TWO inspirational innovators in the agriculture industry were recognised on Saturday night.
The annual Green Agriculture Innovation Awards were presented at a dinner function at The Wharf Restaurant in Merimbula.
The recipients for this, the fifth and final GAIA presentation, were Lynne Strong and Tanya Privitera, both passionate advocates for the dairy industry.
Ms Strong initiated Dairy Youth Australia and the innovative Art4Agriculture programs including Picasso Cows and the Archibull Prize, which use art and multimedia to engage thousands of students across Australia in learning about the valuable role farmers play in our nation’s future.
When collecting her prize of $5000 she highlighted the future of farming lies with today’s youth – “people with fire in their bellies”.
Ms Privitera runs a small dairy herd – “they all have names” - with her family. She said her father Barry has supplied milk to Murray-Goulburn for 60 years.
She was one of the instigators of Gippsland Dairy Youth, served on the Dairy Committee of the Royal Melbourne Show, was a recipient of the $10,000 Victorian Rural Ambassador Award and winner of the Victorian Youth Fellowship competition.
The awards were presented by long-time Angledale dairy farmer Ken Kimber.
Mr Kimber started in the Bega Valley with 80 cows and now milks 1000 over 1800ha.
He is a convert to the green agriculture and healthy soil science advocated by, among others, GAIA organiser Dr Christine Jones.
Dr Jones congratulated the two award recipients, but was “humbled” by the great achievements of many in the room Saturday night.
“I really appreciate the venue, but the most special thing about tonight is the people here,” Dr Jones said.
“We are here to celebrate the two winners, but you all have such amazing achievements in your landscapes, on your farms and in your lives.
“I’m humbled and honoured to have you all here tonight.
“I hope you’re all feeling proud of what you have achieved.”
Dr Jones also shared a few thoughts on the Federal Government’s “Direct Action” policies – and not positive ones.
“We all got very excited last year with the carbon farming initiative, but since then not one single payment has been made to a farmer for soil carbon,” she said.
“We then were very excited before the election [about Direct Action], but there has been no talk since.
“On Thursday, the Coalition government announced that any movement on Direct Action would need to have an appropriation bill passed before any expenditure could happen and ‘maybe they’ll do something next year’.
“If you were holding your breath, breathe again now because it looks like it is going to take a very long time.”