NSW Rural Women's Award finalists named

Three outstanding women have been selected as NSW finalists for the 2006 Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Award.

Director-General of the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Barry Buffier, said the women were chosen for their commitment to primary industries, the benefits their work will bring to their communities, and their leadership potential.  

“This year’s finalists represent a broad cross section of primary industries,” Mr Buffier said.

“Mary Howard is a prawn trawl business operator, Catherine Ford runs an organic macadamia and coffee plantation, and Kate Schwager is a rural website developer and cropping share-farmer.

“Mary Howard, in partnership with her husband, has owned and operated a prawn trawl business at Laughtondale on the lower Hawkesbury River since the 1980’s.

“She has a long history of community activity and industry representation. Mary plans to use the bursary to develop fishing industry promotional tools and provide up-to-date information on environmental strategies and initiatives.

“Catherine Ford runs a successful family business growing 110 acres of organic macadamia nut trees and coffee at Rosebank in the north coast region.

“She will produce a guide which will help fellow macadamia and coffee growers successfully convert to sustainable practices.

“Kate Schwager runs a successful cotton and wheat share-farming enterprise near Wee Waa in northern NSW. Seven years ago she began to develop websites to promote her local community and to explore off-farm income opportunities.

“She has now developed a Rural Towns Package based on her original weewaa.com website and wants to share her learnings with other rural communities.”

The winner of the NSW 2006 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award will be announced in February at a dinner hosted by Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald.

The annual awards are designed to recognise the outstanding contribution made by women in primary industries. The NSW awards are coordinated by the DPI’s Rural Women’s Network.


The NSW RIRDC Rural Women’s Award is supported by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, NSW Department of Primary Industries, The Australian Women’s Weekly, ABC Radio, Rural Press, NSW Department of Natural Resources, NSW Premier’s Department Office for Women and the NSW Heritage Office.


Media contact: Trudy Glasgow 02 6391 3312 or Allison Priest 6391 3620