Strength through diversity

Cally DupeThe West Australian
Mingenew Midwest Expo committee members Justin Bagley and Geoff Cosgrove.
Camera IconMingenew Midwest Expo committee members Justin Bagley and Geoff Cosgrove. Credit: Countryman, Cally Dupe

Two Mingenew farmers have been championing diversity, saying it is key to strengthening agriculture in the region.

Justin Bagley and Geoff Cosgrove are just two of a number of locals working behind the scenes at the McIntosh & Son Mingenew Midwest Expo.

The farmers say the event’s theme this year, “Strength Through Diversity”, is particularly relevant for the Mingenew-Irwin district where farms host a variety of crops and livestock.

Mr Cosgrove, who farms alongside his family north-west of Mignenew, runs livestock and this year seeded 10,000ha of crops, comprising

5000ha of wheat, 1000ha of barley and 2000ha each of canola and lupins.

The family also has 3000ha of pasture or fallow, 2500 Merino ewes and 150 Angus breeding cattle.

“Those diverse income streams often mean that when one is not working, the other might be,” Mr Cosgrove said.

“This is our first year back in barley — we haven’t grown it for 10 years. We chose Spartacus barley, because we wanted to use a different group of chemicals to keep the weeds down.”

Mr Cosgrove said while some farmers in the Mingenew-Irwin district were solely grain growers, he enjoyed running livestock.

“A lot of guys have gone right out livestock. They have no fences left and are just continuous cropping,” he said.

“But I like having sheep and cattle. Sheep always gave us the option of leaving a paddock out and still having an income from that land.”

Record prices for wool have also been a boost to operations with sheep.

“It is impressive and good money if you are cutting plenty of it,” Mr Cosgrove said.

Mr Bagley, who farms south-east of Mingenew with his brother Braden, father David and worker Ben Solomon, said challenging seasonal conditions this year meant “diversity might be the key” for farms in the district.

“Businesses are stronger through diversity,” he said.

“Diversity is becoming very important in all farming aspects.”

The family’s property includes 50 head of Poll Hereford breeding cattle to complement a mixed-cropping program of canola, barley and wheat.

Mr Bagley said as a business, it was important to also be diverse in terms of the skills available on farm.

“You might have a mechanic at your farm, and those staff make all the difference,” he said.

To view the official Mingenew Midwest Expo program, pick up a copy of the August 10 edition of Countryman.

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