Dry forces Langshaw farmer to water 12,000L in two days
IT is an active lifestyle, but one lived at the mercy of the seasons.
This is how Steve Collett describes life as a lime farmer as the country today celebrates National Agriculture Day.
Mr Collett, the owner of the Lotza Limez farm at Langshaw with wife Jeannie, says it is a job with its ups and downs.
And the dry conditions at the moment are unfortunately one of the “downs”.
“I’m just trying to save trees,” Mr Collett says.
“I’ve put 12,000L out in the past two days.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that good crop seasons are one of the main ups.
“In a good season it’s not as hard to work,” he says.
The job is not solely about growing produce and putting it on the market, though.
It requires innovation and diversification to keep on top of the market.
“When you’ve had a good season, normally everyone has a good season,” Mr Collett says.
“So prices are down because there’s a glut of fruit on the market.”
He says farmers end up “wasting a lot of food” as a result, which has prompted him to innovate by creating a line of lime cordials.
“It’s waste utilisation … you’re getting something for it.”
And there is a catch with selling to shops, too – farmers are held hostage to the ideal of perfect fruit.
“When you send fruit to market, they only want your A-grade stuff,” Mrs Collett says.
“Where we are, with a lack of water … your fruit always has a mark on it because it’s struggling to survive,” she says.
“That’s a thing people don’t realise,” Mr Collett says.
“Organic fruit doesn’t look perfect but it’s actually much better for you.”
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This ties into what he feels is the biggest helping hand governments can give the agriculture sector right now – water security.
“You see them spend a lot of money in the southeast Queensland, but not big infrastructure projects for water,” he says.
“They have been talking for years about increasing the height of the (Borumba) dam … why don’t we do things like that?”
“You get frustrated.
“Governments are talking about building roads in southeast Queensland and doing a tunnel in Brisbane.”
Kandanga-based farmers Bruno and Trish Gabbana say there needs to be a shift at the consumer level, too.
“We believe in selling in the local area,” Mrs Gabbana says.
“But people won’t buy it locally.”
It is a hope shared by the National Farmers Federation, with research commissioned by the NFF showing two thirds of people feel disconnected by farmers.
To close this gap, Australians are being encouraged to celebrate National Agriculture Day by wearing a green shirt, share the #WeAreAustralianFarmers short film or host a barbecue or event.
They can also throw their hat into the ring for a chance to win $500 by sharing their #WeAreAusFarmers photos to the AgDay photo competition page.
NFF president Fiona Simson says the goal is to celebrate the values city and regional people share.
“We all live in the same modern world and are all motivated to create a better future for our families and the environment,” she says.
“It’s these values that drive our farmers to produce high quality food every day, for Australians and the world.”
The study also reveals 63 per cent have a positive opinion of the farming and agricultural industry.
Almost 80 per cent agree farmers, farming and agriculture make an important contribution to the national economy and society.