Introducing Ainsley McArthur, her husband Rob and their six children from the Central Queensland Coast. Their story is number 30 in my quest to feature 52 Farming stories in 52 weeks my way of celebrating the Australian Year of the Farmer.
Summary of our life on the land:
Rob and I, along with our six children, live, own and operate a beef breeding and cattle trading business on the Central Queensland Coast.
Our business is centered around “Mystery Park”, originally selected in 1925. Additional land purchases have been made and today our holdings cover 35.000 acres with between 4500 – 5000 head of cattle on hand. “Mystery Park” has been in the McArthur family for four generations and we are raising the 5th!
Our eldest daughter, Tess, is currently studying Business Management at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. Andrew, 9, and Lachlan, 6, are in primary school and completing this through the Capricornia School of Distance Education while Hamish, 4 and Adelaide, 3, love helping Dad around the paddock when not eagerly participating in our home schoolroom. Meanwhile baby Eliza is content to feed, sleep and grow through the chaos of a large family.
We love the sense of family and community that living and working in a rural environment brings. Like most Australian families living in the bush, we work hard at balancing work, family and community.
We have made a significant investment (both time & money) in the agricultural sector and our management objectives must encompass both profitability and sustainability. Our approach to our business is holistic. We harvest sunlight to grow grass that sustains livestock, which create an income stream that then ensures we can continue to live the lifestyle we love. It is truly regenerative.
Why do we love the Beef Industry?
As farmers, we are custodians of our own environment. The connection between land and food is nurtured for our children and us. Primary production is tangible, we are proud to produce the world’s favourite protein – beef!
The Beef Industry offers a lifestyle that encompasses family. We work hard together and then reap the rewards of that work. Our children have a grassroots understanding of nature and how it integrates. Our work is not just physical, we embrace technology and innovativeness to overcome the hurdles that Mother Nature deals to us. Farming is a marriage of both physical and mental toughness. It is full of challenges but the rewards are huge!
The industry is full of positive people who operate farms in diverse environments. We are proud to be part of this.
The wide-open spaces are priceless; we are afforded so much freedom…
Profitability……we are asset rich but cashflow poor. This equation and the repercussions of this are not widely understood outside of agriculture. It is a barrier to entry and also drives many to leave the land…I’m sure it is not only beef that this is true for but most agricultural enterprises.
Recognition of our skills…Many of our industry’s best practitioners (ie. FARMERS!) do not hold formal qualifications that are recognizable outside of agriculture. A stumbling block for many as Australia’s workforce craves fluidity in employment.
The perception that farmer’s are responsible land managers has been tarnished by fringe extremist groups. This needs to be counteracted at many levels.
Communities are shrinking as farmer’s become more efficient. Less need to employ, farms are bigger and neighbours have been bought up. We need to be thinking outside the square to reinvigorate these communities. My observations tell me that our city cousins haven’t been able to create that strong sense of community in the big metropolis!
A message to Government and City Cousins :
Graziers are far more innovative and attune with grazing management then we are given credit for. Those in the industry for the long haul have to be to survive! Farmers are land stewards for 61 percent of Australia’s land mass.
There are still huge productivity gains to be made in agriculture. Money needs to continue to be directed into research and development. Incorporation of Agriculture into our school’s National Curriculum is essential to create an understanding amongst future generations about where our food and fibre comes from. This may help promote our sector as a positive place to work and an exciting career path. Like medical practitioners and lawyers, our field demands a high level of expertise. Our experience, training and qualifications need more recognition.
Delivery of high speed, reliable and affordable internet could do so much to invigorate our communities. Access to technology and infrastructure in rural Australia is dismal compared to our City Cousins and is a huge stumbling block (think health, education and day-to-day business).
Our Billboard Message:
We grow the grass to raise the beef that you love to eat!
How do you harvest your sunshine?
We welcome you to share our evolving story: