Kondinin Group and ABC Rural 2022 Australian Farmer of the Year
Sixth-generation wool grower Michael Taylor, whose family has farmed in the New England region of NSW for more than 180 years, has built a reputation around his future-focused approach to farming and takes his role in the sustainability of the Australian agricultural industry seriously. Through tree planting and rotational grazing, Michael has increased stocking capacity, lambing percentages, reduced degradation, and sequestered carbon for the future. Taylors Run is both the Taylor family’s farm name and wool brand, providing a distinct marketing arm for the farm’s superfine wool Merinos and Angus beef cattle. Agroforestry has contributed significantly to Michael’s farm, supporting his aim to run a sustainable and regenerative enterprise.
Young Farmer of the Year, sponsored by McDonald’s Australia
Together with his parents, Brad Egan operates a broadacre cropping enterprise in Scaddan, about 60km northeast of Esperance, Western Australia. Brad has enthusiastically introduced a range of data analysis tools and science into the farm’s management toolkit, which has impressed many within the industry. He has played a large part in implementing innovative farm management practices into the business; managing all of the Agdata on farm and analysing it to better characterise soils, understand production constraints, and gain valuable insight into their financial position.
Farming Legend of the Year
Involved in a multitude of roles – from cattleman through to past Vice President of the NSW Farmers’ Association – Richard Wright has played an integral part in the development of the Australian cattle industry. The Wright family owned Jeogla Station in the northern tablelands of NSW, approximately 50 kilometres east of Armidale, from 1902 to 1998. Richard managed the 5650-hectare Station for thirty years and during his time at Jeogla, was involved in many initiatives. Richard has taken on leadership roles within industry, including at NSW Farmers, National Farmers’ Federation and the Cattle Council of Australia. He also helped establish what is now known as Auctions Plus and now, has helped establish a rural skills training course for indigenous Australians at Trelawney in Tamworth.
Rural Community Leader of the Year
Dairy farmer Sarah Parker from Undera, Victoria, has committed hundreds of hours volunteering for numerous organisations for the betterment of her community and the greater industry. All while running a full-time dairy with her husband, Raymond. Sarah is passionate about giving back to her community and supporting the growth of those in the industry; working with a range of organisations to improve conditions, advance causes, highlight issues and provide opportunities for people to get involved, grow their skills and knowledge and connect with others.
Rural Consultant of the Year, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience
Matt Norton’s collaborative and solutions-orientated approach has earned him a prominent reputation within the agricultural community. Matt is a town planning and environmental compliance consultant based in Toowoomba, Queensland. Starting his agricultural consulting career during 2016, Matt services intensive livestock activities across Australia, with a focus on the lot feeding, pork, and poultry sectors. It is Matt’s ability to simplify and communicate regulation to farmers to ensure they get the best development or compliance outcome, while minimising stress and delays, which has made him an asset to the industry.
Agricultural Student of the Year, sponsored by AgriFutures Australia
James Easter is proof that you don't need to be raised on a farm to want a successful and fulfilling career in agriculture. In his third year of a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Adelaide, James has developed an incredible passion for agriculture. In addition to his studies, James has taken on the role of President of the Agriculture Students Association, organising industry networking events such as Growing the Future, Agtivate Your Career and a mentoring program. James’ ultimate goal? To get more people to consider the field of agriculture as a career.
Award for Excellence in Innovation, sponsored by Telstra
In addition to the innovative practices Brad has implemented on-farm, he also shares his knowledge and experiences with other young farmers in the region and has spoken at various field days, farm visits and industry events. Brad is the Vice Chair of South East Premium Wheat Growers Association’s (SEPWA) Youth in Ag; organising events to connect the large population of youth in agriculture in the Esperance region and promote the work SEPWA does. Brad and his family have also taken steps to support local businesses in the area and are currently supplying raw grain to the local brewery.
Excellence in Technology, sponsored by New Holland
James Venning is a 31-year-old father of two, who manages the family farming enterprise ‘Barunga Grains’ situated near Bute on the Northern Yorke Peninsula of SA. Barunga Grains continuously crops 4700 hectares of wheat, barley, canola, and lentils on predominantly dune swale country. Returning to the farm after high school, James has taken on a real leadership role particularly when appreciating how technology can support good business decision making. He introduced several innovative solutions to the business to improve productivity both short term and for the future, including using soil sensing technology to gain a better understanding of the property and what it requires to perform.
Award for Excellence in Diversification
Jake is an innovative young producer from Manjimup, Western Australia. On his family farm, Jake manages an intensive program including the production of cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and kale; sheep and cows; and chickens for pasture-raised eggs. Jake also has a focus on diversity, soil biological activity and storage and nutrient cycling. He is passionate about regenerative agriculture and have adopted many innovative strategies to help the farm develop into a more sustainable operation. Recently, Jake was one of nine individuals worldwide to win Corteva Agriscience’s Climate Positive Leader award, which will see him traveling and meeting up with the other winners to discuss climate positive methods to adopt and how to share this with the wider public.
Dr Kate Gunn—Excellence in Agricultural Research, sponsored by ACIAR
Adelaide, South Australia
A clinical psychologist, Kate is a Senior Research Fellow leading a team in the Department of Rural Health at the University of SA. Kate’s team combine what research shows is likely to help farmers change their behaviour and improve their wellbeing, with farmers’ strengths, beliefs, and preferences, so that new strategies are more likely to work, be meaningful and be adopted in the real world. Much of Kate’s passion for this area of research stem from growing up on, and staying closely connected to, her family’s farm near Streaky Bay in SA. Kate saw firsthand the impacts of poor mental health in her community, and the consequences of people not seeking help.