Too often in the media we hear only about the whingeing farmer. It is too dry or too wet; the winds have fanned the fires and the market has crashed. El Nino is coming or La Nina has left. The supermarkets are screwing down the prices and the government is burying the whole show in red tape.
So it was an utter delight to meet with 24 proactive, passionate and positive farmers in Queensland last week. The group, all graduates of the KLR Marketing school (www.klrmarketing.com.au) and members of the associated Mastermind network, converged on Landsborough Downs south of Hughenden and the home of Jim and Terri Lindsay.
From all across Australia they came – from the far southwest of WA, to the Atherton Tablelands in QLD; from seaside VIC to the chilly climes of central NSW. Some were born into agricultural dynasties, others have not long been in the game, but all are family farmers running their own businesses with a sweat equity investment in their grass, money and livestock.
An environment of trust and sharing was established from the moment each business gave a five-minute introduction and from there the talking never ceased. Not that all stories were joyous, indeed some were particularly harrowing, for farming does pose its challenges. However the difference between this group and the media-portrayed whinger was their attitude, their acceptance of the responsibility for their own future, and their belief in a system that promotes harmony between business profit, animal welfare and environmental stewardship.
We heard talks on decision making and succession planning, did property tours looking at cell and rotational grazing of trade and breeding stock, got lessons in race drafting large mobs, were inspired by the younger generation of farmers, and ate like kings and queens. But the strength of the group was its willingness to share: to stand in front of peers and admit weaknesses, to offer suggestions, to question pre-conceived ideas, to challenge and be challenged.
It was a mighty few days and made me proud to be an Aussie Farmer. Whingers need not apply.