Local producer up for award

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She’s a mother of three, juggling distance education and running a farm yet still finds the time to try and enact change in her industry.

Emma Robinson is one of five finalists for the 2016 Queensland Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation Rural Women’s Award.

Mrs Robinson has been praised for her work in trying to develop beef cooperatives in regional Queensland.

“There’s been a lot in the media about the end of ‘Ma and Pa’ farms, that we can’t compete with the bigger scale, so I’ve been interested for some time in what other models there are,” she says.

“How family farmers can compete when most of the beef industry is made up of multinational, heavily consolidated companies, so what the place is for family farmers in that kind of environment.”

She’s a commercial beef producer living about an hour and a half south of Charters Towers and says smaller producers need to work together if they’re going to bridge the gap.

“Producers can do a lot by working together to increase scale and increase efficiency and introduce new standards and systems to give us more of a margin,” she says.

It’s the system she saw operating while on a three month trip to the UK, US and Canada last year.

“In many other countries producers are working together to increase their scale, their efficiency and their market influence,” she says.

“Whether that’s through alliances or cooperatives or a collective marketing arrangement.

“They’re working together.”

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Mrs Robinson is hoping to use the platform of the award to open dialogues with important parties including our government bodies.

“It’s a good opportunity to keep speaking about cooperatives and to promote different thinking about agriculture,” she says.

Overseas government have legislations in place that gives farmers a boost in their attempts to market their products collectively, giving them some form of leverage over larger companies.

It’s these ideas and ventures that earnt her the prestigious nomination.

“I’d hoped (I’d be nominated} but you never really know how your project stacks up against the others,” she says.

The winner, announced next Wednesday, February 24, will receive a $10,000 bursary to put towards their chosen project.

“My project is called ‘The Beef Co-op Project’ and it’s about promoting cooperate agriculture in the beef industry, it’s about promoting the ideas and the way cooperatives and assist producers,” she says.

“Ultimately I want to form a beef cooperate and hopefully in the future there will be lots of cooperatives.”

Agriculture Minister Leanne Donaldson described all finalists as “inspirational” and “innovative”, saying the award is aimed at identifying future leaders.

“They have each demonstrated a commitment to agriculture and are regarded as visionaries and future industry leaders,” Minster Donaldson says.

“The Rural Women’s Award enables us to recognise the significant contribution women are making to ensure our primary industries are innovative, profitable and sustainable.”

Mrs Robinson is calling on any producers interested in cooperative opportunities to visit her Facebook page.