Agricultural avengers assemble

Countryman

An historic gathering of agricultural luminaries at Claremont Showground on Tuesday provided a glimpse of the powerhouse of talent responsible for defining modern agriculture in WA.

Agricultural Hall of Fame members John Gladstones, Noel Fitzpatrick, Kevin Hogan, Peter Falconer, Jano Foulkes-Taylor, Rex Edmondson, John Bennison, Lou Giglia, emeritus Professor David Lindsay and Dawson Bradford were attending the unveiling of a portrait by artist John Carrol of 2015 inductee Michael Lloyd.

Royal Agricultural Society of WA president Rob Wilson said the group’s expertise had extended to most facets of the industry including dairy, sheep, viticulture, research and development, horticulture, farm management, conservation and land management, and community engagement.

Dr Wilson said that education was the key to attracting talent to agriculture and providing the opportunities to nurture leaders of the future.

Since RASWA established the Hall of Fame in 1999 to acknowledge the pioneers and leaders of the State’s second biggest industry, 60 people have been inducted.

Dr Gladstones is celebrated the world over for identifying the potential of the Margaret River region for premium wine production.

As director-general of the Department of Agriculture, 2006 inductee Noel Fitzpatrick steered WA to success as a major wheat producer.

Mr Falconer played a major part in the professional development of farm-management consulting which, today is used by 40 per cent of West Australian farmers who produce more than 60 per cent of the State’s agricultural produce.

Mr Hogan was the founding chairman of the Mt Marshall Community Support Group that gave confidence and support to many farmers struggling to remain solvent in the face of crippling interest bills in the 1980s.

Mrs Foulkes-Taylor has been recognised for her role in conservation, commitment to diversifying enterprises in the rangelands and to educational, communicational and social changes that have allowed young people to acquire the skills to live and work successfully in the region.

In an effort to redress the rampant problems of salinity, erosion and degradation of soil, Mr Edmondson was the face and a major driving force behind the development of Land Care.

As chief executive of Wesfarmers, John Bennison was instrumental in transforming WA’s largest rural company by expanding its commercial horizons successfully into meat processing, production of fertilizer, distribution of gas and general retailing which increased the profits for its co-operative shareholders.

The dairy industry in Western Australia benefited in the period from 1970 to 2000 from the imposing influence of Mr Giglia. He founded the Ponderosa herd of Holstein Friesian cattle in 1962 and over the next 40 years his animals dominated in production figures and in show rings in Western Australia.

Professor Lindsay’s research into understanding and combating practical problems associated with poor fertility and survival in the State’s sheep flock took on worldwide significance and became the focus of scores of overseas researchers and students in the field of reproductive physiology.

Mr Bradford stands out among the most progressive and successful farmers and agricultural administrators in WA. His prime lamb enterprises show that he is a true pioneer in a rapidly evolving industry.

Landcare champion Mr Lloyd’s farm was one of thousands affected by salinity, probably the most important physical threat to the State’s agriculture in the 20th century.

He set about understanding the problem and testing solutions through revegetation on a large scale on his own property.

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