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JUNE 2018 EDITION NO. 12

Angels in disguise

HERE TO HELP: Drought Angels’ Jenny Gailey and Tash Johnston in front of donated hay which is stored at the back of their new premises in Chinchilla. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Simple idea has grown into major operation, and it’s getting bigger: PAGE 3


2 WESTERN DOWNS FARMER

chinchillanews.com.au Thursday, June 28, 2018

Welcome IT’S NEARLY the middle of the year and just like most of our western cousins who are choking on a lot more dust than we are, we’ve seen little decent rain across the Western Downs. This has led to a smaller than average winter crop plant, and the lower chickpea prices has meant many of those who may have planted them have instead moved to other crops like barley. In better news, the cotton season has wrapped up on a good note with prices going as high as $650 a bale. I talk to the gin operators in Dalby to see how the quality of this season’s crop is and how the season fared overall. You can also get the real story behind the pretty pink bales which have been dotting paddocks across the Downs. Western Downs Farmer was on deck at FarmFest so check out the team’s coverage to find out about the best farming products and technology on show. Megan Masters also has a story about some of the best wool prices sheep producers have seen in years. Enjoy this edition and let’s hope there’s been decent rain to do enough good by the time our spring edition arrives. — Jacinta Cummins

contact us

NOT GOOD ENOUGH: Live sheep waiting to be loaded onto an export ship.

PHOTO: MEAD LEON

‘They will suffer’ Littleproud’s comments set to further divide producers

EDITOR Jacinta Cummins, Phone 07 4672 9900, Email editorial@chinchillanews.com.au ADVERTISING (DALBY HERALD) Nicole McDougall, Phone 07 4672 5502, Email nicole.mcdougall@dalbyherald.com.au GENERAL MANAGER Erika Brayshaw, Phone 07 4672 9921, erika.brayshaw@chinchillanews.com.au All material published in Western Downs Farmer is subject to copyright provisions. No part of this publication may be reproduced without prior written permission for the publisher. DISCLAIMER: The information contained within Western Downs Farmer is given in good faith and obtained from sources believed to be accurate. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. The Chinchilla News or Dalby Herald will not be liable for any opinion or advice contained herein.

FEDERAL Agriculture Minister and Member for Maranoa David Littleproud urged live sheep trade opponents to “check their moral compass” because if Australia stopped exporting its sheep, they would simply be sourced from other countries with fewer safeguards in place for the beasts’ well-being. He was quoted by The Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy in early June as saying “If it’s not our sheep and our cattle going to the Middle East, it will be another nation’s sheep and cattle, that doesn’t have the standards we do”. “And you know what, if we think we can bury our head in the pillow and close our eyes and think it’s all over – well I ask about the moral compass of those people because there will be animals that suffer.” The minister expressed shock in early April when he saw the footage from the voyage where some 2400 sheep out of nearly 64,000 had died on a shipment from Western Australia to the Middle East in August 2017. “This is total bullshit – you can’t put it any other way – this is disgusting.” Mr Littleproud immediately launched a

I ask about the moral compass of those people because there will be animals that suffer.

— David Littleproud

review of the trade but the government dropped its intended response legislation in May amid concerns some Coalition members would cross the floor and vote against it. The legislation would have decreased sheep stocking density on the ships by 39 per cent and required better ventilation for the animals as well as increasing penalties for company directors who broke the laws. This falls short of Labor’s calls to abandon the trade altogether or halting it from May to October during the northern summer as recommended by the Australian Veterinary Association. The Australian Live Exporters’ Council estimates the live sheep trade is worth

$250 million. Liberal MP Sussan Ley has put up a private member’s bill calling for live sheep exports to be stopped during the northern summer with a five year plan to totally ban the transport of sheep and lambs on any routes through the Persian Gulf and Red Sea. Several Liberal MPs are expected to back Ms Ley’s bill. But Mr Littleproud, fresh from his country listening tour with the Prime Minister to outback NSW and western Queensland, remains steadfast that the trade should not be banned, but can be more humanely managed with better regulations in place and punishments enforced on exporters who fail to comply with them. In Ms Murphy’s article, Mr Littleproud also accused city folk of not understanding the production systems of farming. Combined with his directive to live export opponents to check “their moral compass”, the minister’s sentiments will likely only deepen the divide between opponents of the trade and producers rather than help achieve any resolution to the problem.

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Angels spread wings

New op shop and premises Jacinta Cummins

ON THE RUN: Volunteers load hay for a farmer while he has a break at the Begonia Hay Run.

PHOTOS: CONTRIBUTED

Tash Johnston with some of the supplies which went to those doing it tough because of the drought.

Jenny Gailey in the Angels’ new op shop.

Snip, snip go the scissors as hairdressers volunteered their time to come to the rescue with some much needed hair cuts.

their wings. After years of operating out of one shop and juggling supplies between containers at different locations across town, the organisation realised they were too big for their premises. So they moved into 29 Malduf Street, Chinchilla in mid-April and they haven’t looked back. Drought Angels is now a one-stop shop which offers a bigger op shop, a furniture section and also storage for much needed supplies and gifts for their regular drought runs.

The grocery section is pretty sparse at the moment and something they’d like to see more donations of to send hampers to farming families. “We’ve got a pallet stacked with items which is our drought run kitchen so we can just turn up and get started; it saves us so much time having everything all under the one roof.” Jenny said using every donation was incredibly important to the charity. “We won’t give any of our farmers expired food, so if we see some of our food is close to expiry, we sell it through the

shop and the money goes straight back into the kitty,” she said. “At the moment, we are really looking for men’s gifts, we’ve been absolutely overwhelmed with things for kids and women – one generous person even donated six cosmetic cases that also had a $50 note hidden in it when we opened them up. “But often we don’t have a lot for the men and most of the time they’re the ones who really need the lift, even if they won’t admit it.” Tash has just returned from

The new premises even has an impromptu haystack out the back thanks to a Cambooya farmer who just donated 44 round bales of hay. The move to the new premises has been a godsend. “It’s amazing, we’ve only been here about two months and already we have no idea how we managed at the old shop with just a container out the back for storage,” Jenny said as she shows the grocery section, shelves heavy laden with tomato and barbecue sauce.

a trip to NSW and said it’s a grim outlook. She is urging anyone to check in on your mate, or anyone you know out west. But if you don’t know anyone out west, it’s easy to help. You can donate, you can check out the op shop to see if you can bag a bargain or you could donate some men’s packs or you can buy tickets for their fundraiser, The Stockman’s Stampede, in Chinchilla on July 21. In the case of these rural fairy godmothers, it’s not so much “bibbity bobbity boo” as “What can I do to help you?”

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THEY could be mistaken for the fairy godmother that young girls dream of. But they don’t convert coaches into pumpkins and they don’t have a wand – they’re much more hands on than that. They offer hay for your cows, groceries and hair cuts for your family and just as importantly, a friendly ear when the going gets tough out west. They are Chinchilla’s own Drought Angels. And unlike the fairy godmother, these women are real and are looking for anything which can alleviate the plight of those affected by drought. Founded by two Chinchilla ladies in 2014 after they loaded some hay up in their utes and took it out west to give farmers a hand, Drought Angels officially became a charity in 2016. Jenny and Tash work full-time while a team of 20 volunteers run the op shop, the proceeds of which are used to help farmers while anywhere from 30-50 volunteers join as support crew for the renowned hay runs. They’ve done 13 hay runs, but the name doesn’t do the trip justice. There’s a lot more to a hay run than trucks of hay. They arrive laden with presents and essentials for those who sometimes can’t even afford basic necessities like toothpaste, much less life’s little luxuries. They also bring much needed feed to keep stock going just that bit longer. For those who haven’t stepped inside a hair salon in a while, volunteer hairdressers can tame their manes, or in the case of some of the older blokes, just work with what they’ve got left! And now the time has come for Drought Angels to spread

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GPS tech the next big thing for farms Sam Flanagan A HALLMARK of CRT FarmFest is the focus on innovation, technology and precision farming products. Ainsworth Motors and Machinery Chinchilla were at FarmFest this year highlighting the latest technology in farming and GPS systems for tractors and other equipment. Self-steering machinery has become an important part of agriculture, which was reflected in the Federal Budget earlier this year when the government announced $64 million to improve the accuracy of GPS data to within 5cm. Ainsworth Motors and Machinery Chinchilla dealer principal Gerard Bellgrove said the technology was already in use in the region and was hopeful FarmFest would inspire more people to utilise it. “Farmers are adopting precision agriculture very quickly, including our area,” Mr Bellgrove said. He said the GPS worked through a base station network in the area and was a very efficient practice. “Instead of being like the GPS in your car which can be a metre accurate, our

base stations get our customers down to one inch of accuracy, so that’s what currently is in place,” he said. “It enables them to do different farming practices and... cost-saving things. They stop overlapping – they’re not double planting, double spraying, missing bits which grow weeds – so it enables them to save money, save cost, save time. “It also is easier on the farmers because the machines steer themselves, so they haven’t got to concentrate on steering all day. The machine does it itself and does it a lot more accurately than a human can do it.” Mr Bellgrove added government funding was a godsend for farmers struggling financially who still wanted to invest in the technology. “And that’s why the government has brought it in – it will make farming more efficient, so make food production better,” he said. “It’s pretty good news for farmers, especially if they can access this technology for cheaper than what it currently costs.”

Fest the best of

KEEN EYE: Chinchilla Ainsworth Motors’ Gerard Bellgrove discussed the benefits of GPS technology for landholders. PHOTO: BROOKE DUNCAN

ALTHOUGH numbers were slightly down due to dry conditions, thousands still converged on Kingsthorpe Park on the Warrego Highway for this year’s FarmFest to experience the latest in agricultural innovation and gain a better understanding of what breeds success in the industry. FarmFest, which has been in existence for just shy of five decades, gives businesses from within the region and around the country the platform to build their brand awareness.

FarmFest, which has been in existence for just shy of five decades, gives businesses ... the platform to build their brand It also allows farmers to display and launch new products into the market, all while comparing their latest equipment with competitors. More than 2500 individual companies and organisations were on hand, with

participants offering a variety of products and services to suit farmer and consumer needs. There was everything on display from ATV’s to augers, grain-handling equipment to tractors, drones to

boom-sprays, tanks to sawmills and much more, and the quality yet again failed to disappoint. The agri-expo has improved on participation numbers year on year, as businesses look to capitalise on a heightened level of intrigue surrounding technology advancements in the agricultural sector and how that can lead to sustained profitability. Added to its focus on innovation, FarmFest refuses to forget about some of the more traditional farming practices, as it boasts one of

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WESTERN DOWNS FARMER 5

Thursday, June 28, 2018 dalbyherald.com.au

BIG NUMBERS: Thousands converged at Kingsthorpe Park on the Warrego Highway for this year’s CRT FarmFest. PHOTOS: NICOLE MCDOUGALL

farming the state’s biggest livestock competitions, with exhibitors young and old demonstrating their steers and handling skills to a judging panel. The livestock competition consisted of a variety of categories that included the school and college, open, junior handlers, junior judges and stud cattle sections, with a large crowd on hand in support. Not only did it enable the industry’s next generation to learn important skills in relation to the handling of livestock and improve on their

public speaking capacity, it allowed them to mix with like-minded people. As innovation remains at the heart of the new era of farming in Australia, FarmFest will continue to play a large role in the promotion and distribution of the newest and inventive technology that this country has to offer for many years to come, all while continuing to recognise the already-established applications that have made farming and agriculture a pillar of the nation’s economy for centuries.

The livestock competition consisted of a variety of categories including the school and college, open, junior handlers, junior judges and stud cattle sections.

Wattle Grove Speckle Park Stud showcased their cattle at this year’s CRT FarmFest, including this impressive bull.

School livestock leads the way

NUMBER ONE: Mitchell Franz from Dalby State High School took out the blue ribbon in the Class One steer competition at this year’s FarmFest. PHOTO: NICOLE MCDOUGALL

BOASTING one of the best livestock competitions in the state, handlers and their livestock descended upon Kingsthorpe Park last week to compete at FarmFest. The livestock competition consisted of a variety of categories that included the school and college, open, junior handlers, junior judges and stud cattle sections, of which Dalby was well-represented. In the individual categories, Dalby State High School’s Lauren Kelly came away with the win in the Young Judges competition, while her schoolmate Mitchell Franz triumphed in the Class One Steer competition.

Our students rose to the occasion and put their best foot forward...

— Sue Burrowes

They also achieved multiple podium finishes as Charlie Tucker, Dan Gray and Mitchell Franz took home second, third and fourth place in the Class Three competition respectively. As a collective, Dalby State High School was able to win

the cattle competition in the school and college section, much to the delight of lead instructor Sue Burrowes. “We always think we can do well leading up to the competition but you’re never sure how many people will turn up and what the level of participants will be,” Mrs Burrowes said. “In saying that, our students rose to the occasion and put their best foot forward and secured the win.” She alluded to the benefits livestock competitions such as FarmFest could have on a young person’s development. “It requires skill both in the handling and preparation of their cattle to show,” she said.

“It also improves the competitor’s public speaking skills as they are required to address the judges and audience, so it’s a well-rounded opportunity for young men and women to learn about the industry and mix with a lot of like-minded people.” Mrs Burrowes also took time to thank another member of the team who played a pivotal role in Dalby State High School’s success at FarmFest. “I would like to recognise my fellow lead instructor Travis Luscombe, who did a fantastic job helping organise this and getting each competitor prepared.”


6 WESTERN DOWNS FARMER

chinchillanews.com.au Thursday, June 28, 2018

Flooring gets a new look

AS PROMISED in the last edition, our exciting news has arrived. Over the last couple of months Downs Flooring has slowly made the transition into the Carpet Court Group. With this name change comes many great things – exclusive ranges, better buying power, new suppliers and brilliant new products just released in May to mention a few. Downs Carpet Court is still owned and operated by the Pocock family, with both Garry (Sam) and Jeff Pocock installing, along with Matt the apprentice, while Sarah, Emma and the kids are ready to help and support customers in the big blue shed. Check out the website carpetcourt.com.au or better yet, come in store and have a look and feel of all the great new products, including carpet, carpet tiles, vinyl planks and tiles, ceramic tiles, laminate, bamboo and timber floating floors, accessories, blinds, awnings,

Downs Carpet Court. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED shutters – the list goes on. They are happy to travel, so give them a call and book in a free measure and quote. Staff would like to take this opportunity to thank all the customers and the community that have shown their support over the last two years. The business could not be more grateful. ■ Email: team@downs flooring.com.au ■ Phone: (07) 4662 6949 ■ Website: www.carpetcourt. com.au

Rural focus important in new budget: Littleproud MARANOA MP David Littleproud – who represents 42 per cent of rural Queensland – said growing our bush communities was at the forefront of the Federal Coalition Government’s Budget, delivered last month. “Maranoa is vital to this government’s plan to drive economic growth to secure more jobs and better paying jobs,” Mr Littleproud said. “The $51.3 million for six more agricultural counsellors will grow our agriculture trade by helping producers to seize market access opportunities in global food chains by funding the technical and scientific work to support market access requests. “This will help grow Maranoa farm exports, which means more money for our farmers and in our communities. “Whether it’s Granite Belt horticulture and wine from the South Burnett; kangaroo meat harvested and processed in Western Queensland; beef processed in Warwick, grazed on the Channel Country, sold at Australia’s largest cattle-selling centre in Roma; or Darling Downs grain – trade deals are fantastic news for Maranoa. “Trade agreements can reduce tariffs, but we need market access agreements

HELP IS HERE: Whether you’re a small business owner, producer, grazier, family, senior or young person in a rural community, Maranoa MP David Littleproud said the Federal Budget has something for you and to support our bush communities. PHOTO: STORM LAHIFF for each specific commodity before our producers can export their produce there and these agricultural counsellors will work to remove barriers and create export protocol agreements for specific commodities so they can be

exported.” Our clean, green image is key to our farming future and Mr Littleproud said the Federal Government was delivering a $121.6 million boost to the biosecurity system. “This biosecurity

investment will help keep our farmers safe from exotic pests and diseases and protect their top-quality produce and their livelihoods,” he said. “We’re also investing $51 million into controlling pests and weeds.”

WHAT THE

FEDERAL BUDGET MEANS FOR YOU:

Authorised by the Hon David Littleproud MP, Liberal National Party, Dalby Qld

YOUR FEDERAL MEMBER FOR MARANOA

DAVID LITTLEPROUD

MP

• Tax relief of up to $530 for middle to low income earners. • $121.6 million to boost Australia’s biosecurity, protecting our producers’ clean, green status. • $84 million for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. • $53.9 million to improve regional students’ access to Youth Allowance. • $51.3 million for more agricultural counsellors to help producers enter new export markets. • $40 million in capital grants funding for aged care facilities in regional, rural and remote communities. • Extending the $20,000 instant asset write-off for small business.

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WESTERN DOWNS FARMER 7

Thursday, June 28, 2018 dalbyherald.com.au

Number 500 for Finch

Big gain in field of grain

ALREADY having established itself as one of the most reputable providers in the industry, Finch Engineering has added further standing to their business after reaching an impressive milestone. The family owned and operated Kaimkillenbun business are at the forefront in all aspects of grain-handling equipment, and recently celebrated their 500th 30 tonne chaser bin. Finch Engineering’s product manager Leroy Finch said number 500 is of extreme importance. “It is significant because we believe we are the first chaser manufacturer to produce 500, 30 tonne machines,” Mr Finch said. “It’s not just that it’s 500 machines, it’s to a specific size.” Starting from humble beginnings, Finch Engineering have continued to evolve and

Our services go Australia-wide and our products are all over the world. In saying that, we really emphasise that our focus is on Australia.

— Leroy Finch

adapt to what the agricultural industry requires, a trait that has allowed them to stay in business for more than three decades. “We’ve been in operation since September 1983 and are continuing to grow,” he said. “Our services go

500 AND COUNTING: Des and Leroy Finch from Finch Engineering. Australia-wide and our products are all over the world. “In saying that, we really emphasise that our focus is on Australia.” Their milestone was front and centre earlier this month as they participated in the annual FarmFest at Kingsthorpe Park, an event Mr

Finch said is beneficial for all involved. “Not only is it an opportunity to promote the business and see what others in your industry are doing, it’s also a great chance to catch-up with existing customers and potentially add to your current customer base,” he said.

Mr Finch said Finch Engineering prides itself on a number of things, but there are a couple of factors that make it unique and stand out. “We pride ourselves on quality as well as customer service and back-up support, we know our products and we carry a range of spare parts throughout Australia and

PHOTO: NICOLE MCDOUGALL service it well,” he said. “We provide a range of products that include field bins, augers, cattle-feeding equipment, and we believe we are the grain-handling specialists.” So for all of your grainhandling needs with the hospitality to match, go to Finch Engineering.

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8 WESTERN DOWNS FARMER

chinchillanews.com.au Thursday, June 28, 2018

Not bad, but not all good Merino prices a step in the right direction Megan Masters IT CAN be pretty easy to get swept up in the excitement of “all-time high prices” in agriculture, but there is more than meets the eye according to Mitchell merino producer Errol Brumpton. Mr Brumpton owns Well Gully Poll Merino Stud and has been in the game “since he could crawl”, so despite making better money than usual lately, he was pretty sceptical about all the excitement surrounding current wool prices. “It’s a positive step,” he conceded. “We sold wool two weeks ago and broke through the 2000 cent barrier. “It was 17.1 micron wool for 2135c greasy. “That was off wethers that were six months grown.” He said it was $92 gross for the wool and they returned $151 for sale to slaughter, which sounded like an amazing price compared to averages over the past few decades, but some of the shine certainly came off if you did some serious comparison. “To put it in perspective, in September 1988 the market indicator was 1566c. That equates to 27.61c in buying power if you want an idea of what it is today,” he said. “In 1988 you could buy a man for $30 a day, where today that will cost you between $220 and $300. “You could buy a new Landcruiser in 1988 for $18,000. “Today you’re looking at $90,000, so whilst all these figures we have are exciting, we still have a little way to go.” Over decades he has watched farms slowly slide into disrepair as income was slowly outstripped by expenses and said there were few, if any, enterprises spending the money they should on farm improvements and capital works.

FUTURE OUTLOOK: Errol Brumpton leads the merino industry into the future.

When I went to agricultural college I never dreamed in a million years my biggest problem would be labour. He said one of the biggest problems in the industry was finding good labour that was actually worth the award wage. There was nothing more frustrating than paying an unskilled backpacker who didn’t understand the difference between diesel and petrol or how to use a broom, the same as he would have to pay a career farmhand with

— Errol Brumpton

years of experience. He said it wasn’t unusual to work his guts out training a new worker, and having to pay them the whole time, only to find out they just didn’t have the skills or didn’t want the work bad enough to stick around. “I’m nearly 63. I’ve been doing this since I could crawl and love every bit of it,” Mr Brumpton said.

PHOTO: JACINTA CUMMINS

“But when I went to agricultural college I never dreamed in a million years my biggest problem would be labour.” He said $243 was a very tidy price for the wool and meat of a six-month wether, but the industry couldn’t rest on its laurels and needed to fight hard for the quality and market share that would keep it at the top end of the fibre market. Part of that would lie in optimising breeding programs to enjoy the peaks of meat prices as much as the fibre prices, but he could see few solutions on the horizon for labour issues as his generation slowly retired and gave the game away.

High prices are one thing, but costs also need to be reviewed carefully, according to Mr Brumpton. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

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WESTERN DOWNS FARMER 9

Thursday, June 28, 2018 dalbyherald.com.au

Wandoan’s own number one

Flair for photos on show at school

A CAMERA and flair for photography were the only pre-requisites for The Glennie School’s first “Home” photography competition. The competition was held especially for the school’s boarders, who were invited to capture a moment in a photo that depicted their home when they returned there at the end of term one. The school was overwhelmed with more than 170 images from girls as far north as the Northern Territory and as far south as Melbourne. The judging panel was Glennie principal Kim Cohen, Jim Cohen, The Chronicle photographer Bev Lacey and Glennie Old Girl Emma Moss. There were 20 finalists selected and ultimately three winners. First prize was awarded to

An impressive photo of a dog by Ellen Gall took out third place. Photos: Ellen Gall

IMAGES OF THE COUNTRY: Chloe Hatton was awarded first prize in the competition.

Chloe Hatton from Wandoan with a photograph of herself walking barefoot on an unforgiving track of dirt and rocks towards the glow of dusk. “On my family property I enjoy peaceful time in the paddocks experimenting with photo techniques and enter my work in the local show,” Chloe said. “I was shocked and proud to win this competition and

will definitely continue my photography journey.” Paige Corke from Greymare was awarded second prize for a photograph showcasing the contrast of colour of her family’s property. Her subject was captured casually strolling along the boundary in boots on a blanket of red soil, with the green from shrubs lining either side of the track to the white fluffy clouds obscuring

the sunshine of the early afternoon. Third prize went to Elle Gall, a boarder from Jondaryan, who photographed the family kelpie standing on the back of the quad bike awaiting its final instructions for the day with a sunset in the background. Winners received a gift voucher and their photographs will be printed on large canvases to be hung in the boarding houses.

Photo: Chloe Hatton

Paige Corke got second prize in the competition. Photo: Paige Corke

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10 WESTERN DOWNS FARMER

chinchillanews.com.au Thursday, June 28, 2018

Breffni success thanks to David

Key to good

Good temperament in the humans Jacinta Cummins

QUALITY CATTLE: David McCabe with 24-month-old bull Breffni Jake at FarmFest. PHOTO: NICOLE MCDOUGALL

DAVID McCabe believes the way your cattle behave is a reflection of your own behaviour. “If you treat them quietly, then they don’t get stirry,” the Chinchilla cattleman tells me as he’s standing in the yard with some of his 50 droughtmaster breeders. They sidle up to him for a pat and aren’t too shy of the camera despite the rain. David is a bit of legend in the droughtmaster scene not only for his cattle, but also for his work with young children rising in the ranks and as an artificial insemination (AI) instructor. Born out west with his father a shearer and his mother a cook, David was brought up around sheep. His first two years after he left school, he worked as a clerk at the Flying Doctors base in Charleville, but as a kid who hated towns and school, he jumped at the opportunity to move to Adavale when his parents bought a property out there. “Dad bought the property and the 65 drought started

AI is a good option for smaller farmers who might only have 10 or 15 cows in their herd, it makes sense economically and then they don’t have a bull jumping the fence.

— David McCabe

and he was trying to feed 3500 sheep with a chainsaw so after football season, I gave up the job and went out to help him,” he said. “I never went back, I just worked all over the west just casual shearing or cattle branding or mustering or pulling windmills, you had to learn as you go. “It was a fair bit of a change from pushing a pen around and the telegraph machine.” What followed was years of working on properties and taking care of sheep and cattle. He laughs when he tells you that cattle are his favourites to handle, but the sheep are more consistent money because you can shear them annually. In the late 1980s, with his two daughters ready to go to

school, David moved his family to Wilga Park near Columboola, where he ran 4000 head of sheep and some cattle. In the early 2000s, the coal mine came knocking at the door, but David wasn’t inclined to leave the farm he’d built up. “You never walk away from a fight, you don’t back down from something which you disagree with,” he said. He took them on which eventually saw the coal mine buy him out and David and wife and daughter Robyn and Priscilla relocate to Chinchilla and buy land on the Chinchilla-Wondai Road. In the meantime, David had taken over the cream of Breffni stud which had been started by Darryl and Dianne O’Rourke. The stud was established in

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Thursday, June 28, 2018 dalbyherald.com.au

cattle

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1999, and David had picked the original seedstock. When he was working for the O’Rourkes, David told Darryl he should consider AI for his cattle because his herd was too small at that stage to justify a bull. Darryl asked David if he could AI and after David said no, Darryl had him booked in for an AI course within no time. This eventually led to David teaching AI and preg testing at courses throughout Queensland for All State Agricultural Service. “I was helping out at the courses and Sandy who was the proprietor of All State called and said he had a problem, that he was due to start chemo the day we were to deliver a course in Queensland,” David said. “When I asked him what he was going to do about it, he said ‘let me rephrase this – you’ve got a problem – I’ve put you down to teach the course!’ “It was a bit of a shock and a steep learning curve, but he helped me through it and it’s something I get a lot out of. “AI is a good option for

smaller farmers who might only have 10 or 15 cows in their herd, it makes sense economically and then they don’t have a bull jumping the fence.” After Darryl passed away, David continued operating the stud and when Dianne decided to sell, David got first pick of the stock and the Breffni name, taken from an old Irish town the O’Rourkes’ ancestors had come from. “Dianne gave me an opportunity to run the cattle as I saw fit and then to take some of them over,” he said. “When you work with cattle and you breed cattle, they’re like family and when Dianne decided she was going to disperse, I thought ‘well what am I gonna do?’ “It’s just like losing your family so it was sort of good to be able to get her help to start off and just build it from there then.” But for all his time in the industry – whether it’s been out west, teaching AI or working with stud bulls – it isn’t the ribbons or the prizes that David cherishes, it’s the feedback from the customers. “It really does make your

GREAT WORK CONTINUES: David McCabe’s Breffni stud has gone from strength to strength, but his greatest pride is in getting young people to work with cattle. PHOTO: JACINTA CUMMINS day when you get someone noticing that the cattle are improving and that they’re better than they were last time,” he said. “For me, having had the chance to work with children

and cattle at the schools was really good, but I got out of it because it was a bit hard in the end because you don’t have control of it all. “But getting children out and showing them how to

treat cattle and build a respect for them, rather than being afraid of them, that’s what I like doing. “It comes back to how we act. “If we treat the cattle calmly

then the cattle respond the same way. “It really is great to see the difference in a child and how they lose that fear the more time they spend with the cattle.”

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12 WESTERN DOWNS FARMER

chinchillanews.com.au Thursday, June 28, 2018

Maximise your herd

Data is vital for cattle farmers NEARLY 20 cattle producers and those who work in the cattle industry participated in a workshop about maximising your herd in Miles on June 7. Tim Emery from Tropical Beef Technology Services and Roger Sneath, Senior Extension Officer with FutureBeef, covered a range of topics from cattle nutrition and the impact it can have on your overall herd, drought feeding, bull selection and selecting or moving to joining and calving windows which best fit your climate and operation. The day also covered how to calculate your feed base and work out what supplements

you might need and in what doses. Mr Emery’s afternoon session looked heavily at bull selection and challenged attendees about what data they were using to select their bulls. He emphasised the need for a producer to have clear business goals and breeding objectives so it was clear to everyone in the operation what they were working towards. “Successful breeding programs need a clear breeding objective,” Mr Emery said. “You need to take a critical look at where you are now and where you want to be and you need to be able to simplify the

MAXIMISE YOUR HERD: Tim Emery from Tropical Beef Technology Services spoke on bull selection and the use of data for managing your herd and property at the workshop in Miles. PHOTO: JACINTA CUMMINS overall goals of your business down into one page.” When it comes to looking at bulls, Mr Emery said Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are able to help a prospective buyer place a bull’s performance within a breed. He also said buyers needed to consider a bull’s sperm morphology which is different to sperm motility, the sperm’s ability to move forward and reach the egg. Morphology is the anatomy

of the sperm. Morphology results can predict the sperm’s ability to get a calf from an egg and more importantly, pick up if it could start to fertilise the egg, but then fail to result in an ongoing pregnancy. Mr Emery’s final piece of advice when it came to bull buying was to have a rounded approach which considered figures, but wasn’t based on figures alone. “If his figures are good, but he doesn’t look sound, then

leave him,” he said. “You’ve got to trust the blokes you’re buying bulls from at the end of the day.” When it comes to females, Mr Emery said pregnancy testing is one of the key budgeting tools that a producer has available to him or her. “If you preg test, then you have a reliable idea of how many calves you can expect and when or if they’re empty, it’s up to you whether you sell them straight away or keep

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them on.” He said when it came to using data to maximise your herd, there were too many producers who were going on what they think is happening, rather than knowing what is actually happening. “Get a set of scales and get the data each time they come into the yard,” he said. “Get to know on average what your country does over a 12 month period, because then it’s easier to make decisions looking ahead.”

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Jacinta Cummins


WESTERN DOWNS FARMER 13

Thursday, June 28, 2018 dalbyherald.com.au

Industry growth a winner Cotton gins call 2018 a ‘season of two tales’ Jacinta Cummins

THE two Dalby cotton gin yards are packed after an estimated 325,000 bales of cotton was grown across the Darling Downs this season. The dry picking season meant the gins were at capacity. Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) had to close its yard and move to allocations due to too many trucks, but LDC’s Andrew Cook said this had eased off towards the end of the pick. Queensland Cotton’s Grower Services Darling Downs Representative Elissa Wegener said the quality of the cotton coming in was quite good given the growing conditions. “I think 2017 was a really tough year as it was very hot and it was dry, but this season has been just as challenging in some ways, especially with the late rain in February which wasn’t very widespread,” she said. “This is really a season of two tales, if you were under the rain it’s been really good, but if you missed out on the

rain it was really tough. “On the upside, colour and leaf have been really good because we’ve had no rain since February, but we have had trouble with high micronaire which is the measure of maturity of the fibre.” Andrew Cook said it was the same story in that all growers would have liked more rain. “I think certainly on the irrigated side it was a better season than 2017, but some of the dryland growers wouldn’t have seen much of an improvement from last season,” Mr Cook said. “The quality is quite good, but there has been some high micronaire on the dryland and the semi irrigated due to the hot weather and we’ve also seen a bit of short staple. “As a whole the gin is going really well, prices are holding up at about a touch over that $650 mark.” By mid-June, Queensland Cotton’s Dalby gin had ginned about 70,000 bales while LDC’s gin had processed 60,000 bales and were expecting another 15,000 bales still to come in.

PICKING A WINNER: The dry weather allowed good defoliation of the cotton crop this year. PHOTOS: MARY O'BRIEN / CONTRIBUTED

Bales at Queensland Cotton’s Dalby gin.

One paddock down, another to go. A cotton farm mid-pick.

Gins are happy with the colour and leaf of the cotton.

Dry weather provides ideal conditions for cotton Jacinta Cummins THE 2018 cotton pick brought mixed results with the dry season reducing yields but this was partially offset by strong prices of up to $650 a bale compared to $560-580 in 2017. Some 32,000 hectares of irrigated cotton were planted across the Darling Downs, down from 37,000 hectares in 2017. The dryland plant was down significantly, with only 33,000 hectares planted compared to 60,000 hectares in 2017. While the lack of rain affected crops planted early,

particularly dryland cotton, most of the later planted crops hung on until the rain in February. The warm, dry autumn weather provided good conditions for defoliation and allowed growers to harvest straight through without delays. This season’s crops didn’t face the heavy insect pressure which they did in the 2017 season, on the back of a wet winter in 2016. Irrigated cotton yielded around 11-15 bales per hectare and the best of the later planted dryland cotton went upwards of five to six

bales per hectare. The lower yielding dryland crops only produced one to two bales per hectare. Cotton Seed Distributors Extension and Development Manager for Queensland Sam Lee said the season was reasonable to good, with crops that were planted early suffering from heat and a lack of rain, while the best results were seen in later planted dryland and fully irrigated crops. “If the crop received a full irrigation schedule they did well, but some growers weren’t able to irrigate all of them to the end because they

were short of water and that was reflected in yields,” Mr Lee said. On the Downs, the heat wasn’t as relentless as 2017, but it wasn’t much better in terms of rainfall. “There were certainly some places that wouldn’t be much better than 2017.” Mr Lee said some growers were forward selling for the 2019 season to lock in $650 per bale but he did not expect people to sell more than they normally would due to the lack of water. “Looking ahead, we will take whatever rain we can get, if we do get a good break in

August or September I imagine there would be a fair bit of dryland cotton going in given the price.” There have been some quality issues with staple length and high micronaire due to the hot weather in January. Micronaire is a measurement of the thickness of the cell walls of a cotton fibre and is used to indicate fibre fineness and maturity; cotton buyers and textiles manufacturers prefer a micronaire of 3.8-4.5 to avoid problems with spinning and uniform dying of yarn. Cotton Australia’s Regional

Manager for the Darling Downs Mary O’Brien said despite these small issues, the price was paying off for farmers who’d stuck with the crop. “Prices are ridiculously good,” she said. “The market has been solid and strong, it’s certainly sweetened the deal for farmers who had a pretty tough season last year. “A lot of farmers on the Downs who haven’t grown cotton for years had said they would grow it again once the price hit $600 a bale and last week it was at $650 a bale has renewed interest.”


14 WESTERN DOWNS FARMER

chinchillanews.com.au Thursday, June 28, 2018

Think pink

Bales send a

Cotton fields buzzing with goodwill

Sam Flanagan

ABOVE AND BELOW: The pink bales of quality cotton helped raise $15,000 this cotton season for the McGrath Foundation. PHOTOS: NICOLE MCDOUGALL

FLASHING pink all over the farm mightn’t sound like something a textbook farmer would pull off, but it’s a movement that has raised $15,000 this cotton season. You may have spotted something a little different in the cotton fields of the Western Downs during picking, with a few farmers in the area wrapping their bales in pink to support the McGrath Foundation. Tapex Agri is the company behind the pink bales, which have been sold to farmers right across the country. Marketing manager Susan Taylor said the organisation has supported the McGrath Foundation since 2014 and in that time had raised in excess

We chose the McGrath Foundation because they have a strong tie to rural communities... Cotton wrap this year will raise $15,000 for the foundation, with 50 cents from every bale being donated. — Susan Taylor

of $110,000. “Our sister company in New Zealand, Agpac, really wanted to do pink wrap for a charity... and we had the opportunity to bring the pink wrap to Australia,” Ms Taylor said. “We chose the McGrath Foundation because they have a strong tie to rural communities by placing breast care nurses in them.

“Cotton wrap this year will raise $15,000 for the foundation, with 50 cents from every bale being donated.” The McGrath Foundation was founded in 2005 by former Australian Test cricketer Glenn McGrath and his late wife Jane. Since then the organisation has supported rural families

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Thursday, June 28, 2018 dalbyherald.com.au

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for McGrath Foundation in Australia by placing 117 breast care nurses across the country. More than 50,000 families impacted by breast cancer have been assisted during this time. It costs the charity approximately $390,000 to fund a McGrath Breast Care Nurse for three years, meaning continual public donations are vital to ensure the charity’s longevity. It’s for this reason Tapex Agri will continue their pink wrap program, according to Ms Taylor. The company also support other campaigns, including the Children’s Cancer Foundation (yellow wrap) and Australian Prostate Cancer Research (blue wrap). One of the cotton farmers in Australia who chose to wrap his bales in pink this year in support of the McGrath Foundation was Macalister farmer Mitch Seis. “I heard about the pink bales through Chesterfield’s wrap program. They’re the suppliers we buy it off and it came out as an extra option this year so we got a pallet of it,” Mr Seis said.

“I thought it was a good cause – I should have got three pallets of it.” Mr Seis and his family were recently impacted by the loss of a loved one through breast cancer, making it an easy decision for the father-of-two to get behind the cause. He has also backed the idea of raising money and awareness for other illnesses, and believes it should be expanded to include conditions such as mental health in regional and rural areas. “It’s a great way to create awareness. It’s such a visually appealing thing when people drive past and see pink cotton bales everywhere,” he said. “It’s not the only (disease) we should be aware of, but it’s one step forward. “I think beyondblue or something like that would be another one that would tie in a lot more with the farming community.” ■ For more information on the pink wrap initiative and Tapex Agri’s other charity support schemes, visit the website www.tapexagri. com.au/charity.

OUT ON BALES: Mitch Seis from Macalister with one of the many pink cotton bales that were seen across paddocks this cotton season. PHOTO: NICOLE MCDOUGALL

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16 WESTERN DOWNS FARMER

chinchillanews.com.au Thursday, June 28, 2018

The top priced bull of any breed in Australia, NCC Justified, sold for an impressive $325,000.

Beef Australia 2018 was the perfect opportunity for brahmans to show themselves off.

PHOTO: ROD GREEN

Token Brahmans winning the Exhibitors Group. PHOTOS: KENT WARD

Best of the best

Cattle country kings Brahmans continue to evolve and outperform THE growth and development of the Australian brahman has been described as the greatest livestock revolution in history. It has transformed the northern beef industry from near bankruptcy to an efficient and highly profitable enterprise which contributes millions of dollars annually towards domestic and export income. Since being introduced to Queensland in 1933, brahman genetics now comprise about 50 per cent of the national herd and more than 70 per cent of the bulls working north of the Tropic of Capricorn are brahman. Following on from the success at the bull sales at the end of 2017 with achieving the top price bull of any breed in Australia at $325,000, Beef Australia 2018, held in Rockhampton in May, was again another opportunity for the breed to show off their performance characteristics, winning accolades in the stud and commercial arenas. Red brahmans catalogued by Mark and Belinda Wilson, Banana Station, Banana, were awarded the champion pen of male grain-fed steers in the Ruralco Commercial Cattle Championship. The hotly contested event attracted 1874 head from 62 exhibitors, including 20 pens of brahmans from eight breeders. Another pen of Banana Station’s red brahman steers placed fourth in that class,

which attracted a strong field of 31 entries. Mr Wilson said his champion grain-fed steers gained more than 2kg/day on feed and weighed an average of 720kg when sold at auction to JBS Australia. They were knocked down for 314c/kg, returning $2260 a head. The Wilsons run 4000 commercial brahman breeders on their Central Queensland properties and use the breed because of its adaptability, hardiness and fertility. With a long-term focus on improving production and profitability, Banana Station has been heavily involved in the Brahman Beef Information Nucleus (BIN) project. This ground-breaking initiative, instigated by the Australian Brahman Breeders Association (ABBA), spearheaded the world-first introduction of DNA information and Single Step analysis into Brahman BREEDPLAN. By partnering with science, the breed has gained a competitive advantage by introducing more effective tools to speed the rate of genetic improvement to boost the profitability of beef herds. With a strong showing of 153 head in the stud cattle section of Beef Australia 2018, brahmans also performed admirably, with the champion bull, female and group all placing in the top 10 in the interbreed judging. As well as admiring

QUALITY BEEF: The Champion Male Grain Fed Pen at Beef 2018. livestock, visitors to the triennial beef expo showed their appetite for brahman beef, consuming almost three tonnes of the product from the on-site Smokin’ Yak Restaurant. The speciality Texas-style barbecue sold 4000 brahman beef meals over the event, comprising well over one tonne of brahman hump, 500kg of beef cheeks and 400kg of sausages. Brahman beef is also a drawcard at the award winning Waterline Restaurant at Keppel Bay Marina, last year named Queensland’s Best Tourism Restaurant. The Yeppoon eatery was built in 1996 by Banana

Station founders Richard and Libbie Wilson and is operated by their daughter Kylie and her husband Matt Smith, who is the executive chef. Beef at the Keppel Bay Marina venue comes from grass-fed Brahman heifers supplied by the family’s group of properties. At Beef Australia 2018, The Waterline Restaurant was awarded the a la carte restaurant Best Beef Signature Dish for the third consecutive time. The Smiths also claimed the Best Low and Slow Beef Dish, and their Grass-fed Beef Tenderloin was highly commended in the Best Steak category.

PHOTO: GEORGIE CONNOR Visitors to Rockhampton, known as Australia’s Beef Capital, are greeted by a brahman bull at the city’s entrance – with good reason. October’s three-day Rockhampton Brahman Week Sale (RBWS) is the biggest one breed beef bull sale in the world and makes an outstanding contribution to northern Australia’s economy. The sale recorded the second best result since its inception in 1977, selling 844 head for a gross of $7.75 million to record a phenomenal $9191 average across the board. In its four decades of operation, RBWS has grossed more than $155 million, not to

mention the flow-on income generated by the 36,000-plus sale bulls that have been injected into stud and commercial herds around the country. Australian Brahman Breeders Association Manager Anastasia Fanning said confidence in the brahman breed continued to grow from strength to strength. “Year on year we’re seeing beef producers and consumers back brahmans. Whether supplying local or export beef or cattle for Asia the breed continues to prove its ability to perform across a range of environments,” Mrs Fanning said.


WESTERN DOWNS FARMER 17

Thursday, June 28, 2018 dalbyherald.com.au

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Thursday, June 28, 2018 dalbyherald.com.au

Novel way to fight fires Cattle used to tackle potential for bushfires Amy Lyne

CATTLE are being used to tackle bushfire prevention in a unique take on the traditional hazard reduction burn. People often associate bushfire mitigation with more fire, but west of Toowoomba the cattle are quite literally eating a potential fire’s fuel. Rural Fire Service Roma Area Director Inspector Goetz Graf said there was about 8500 head along stock routes and the Warrego and Canarvon Highways, in the Roma region towards Charleville. “Burning paddocks on the side of the highway is one of only many ways to reduce bushfire risk. If you just burn on a regular basis it won’t help vegetation management and will reduce biodiversity,” Insp Graf said. “It is effectively removing fuel in one particular area so it wouldn’t burn as severe or intense.” It is part of a statewide program from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services called Operation Cool Burn.

It is a multi-agency initiative to help ease the bushfire threat. “A lot of stock is brought into the area as well from drought-stricken places, even as far as Riverina in New South Wales,” Insp Graf said. “It helps the individual farmer to feed their cattle and also helps the community to reduce vegetation thickness and potential bushfire risk along the highway. “This is just a great example of stakeholders and communities working together. One activity can meet different objectives.” Insp Graf also wants people travelling through the area to be aware of what is happening as many were under the impression it could be a traffic hazard. He encouraged people not to stop and take photos, to reduce speed but keep moving and don’t honk their horn. Insp Graf added it was important for residents to prepare their own homes and land for bushfire season.

OPERATION COOL BURN: Cattle are being used to curb regional fire dangers, by filling them up with feed.

PHOTO: FILE

No drought here? No way Michael Doyle

NO DROUGHT?: Wayne Newton.

PHOTO: MICHAEL DOYLE

ONE farmer said he was left speechless when he heard the news he no-longer lived in a drought-declared area. His disbelief at the announcement comes from the lack of rain he has had in the last three years. The Queensland Government announced the percentage of the state which was drought declared had fallen from 88 down to 57. Minister Mark Furner stated several regional councils, including the Western Downs were no longer drought declared. But this has stunned Kupunn farmer Wayne Newton, who said he does

not believe there has been enough rainfall in the region. “Basically I am speechless. I am astounded,” Mr Newton said. “We have just come off a dry set of about three years. “Some small parts of the Western Downs region have had some rain, but in the largest part of the area there has been very little.” Mr Newton said it was a hit to the morale of farmers to hear they are no longer drought declared, when the sub-soil moisture for the upcoming winter season is low. He said many farmers in the region were expecting a tough winter season. “Some farmers I have spoken to say they have

missed out on a year’s worth of rain over the last three years,” Mr Newton said. Mr Furner said farmers would not be left without assistance if they were still experiencing hard times on their properties. “I want to stress that any producer who is experiencing difficult conditions in the revoked areas, or in any council area that is not drought declared, can apply for an Individually Droughted Property declaration,” Mr Furner said. “This gives them the same access to our drought assistance as an area declaration and we will review the 80 IDPs in 10 other council areas that we have in the coming weeks.”

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20 WESTERN DOWNS FARMER

chinchillanews.com.au Thursday, June 28, 2018

Faces from FarmFest 2018

Doug Campbell from Simplicity Australia.

CLASSY TRIO: Anthony Eugarde, Rick Spies and Dylan Mott from CLAAS.

Chris Wilkes and Xavier Manley from Wild River Concrete and Construction.

Graham and Wendy Caldwell from Wenbox Solutions.

PHOTOS: JOSEPH BARCLAY

Cheryl Don from Riversands Wines.

Renee Conroy and Pat Walsh from Advance Dalby Motors.

Stephen Gillespie and Andrew Bourne from Diesel Care.

Laurie and Jack Sheahan from Roma Containers.

Grant Colquhoun from Dalby’s Warrego Water Supplies and Chris Green from Warwick’s Warrego Water Supplies.


WESTERN DOWNS FARMER 21

Thursday, June 28, 2018 dalbyherald.com.au

FARMFEST FACES: Corey Pettett from Davey, Ray Aukett from Clayton Engineering and Wayne Horrigan from Dalby Rural Supplies.

PHOTOS: JOSEPH BARCLAY

Jack Conroy and Rory Edye from Clark Tanks.

Rod Imhoff from Bushmans Tanks.

Brad Klowss from Austmech.

Braden Morris from DSM Toolboxes.

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22 WESTERN DOWNS FARMER

chinchillanews.com.au Thursday, June 28, 2018

Cow poo becomes a beer? Pint of Science’s new view of brews Tobi Loftus FROM the power of bulls--t to how cyanide is used in wine, pub goers were able to learn a little bit of science at the Irish Club recently. University of Southern Queensland phD candidate Peter Harris gave the opening talk of the festival on Monday night, where he spoke about his research of turning cow poo into biogas. “The amount of biogas we’re getting is quite small, but we have other benefits going alongside it such as

reducing pollution and what’s going into landfill,” Mr Harris said. “The renewable energy scene needs to be mixed so we have something to draw on when the sun isn’t shining. “Biogas is just another energy we can throw into that mix and get some benefits.” Wine scientist Ursula Kennedy also spoke about how science impacted the alcoholic beverage. “There is a lot of science behind wine,” she said. “Biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy and even

psychology,” she said. Ms Kennedy said wine makers used chemicals such as cyanide to remove metal cations such as copper and iron from wine, though it was harmless to drinkers. Organiser Jake Clark said the event was sponsored by the CSIRO. “Pint of Science provides our community, an opportunity to engage with the amazing research conducted in our region, and also provides a platform for our community to converse with scientists,” he said.

Jorja Connor and Peter Harris.

CHEERS TO SCIENCE: Organiser Jake Clark with speakers Ursula Kennedy and Peter Harris at the first night of the Pint of Science festival in Toowoomba. PHOTOS: TOBI LOFTUS

Adrian Dawes and Ross Kruger.

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Western Downs Farmer  
Western Downs Farmer