Farming on a plate

Jenne Brammer and Brad ThompsonCountryman

The threat of rain last Saturday meant crowds were down on previous years, but that did not detract from the annual Farmer on Your Plate event held in Perth’s Forrest Chase.

The event, now in its fourth year, aims to showcase WA family farming to city dwellers, and is an initiative of Farming Champions, chaired by Kukerin farmer, former Rural Woman of the Year, and Cambinata Yabbies co-owner Mary Nenke.

Farming Champions engages with the community about the importance of family farms and the high quality of Australian food.

The event celebrates the importance of agriculture to Australia and connects consumers to the farmers who produce their food.

Speaking at the event, Mrs Nenke said less than 1 per cent of the Australian population were farmers, but they provided 93 per cent of the food for Australians, and in addition, food for 60 million people internationally.

Meanwhile the complete agricultural supply chain provides 1.6 million jobs in Australia and 12 per cent of the nation’s GDP.

She also highlighted the challenges in rural WA, such as many children leaving home at age 11 for education and the huge transport costs for parents visiting their children.

“Technology can help to overcome some of the problems associated with distance, as long as the technology works,” she said.

Mrs Nenke later said although people scurried for cover when it rained, stall holders reported great interest and good sales of their locally-grown agricultural products.

Among the farmers attending the event were Nicola and Shane Kelliher, part of a growing trend for farmers to create their own brands to give consumers a stronger connection to where and how their food is produced.

The couple haven’t looked back since meeting through the Desperately Seeking Sheila television series more than a decade ago and recently launched Wandering Clover Fed Beef.

Mr Kelliher said the family welcomed the chance to talk to consumers about their farming methods.

“We are passionate about the beef industry and about cattle,” he said.

“I have grown up with them and enjoy working with them.

“Sometimes the criticism levelled at farmers is that they are only using animals to make money and only interested in making money.

“In actual fact, the happier, healthier and the more stress-free the animals are, the more profitable they are.”

The cattle processed under their brand are accredited under the national pasture-fed cattle assurance system.

They are hormone free, antibiotic free and bred to have a calm nature.

Mr Kelliher said sometimes even farmers didn’t realise how fortunate they were to have WA recognised internationally as a source of clean and green food.

“That is something we should promote and try to enhance as much as we possibly can,” he said.

Other speakers on the day included CBH chairman Wally Newman, who shared his knowledge and passion for the grains industry with city dwellers.

The event featured a range of free attractions including a performance by the Royal Australian Navy’s Admirals Own Big Band.

Leading WA chefs, including restaurant owner and executive chef Chris Taylor from Frasers Restaurant cooked beef pork, fish and yabbies, which were handed out to the public without charge.

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