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AgLife: Helping rural communities thrive


Wimmera-Mallee farmers can hear from industry experts and learn about various projects designed to help rural communities thrive at a free agribusiness forum next week.

The Farm Trade Australia agribusiness forum will be at Horsham Golf Club on March 3 from 8.30am to 3pm.

Rupanyup farmer David Matthews launched the farmer-owned agribusiness last year amid increasing concern about the consolidation of farming enterprises, reduced returns and the flow-on effect to rural communities.

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Mr Matthews said he believed the most sustainable way to address social problems communities were facing was to find commercial solutions. 

He said Farm Trade Australia would seek to partner with organisations and companies that added value to farming businesses and rural communities. 

“We will look for organisations that feed into our prosperity, not off it,” he said.

“If a market is working effectively, we will work with it. If a market is extracting too much of the value created by our activity, we will find ways to correct this.”

Mr Matthews said Farm Trade Australia aimed to deliver a greater share of returns from agricultural production back to farmers and rural communities.

He said the forum would showcase the type of opportunities Farm Trade Australia was interested in pursuing, along with specific projects.

A range of guest speakers will take to the stage, including meteorologist and television weather presenter Jane Bunn.

“Jane will provide a season outlook, which is always at front of mind for farmers,” Mr Matthews said.

“She will also present her new farmer-focused weather app. We’re really pleased she’s able to come up for the event.”

Business Council of Co-Operatives  founder Rohan Clarke will lead a ‘Turning climate change into profit’ presentation.

“Discussion around climate change can be quite polarising but the reality is, whether you believe in climate change or not, there will be increased regulation and societal expectation,” Mr Matthews said. 

“Rather than debate climate change itself, we want to take a look at how we can turn changing regulations and expectations into a commercial advantage.”

Mr Clarke’s presentation will look at energy-production opportunities, such as solar, carbon and hydrogen. 

Speakers will also discuss rising land values from a banker’s perspective, ‘turning data into dollars’ and understanding the fertiliser market.

There will also be presentations on malt barley and high-fibre-wheat market projects.

“These are both really interesting projects which have identified business opportunities, focusing on the commercial side of farming,” Mr Matthews said. 

He said Farm Trade Australia involved a collective approach, allowing the region’s farmers to become involved in projects they might consider too difficult to pursue individually.

“As individuals we have little power, but, collectively our influence is immense,” he said.

Mr Matthews said he was excited to host the forum, which represented the first community engagement session following a year hampered by COVID-19 restrictions.

“We decided to hold off our activities last year until restrictions eased,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to our first event, which will provide a bit of context as to what we are about.

“We’ve been without this interaction for a long time, so it will be a great opportunity for farmers to meet up and ask questions. 

“There will be a good range of experience and knowledge among our presenters and people will be able to interact with them and each other.”

Mr Matthews encouraged people to register for the forum online at website

The event is free of charge and lunch and refreshments will be provided. 

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The entire February 24, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire February 24, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!