Kondinin Group and ABC Rural 2023 Australian Farmer of the Year Winner
New South Wales duo, Tess and Andrew Herbert, aren't afraid to take on a challenge and it is their tenacity and effective business agility that earns them the title of Kondinin Group and ABC Rural 2023 Australian Farmer of the Year. Tess and Andrew are the directors of Gundamain Pastoral Co., a sixth-generation farming enterprise in Eugowra, Central West NSW. When Tess and Andrew assumed operational control in the 1990s, the business identified as a small, mixed farming enterprise. With the construction of a new feedlot in 2000, the business grew rapidly. Gundamain now involves a 6000 head cattle feedlot, 6500- 7000 ewes for lamb and wool production, 5500 hectares (ha) of cropping, hay silage and pasture, with some 400ha of remnant vegetation.
Young Farmer of the Year, sponsored by McDonald’s Australia
A fifth-generation grower, Mitchell manages his family's century-old orchard in Ardmona, Victoria, where together with his parents, he grows more than 60 hectares of apples, pears, and plums. With an eye on long-term viability within the horticulture industry, Mitchell is always looking at new varieties and improved systems to develop the best quality produce and return per hectare. Part of those considerations is the inclusion of agtech on-farm, and the development of high-density plantings to suit the climate and conditions across different fruit varieties. "Integrating technology and new growing systems is critical to the long-term prosperity of our family orchard," Mitchell said.
Rural Community Leader of the Year
Community connectiveness in rural and regional Australia is vital to the ongoing success of our agricultural industry, and no one appreciates that more than 2023 Rural Community Leader of the Year award winner, Jackie Elliott. Jackie is the founder of Rural Women's Day, a not-for-profit initiative aimed at connecting rural and regional women through community, collaboration and celebration. Jackie developed the initiative after moving to Byaduk, in the Western District of Victoria. Jackie found it difficult to meet other women in the region, where social events predominantly revolved around country sports. "Feeling a sense of belonging and connection is such an important part of rural living, and when I moved to Byaduk, I really struggled to build those networks," Jackie said.
Rural Consultant of the Year
Agriculture and sustainability specialist Ingrid Roth has supported rural industries, research organisations and communities around Australia over the past 25 years with her practical knowledge and expertise and this year, is awarded Rural Consultant of the Year as part of the 2023 Australian Farmer of the Year Awards. Ingrid brings her practical knowledge and experience to her work with rural industry peak bodies, rural research and development corporations, research providers, and individual farmers and farm advisors in establishing research strategy, sustainability frameworks, communications, leadership, extension, and evaluation metrics.
Agricultural Student of the Year
Jay Elliot is a prime example of how to follow your passions in agriculture, regardless of age. As a mature-aged student, Jay is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Science, Animal Science/Animal Health at Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia. With initial interest in becoming a vet, Jay realised there were so many other options in agriculture that she hadn't explored. While her passion still lies in livestock, but she has broadened her experience during her studies by participating in a six-week scholarship in Indonesia. The scholarship was part of the Agricultural Professional Practicum through Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country' Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) Study Indonesia. Jay was part of a small cohort of 90 students from around Australia who travelled over to Indonesia, and the learning and connections made during the six-weeks have solidified her passion for the agricultural industry.
Award for Excellence in Innovation
Progressive third-generation farmer and industry advocate, Tony Single, is the recipient of the 2023 Award for Excellence in Innovation. A previous trials agronomist, Tony returned to the family farm near Baradine, southeast of Coonamble, New South Wales in 2011 and now farms alongside his parents John and Mary, with wife Sharon and their two daughters. Cropping about 4400 hectares, Tony grows a mixture of winter cereals, oilseeds and pulses, along with sorghum over the summer. The Singles also have a trade cattle enterprise, utilising native and improved sub-tropical pastures.
Excellence in Technology, sponsored by New Holland
Ray Taylor's sophisticated application of technology on his family-owned and operated farm has earned him the 2023 Award for Excellence in Technology, sponsored by New Holland. Ray is the General Manager of Taylor Family Produce - a 90-year-old horticultural operation spread across two properties in Queensland. A fourth generation Taylor on the farm, and the eldest of three brothers, Ray oversees 191 hectares of growing lands on the Granite Belt of the State. Taylor Family Produce grow and market five main products to wholesalers and major supermarkets on the east coast of Australia. These include iceberg lettuce, wombok (Chinese cabbage), celery, cauliflower and silverbeet. Given operations are spread across two locations, Amiens and Kalbar on the Scenic Rim, production is a year-round venture.
Award for Excellence in Diversification, sponsored by Corteva.
Thinking outside the box and diversifying his farm production with a focus on the future has earned Mark Foletta the 2023 Award for Excellence in Diversification and Sustainability, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience. Mark manages a 450ha traditional farming enterprise 12 km south of Benalla in northeast Victoria along with his own 10ha of high-value horticultural land. Together with his father, Mark produces Angus cattle, prime lambs and Merino wool, as well as wine grapes and lucerne. In recent years Mark has diversified, successfully applying for the first Victorian licence to harvest one-to-two tonnes of wild mushrooms annually, and planting two hectares of cherry trees and almost a hectare to heritage pumpkin varieties.
Dr Robert Magarey: 2023 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research sponsored by ACAIR.
Queensland's Dr Robert Magarey has dedicated his career to research within the Australian sugarcane industry and his significant contribution is recognised with the 2023 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research, sponsored by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). Robert started his sugarcane pathology career in June 1981 and has spent most of that time located in Tully, northern Queensland. Currently the Leader for Disease Management with Sugar Research Australia - Australia's specialist sugarcane research organisation - Robert has accumulated considerable knowledge of Australian diseases and has written field guides for both Australian and exotic diseases.