silver Gums (that’s my own ‘Year of’ for writing) and the Australian Year of the Farmer.
Australian Year of the Farmer celebrates the hard work of everyone involved in producing, processing, handling and selling products from 136,000 farms across the country.
Australian farms and the industries that support them generate more than $405 billion each year, that’s 27% of our GDP.
The celebration was conceived by Australian Year of the Farmer Directors, Geoff Bell and Philip Bruem. Geoff and Philip wanted more people to appreciate the fresh food and quality materials our farmers produce to keep us fed, clothed and sheltered.
And so, the concept has grown into a national celebration, one which will reach every Australian – reminding us that our farmers sustain the Australian way of life and the economy.
Australian Year of the Farmer is about celebrating and enriching the connections between rural and urban Australia.
We want you to take time out of your busy day to think about how farming affects your life, there’s more to this agribusiness than meets the eye.
What are you going to do in 2012 to celebrate?
Well, what I’m going to do is get hold of 52 Farmers and post a blog a week from a farmer. From every part of Agriculture; grain, stock, mixed, fishing, diary, viticulture, communications and so on and so forth!
I hope this will be of interest to you all because if it weren’t for farmers you wouldn’t have food.
They quite literally ‘feed the nation’.
My friend Amanda and her husband live in Queensland and she’s my very first farmer.
1. Summary of your family and farming enterprise
We help run the longest-serving Brangus cattle stud in Australia, Bimbadeen Brangus (Queensland) which was founded by my father, Bruce Burnham in 1956. The family-run enterprise runs 600 breeding females (comprising both stud and commercial herds) on properties in the North Burnett region of Queensland.
Bimbadeen sells red and black stud and commercial bulls and females throughout Australia, and also turns off grass-fed steers which sell mostly to the EU market.
2. For you, what is the best lifestyle factor that you enjoy as a farmer?
Having lived for well over a decade in towns and cities, both Mark and I revel in the country life. While amenities are definitely harder to come by, the pluses are enormous.
Among these are: the satisfying sense of contributing a healthy product to plates around our country and beyond; the ever-changing landscapes which are now our ‘office’; the lack of air, visual and aural pollution; the healthy outdoorsy environment for our kids to grow up in and learn from… (and I am just getting warmed up here!).
3. What do you foresee as your biggest short term and long term challenges?
It may sound simplistic, but I really feel the most enormous challenge we face is our isolation. Not in terms of geography, but in terms of social and political (small ‘p’) isolation. We are (population-wise) a minority.
Our voices get lost in our very urban-centric nation. Unless our city friends truly understand the hurdles we face as we try to produce food (and other primary produce) for this nation, the (usually bureaucratic) impediments that are being thrown in our path will continue to pile up.
All the good intentions in the world, all the satisfaction in providing sustenance for others, counts for naught if we cannot earn a decent living doing it.
4. What do you wish non-farmers / city people & the Australian Government understood about farming. What message would you like to put on a billboard in Collins Street?
It’s hard to speak on behalf of all farmers, but in my experience (from my city and country ‘lives’) is that we have way more in common than not. Farmers tend the land and their herds to get the very best from them over a long-term period.
The vast majority work hard, research well, and take enormous pride in what they do – in being sustainable managers of the patch of earth they care take.
Those who live in cities, who care about animals and the earth, are motivated by exactly the same urge to tend. We simply have different opportunities to ‘scratch that itch’.
What I’d like people to understand about me personally, is that I am no different to any other mother, wife, or businessperson.
I want happiness and education for my children, I want a secure and comfortable roof over our heads, I want a successful business to provide a reliable income for my family.
No more, no less than most Australians.
As for a Billboard? How about something inspired by a Beatle:
IMAGINE… all the people, people we could feed… if we just worked as a team!