City slickers get farming answers

Melissa WilliamsCountryman

Do cows have bad breath? Why do sheep make so much noise? How much meat do you get from a cow?

These were some of the curly questions posed by visitors to the Perth Royal Show during the popular 'Ask a Farmer' sessions that were held twice a day during the event.

The Ask a Farmer program is sponsored by Meat and Livestock Australia and runs during the Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane Royal Shows with a particular focus on the red meat industry. It was the second time it had been rolled out in Perth, with assistance from the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS).

This year a range of guest speakers from farming areas, Murdoch University, WAFarmers, the RAS Rural Ambassador program and the Department of Agriculture and Food spoke during the sessions.

New South Wales-based Shorthorn breeder and beef producer Megan Johnstone, of Trojan Shorthorns stud, told the audiences about cattle farming and beef industry integrity - and also fielded questions about sheep and general farming issues.

She said city people asked a wide range of questions and it was vital to promote a positive message and inform the general public about where their food came from and how it was produced.

"During the Perth Royal Show, I found many city people were very supportive of and quite knowledgeable about farmers and the farming industry and someone asked me directly how she could support farmers," she said.

Ms Johnstone explained to the crowd why breeders brought their livestock to the Perth Royal Show and how the animals were judged.

She talked about how Australian farmers were feeding the world with exports of red meat and how the National Livestock Identification System was unique in tracing stock movements for quality assurance.

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