TWO young people working for the future of agriculture and one who has spent more than three decades in the field have been recognised at the annual Agricultural Bureau of SA Spirit of Agriculture awards.
Nuriootpa goat breeder Tracy Bonython was awarded the $8000 DEWNR Sustainable Agriculture Scholarship for Young Farmers to assist her in plans to develop the paddock-to-plate business of her and husband Owen.
They started their goat meat business from the Barossa Valley family farm operated by Tracy’s parents in 2013 and Ms Bonython will use the scholarship for a study tour in Vic, and to investigate sustainable feed and fencing options to grow their business vision.
“My husband and I knew that traditional farming was an option for us, but we also knew that diversifying and doing something different could really help us to secure our place in Agriculture and build a future on the family farm,” she said.
“We love the principles behind paddock to plate and we want to offer people quality goat meat that they can trace from the farm to their plate.”
Ms Bonython said there was real potential in the goat meat industry, with Vic leading the way and NSW not far behind.
“Australia has amazing lamb and amazing beef and we want to have goat in there too,” she said.
The scholarship was previously known at the Peter Olsen Fellowship and has been renamed to recognise Peter and Wendy Olsen and their passion to sustainable agriculture and landcare in SA.
Aspiring agriculture teacher Kayla Starkey, Mount Pleasant, was awarded the 2017 Rural Youth Bursary, sponsored by PIRSA.
She is studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences through the University of Adelaide and aims to complete a Masters in Teaching.
Ms Starkey plans to use the $5000 bursary to attend the National Association of Agricultural Educators conference in Launceston, Tas, in January.
“I will get to see other agriculture teachers in Australia and use this as a networking opportunity with future colleagues and also as a study tour to see what Tas agriculture has to offer,” she said.
“I want to teach people what agriculture is really about.”
Agricultural Bureau of SA chair Mark Grossman said this year’s group of finalists was one of the most challenging for the selection panel.
“They all excelled in their particular areas,” he said.
“Going by how challenging it was for the judges to decide on the winners this year, the future of agriculture in our state could not be brighter.”
The evening also had PIRSA stalwart Greg Cock, Mount Barker, recognised with the 2017 services to primary production award.
Mr Cock has spent more than 30 years working within PIRSA in a range of roles at Loxton, Murray Bridge, Lenswood, Mount Barker, Waite and Adelaide, as well as working with the Ag Bureau.
He said he had enjoyed the breadth of his career and the changes and opportunities that offered.
A particular highlight for his career came during the “grim time” of the 2006-11 drought.
“A bunch of us got together, with a lot of support from across government, and I think we did a lot of good,” he said.
“We didn’t take the pain away for a lot of farmers but we did have a way forward.
“That was personally, and professionally, very rewarding.”