Monday, 26 October 2020
South Australia: 2020 Spirit of Excellence in Agriculture Awards
Last Friday night, I had the honour of attending the South Australian Spirit of Excellence in Agriculture Awards, hosted by the Agricultural Bureau of South Australia and attended by the new South Australian minister for agriculture, David Basham, and also by the member for MacKillop, Nick McBride, and the Labor member for Light, Tony Piccolo. The night was compered by the wonderful, enthusiastic Alex Thomas, and it was good to catch up with her again.
It was an awards night, but it was also an opportunity to give a send-off to the retiring chair of the advisory board, Mark Grossman, who served nine years in that position, and all and sundry and I thanked him for that commitment over that long period of time. It gave me an opportunity, too, to meet the incoming chair, Janette Ridgeway. That was a pleasure as well. I'm sure the entire agricultural community looks forward to working with Janette.
But the night, as it should have, belonged to the award winners. I'm pleased to announce that Ellen Zibell from Kimba, my home town—in fact, remarkably, my home farming community to the north-west—won the 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Scholarship for Farmers. This is a rather special award for me in so much as the scholarship is in memory of the late Peter and Wendy Olsen, who lost their lives tragically in aeroplane accident 20 years ago in May. Peter and Wendy were close personal friends of my wife and I. It was a shocking day and a shocking time. But it is good that each year we remember them when these awards come around, and now there is a good, special reason for Ellen Zibell to remember them as well. Ellen won an $8,000 bursary. She is the co-director of a family farming business 50 kilometres north-west of Kimba and, together with her husband, Brett, and his brother, Mark, and his wife, Lisa, runs 7,750 hectares of land. They are a mixed cropping and livestock enterprise. She has a vision to diversify her family farm to grow unique ancient grains, sustainably regenerate the landscape, restore biodiversity and improve soil health to directly improve the environment, farming land and personal health. She has a vision to make the change that is needed for future generations to secure the longevity of farming. Ellen said:
Taking some time to focus on raising our family, studying, and trying to help where I can with farming has given me the opportunity to live and witness the struggles of farming all around me.
Ellen also believes the next generation of farmers will need different skills and that they need to question the current ways of doing things. She said:
We need to have a state of constant curiosity to move forward in the industry we love for generations to come.
So good on you, Ellen. The two other young farmers in that area were Jasmin Piggott from Cowell and Brody Sivia from Arno Bay, communities quite close to Kimba.
Then we had the Rural Youth Bursary, which is a $5,000 award sponsored by Primary Industries. The winner was Matthew Maunder, from Glossop. Glossop is a small community between Berri and Barmera. Matthew comes from New South Wales and is a product of the rural science degree at the University of New England. He spent some time in western New South Wales in broadacre cropping, but he has come to be an expert in the citrus industry. He is working now for the technical officer at Australia's largest citrus farm, Costa Group's Kangara farm in the Riverland. Matthew's role has allowed him to manage numerous research trials looking at irrigation, chemical fertiliser, environmental sustainability and their operations. What he had hoped to do with his bursary was attend the International Citrus Congress in Turkey, but unfortunately, owing to the virus that is interrupting our lifestyles all around the world, he is having to rescope that. Instead, he will be travelling, I think, around Australia, making sure he is up to date on the best of technology.
Well done to the winners and well done to the people who put their names forward and were willing to be assessed on their work. Well done to the Advisory Board of Agriculture, who continue to be an ear and a message line to the minister to keep them in touch with this really important industry that I am so excited by every time I mix with the young farmers, such as those that were at that event on Friday night.