2005 Farmer of the Year finalists announced
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A zero-tillage farmer, a western division grazier who also runs a farmstay, and a dorper sheep breeder are just some of the finalists in this year’s Farmer of the Year and Young Farmer of the Year competition.
Judges of the 2005 awards were very impressed to see the excellent standard of applications maintained since the awards began last year.
Initiated by the NSW Farmers' Association and the NSW Government, the awards are designed to acknowledge agricultural excellence, with a particular emphasis on farmers who combine sustainability with profitability.
The Farmer of the Year finalists are Scott McCalman of Warren, Steve Cresswell of Dubbo (and Wilcannia) and Fleur Tonge of Casino.
The Young Farmer of the Year finalists are Graham Finlayson of Brewarrina and James Friend of Walgett.
“What impressed the judges most this year was not only the high standard of applicants, but the incredible diversity in farming enterprises,” judging panel chair and Cobar farmer Marie Russell said.
“These farmers are achieving impressive results in the face of one of the worst droughts NSW has ever experienced, while also remaining committed to sustaining the natural resources of water, soil quality and ground cover.”
Mrs Russell said some of the strong themes that came through included ongoing drought management strategies and a willingness to diversify from some of the more traditional farming approaches.
“Many of this year’s finalists have come from traditional backgrounds but have embraced new approaches to help them stay in the game,” she said.
“Zero-tillage, use of native species to help strengthen pastures, and breeding of alternative livestock breeds to better suit the climate are just some examples of this.
“The determination of each of the finalists to achieve both sustainability and profitability is nothing short of inspiring – particularly given this 1-in-100-year drought.”
The “Farmer of the Year” will be awarded $10,000 and the “Young Farmer of the Year” will receive $5,000 to further develop and improve their farming enterprise. The runners-up will receive a $1,000 consolation prize.
The winners will be announced at the NSW Farmers' Association annual conference dinner, on Wednesday July 20, 2005.
Media Note: brief biographies of finalists attached. Photos available.
Media contact: Trudy Glasgow 6391 3312 or 0427 217 354
Farmer of the Year finalists
Scott McCalman – ‘Jedburgh’ WARREN
Scott and his wife Jo are dedicated zero-tillage farmers, operating two properties totalling 12,500 acres north west of Warren. In 1990 Scott made the decision to completely de-stock their properties in a bid to achieve better pasture and soil sustainability. Attention to soil quality, cover cropping and moisture conservation have been paramount to the success of their operation. Scott’s opportunity cropping schedule varies each year and includes crops such as wheat, cotton, canola, chickpeas and sorghum. He has a strong interest in the latest agricultural research, and regularly develops custom-built machinery to achieve his soil health goals.
Steve Cresswell – ‘Dungary’ DUBBO and ‘Annalara Station’ WILCANNIA
Steve owns and manages two properties which are located in the central west and the western division. ‘Dungary’ is a 2,050 hectare property near Dubbo and ‘Annalara Station’ is a 23,767 hectare property located 74 km north east of Wilcannia. Steve’s main enterprise is dorper sheep production, with 500 stud dorpers situated at Dubbo and 3,000 commercial dorpers at the Wilcannia property. Steve believes the doper, offers a range of benefits particularly in areas prone to drought conditions. Steve has achieved organic status for ‘Annalara Station’ and is in the process of becoming an accredited organic lamb producer at ‘Dungary’.
Fleur Tonge – ‘Kupidabin’ Dobies Blight via CASINO
Fleur runs her dairy farm west of Casino with husband Sam. The property currently produces 1.6 million litres from a calving her of 240 cows that produce milk all year round. Her approach to farm management is one based on commitment to environment and economic goals, while also enabling Fleur, Sam and their staff to enjoy a reasonable lifestyle. The focus is to increase the profitability of milk production by optimising the balance between production level and cost of production. The farm also has an irrigation and drainage management system designed to minimise wastage, including use of a soil moisture meter and compost made with waste, and the production of green manure crops in the silage areas to improve soil condition.
Young Farmer of the Year finalists
Graham Finlayson – ‘Bokhara Plains’ BREWARRINA
Graham and his wife Cathy run a cattle and sheep grazing enterprise, with a strong emphasis on care for the tough environment of western division grazing country. Livestock are managed in an intensive grazing system that balances the health of the animals with the need to rest pastures and promote the native perennial grasses of the low rainfall area. Graham’s goal is to increase the property’s groundcover as well as improve the biodiversity in the pastures through use of cell grazing. Graham and Cathy added a farmstay accommodation aspect to their enterprise in 1991 which last year attracted more than 2,000 guests.
James Friend – ‘Talbarear Cottage’ WALGETT
James runs a 6,100 hectare farm east of Walgett with his wife Jill. While part of the property is used for the dryland production of winter cereals and pulse crops, his main enterprise is a beef cattle feedlot. The feedlot comprises 950 head capacity and includes infrastructure to maintain daily feeding regimes as well as the processing of stock feed. James also runs a 300 head Shorthorn herd, a sire breeding operation and a 50 cow shorthorn stud. Drought has been one of the biggest challenges facing James and his family, but the development of the feedlot has enabled him to achieve profitability in difficult times. He is committed to flexible land use and to conserving the health of native flora and river systems as they relate to his property.