Introducing the Maitland Family from Clare, South Australia, their story is number 35 in my quest to feature 52 Farmers in 52 weeks in celebration of the Australian Year of the Farmer.
Summary of our family and farming enterprise:
The Maitland family own and operate a farming business, on the family property, 15 minutes north of Clare, South Australia. We have two main enterprises on farm; a broad acre farming operation, Alex Maitland & Co. (partnership), and Pangkarra Foods (Pty Ltd company), a value adding business, producing premium stone milled wholegrain pasta and flour.
We farm 1400 hectares, lease 300 hectares and share-farm 800 hectares, bringing our total area of farmed land to 2500 hectares. This production consists of hard wheat, oaten hay, beans, canola and durum. Currently, Pangkarra consists of 1% of farm production, with opportunity to grow. To find out more about Pangkarra Foods, visit www.pangkarrafoods.com.au
What is the best lifestyle factor that you enjoy as a farmer?
To be able to have the flexibility and diversity in your job is what makes the lifestyle choice desirable for a farmer. Every day is different, and every year is different. From spreading in a tractor and driving a truck, to working out the marketing plan and dealing with grain contracts, there are many jobs within the general operation. There is also satisfaction in growing a crop, nurturing that plant throughout the season, and watch it turn into food. There are busy seasons with farming, that being harvest, seeding, hay etc, but in the quieter seasons, there are opportunities to take time off when you choose. Each farmer works for him/herself, which is a great lifestyle factor.
What do you foresee as your biggest short term and long term challenges?
There are many challenges that we will face in the short term that will affect agriculture. In particular, the economies of scale may alter the way we farm. This includes carob tax (fuel and energy prices), the fluctuating grain prices, our international influence and where the markets are, and general expenses to run a farming businesses (which often outweigh the return). Long term, the climate and weather patterns may change. In addition, the environment and sustainability will play a part in how we farm, with precision agriculture (which we are already doing), soil health and when we sow, harvest etc.
What do you wish non-farmers / city people and the Australian Government understood about farming and what message would you put on a billboard in Collins Street?
Many city people and government bodies undervalue and under-appreciate the role of agriculture in Australia. Food is a staple commodity, which unlike other industries, we need to survive. Farming also creates jobs, not just on farm, but in a supply chain. The challenges that we currently face with grain prices and the rising production costs, it could be unviable to be a farmer in the future. If the Government was able to assist farmers with grants and funding, it would certainly help the overall picture and keep Australian farms in the game.
The message I would put in Collins Street would be “who made your dinner last night… he did” and a picture of a farmer…..
Pangkarra Foods Website: