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Passion and Strength Focus of Ladies' Day

THE love for agriculture, farming and family shone through in the speakers at the SEPWA Ladies Day last month.

More than 100 women from across the Esperance Port Zone attended the event which focused on growing from strength to strength.

Chairwoman of the day, Angela Young, said the day was about encouraging women to be stronger and more resilient in what life dished up to them. She said it was also about being inspired by the speakers and catching up with new and old friends.

Keynote speaker and parenting expert Maggie Dent spoke of “juicy, wise, wonderful women” and had the crowd in fits of laughter with her self-deprecating humour.

She said everyone was meant to shine but sometimes people did stuff up in life but that we were all fabulously flawed and there was no perfect.

“Life is too precious to put things off and if you make a mistake, change direction, Ms Dent said.

She encouraged women to rebuild the sisterhood, pull out the best china to enjoy now and keep percolating and finding strength.

Narrogin farmer and farm consultant Danielle England, who is passionate about agriculture, spoke about how people make decisions and what influences those decisions.

Ms England said it was healthy to talk about your business with other people and she was excited about the establishment of formal business discussion groups through the Grain & Graze project, which would see farmers share information and help each other with their businesses and strategic direction.

Through her studies, Ms England came to the realisation that every other business with a turnover of more than $500,000 had a board to manage their risk and therefore she believed there was a lot of potential for farming businesses to put their decisions to the test through the establishment of a farm advisory board.
Real food lover and food consultant Kate Tonkin from Geraldton spoke about the diet industry and why keeping everyone confused was big business.

Ms Tonkin said people were dizzy and felt overwhelmed with the pressure of making the right food choices and feeling they should always be on some diet.

She said that unfortunately the food industry had turned wheat into a public enemy in the gluten free movement and she challenged all those with Thermo mixers to use their own wheat to grind flour and make bread.

“The diet industry is controlling us and you need to take control by keeping food simple and learning to love food again,” Ms Tonkin said.

“I encourage you to eat real food to find the real you and listen to your body,” Ms Tonkin said.

Local Esperance ladies Donna Purchase and Jodie Kirchner are the brains and creativity behind Sweet Events & Party Hire which was set up four years ago after they discovered they both had a love of planning and attending parties.

Their determination and persistence helped them achieve their passion. While Ms Purchase and Ms Kirchner believed it was important to have a vision, they recommended that you do not need to have a concrete plan as you needed to see where the journey took you as there were opportunities out there and you just needed to find them.

Rabobank’s Stephen Kelly spoke about building capacity in rural communities and what the bank was doing to stop people leaving the farm and heading to the city.

He said there are high returns in agriculture and it was a safe industry to be involved in but they were struggling to retain and attract people into the industry.

Rabobank is addressing the issue through knowledge partnerships which include mentoring programs, youth engagement that will address the knowledge gap of food production amongst youth and co-funding an Australian Grains Institute capacity building project that will identify skill gaps and promote the grains industry.

“Slow down and enjoy the ride” was the message delivered by Tiffany Brown from Esperance Roadwise.
With harvest fast approaching, Ms Brown used the opportunity to talk about the latest road safety campaign which focuses more on changing driver behaviour and getting them to focus on what really matters and appreciate today.

She encouraged everyone to treat their vehicle as a sanctuary and shut the door on the world of speed - slow down and enjoy the ride.

CBH’s Colin Tutt spoke about the supply chain in grain markets.

He said the WA supply chain was viewed as more reliable and attracted a premium.

However Mr Tutt said there was an issue between the ability to supply and demand which could create an opportunity for another supply chain to be built in WA.

He said to avoid that, CBH needed to change.

“We need to increase supply and rationalise the network to increase productivity and secure rail as a result there will be a lot of changes happening within CBH over the next five years,” Mr Tutt said.

The voice of the outback and local author, Fleur Parnell-McDonald, shared her personal story and the challenges she has faced.

Ms Parnell-McDonald first started with writing a children’s book to help her son and it made her realise what she loved doing and she turned her focus to rural romance.

With a desire to bridge the gap between city and country, Ms Parnell-McDonald knew that once she got her work published she would have the ear of the people who didn’t know much about farming.

Her first novel, Red Dust, was positively rejected and later became a best seller which was also followed with the release of several other books including her latest novel Emerald Springs.

Local agronomists Monica Field and Sam Repacholi spoke about the great season the Esperance region was currently having and some of the issues farmers were facing, including glyphosate resistance in ryegrass.

SEPWA’s Alice Butler followed with information on the SEPWA DIY Precision Agriculture project which is about managing different areas of the farm as required and tailoring the inputs on an as needs basis to address agronomic issues.

Nigel Metz, SEPWA’s technology guru, spoke about the on-going problems and frustrations for farmers in terms of data connection and mobile coverage and what options SEPWA has been investigating.

The final speaker was GRDC Western Panel member and Quairading farmer, Shauna Stone who shared the challenges of farming in a frost and drought prone area.
In 2010, they received only 82mm of rain for the growing season.

Ms Stone is a big believer in climate change.

Following a lot of emotional ups and downs and highly variable yields and in a bid to get away from the frost prone sands and low rainfall they purchased a property west of Kojonup in 2012 where they now have the rainfall, soil type and rocks.


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