Committee profile: Down to business

Committee profile: Down to business

1. What does your farm business produce? 

In partnership with my brothers, we run a mixed farming operation with a self-replacing Poll Merino flock and winter cereal crops.

2. How did you become a farmer? 

I was raised on the farm, then moved into manufacturing, experiencing a very different lifestyle. I then had an opportunity to return to the family farm and have been a full-time farmer for 30 years. I am so fortunate to have had that opportunity.

3. What is it about being a farmer that gets you up in the morning?

To be able to work in nature, see seeds grow to maturity and harvest; and to develop a strong breeding program – especially to see lambs grow to maturity. The challenges that farming exposes me to make me a stronger person.

4. Why did you choose to become a NSW Farmers Member? 

I have an interest in the issues that affect all farmers and I want to contribute to the industry. This has taken me on a journey of learning and understanding of how the ag sector functions. Farmers need to be actively contributing if they want to address the many challenges and drive the solutions.

Business, Economic and Trade (BEAT) Committee Chair, Bill McDonnell

5. Why did you take on the role of the BEAT Committee chair? 

To work with members to ensure their concerns are heard, and make sure Association policy is acted on and addresses the issues that matter most to our members. It feels good to be part of the solution, working with a group of passionate farmers who are seeking
to really drive forward solutions to address barriers to productivity.

6. What are some of the BEAT Committee’s recent achievements? 

The Committee has been effective in raising member concerns with the NSW Government about the business impacts of rising land valuations, council rates, and the proposed NSW property tax. We have also been working closely with Transport for NSW to improve compliance requirements for primary producers. Removing access restrictions on the Newell Highway and the duplication of the Great Western Highway will deliver strong benefits to farmers. The Government’s commitment to expand onshore storage for crude oil, the Productivity Commission’s review of right to repair, and proposed changes to unfair contract terms legislation should achieve positive outcomes for members in the long-term.

7. What are the priorities for 2022? 

• Improve business resilience and preparedness for drought and natural disasters, especially access to finance.

• Reduce/remove inefficiencies in transport infrastructure (road, rail and port access) to improve productivity and drive down costs.

• Improve access to international markets for all agricultural products.

• Maintain advocacy to improve domestic market access and address barriers to competitiveness.

8. If you aren’t on your farm, where would you be?

Visiting family and friends is important to me, seeing different places and chatting to people – they have so much to tell you! Or a good game of AFL, particularly if the Swans are playing.

9. What is your favourite story (book, movie or television show) about farming/agriculture?

A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey. This autobiography is a simple tale of resilience that offers a valuable perspective for today. He lived the frontier life of a sheep farmer in Western Australia, survived Gallipoli, raised a family through The Depression, and was married for 60 years. Facey’s story is the extraordinary journey of an ordinary man.

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