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“THE STAR”, Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - PAGE 41

Farming Insight

Showing them how it’s done By Sarah Vella EMMA Scott, born and raised on her parent’s dairy farm in Wonthaggi, has been involved in showing dairy cattle and the industry for the past seven years. “Through that I get to travel to most royal shows throughout Australia, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Dairy Week and this year, a New Zealand dairy show too,” she said. “It is a hobby more than anything.” Through industry contacts, Emma has been able to work with some of Australia’s best dairy cattle breeders. “It is all about the commitment I put towards doing what I do. I am passionate and enthusiastic,” she said. “You have got to market yourself the right way, and if you can get recommended

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as a hard worker, then it is through your connections that you find your jobs. “If you have a good reputation, you are more inclined to get jobs with certain breeders. It has probably been in the last five years that I realised I was marketable, and people would like me to work for them.” Emma said being employed to handle cattle at shows is great because she gets paid to spend a week doing something she loves, while catching up with friends. “At the Sydney Royal Easter Show, I worked with Murribrook Holsteins from Moss Vale in New South Wales and I judged up there as well,” she said. “It was a really successful show. We won champions, reserve champions, an honourable mention in the intermediate section, and champion senior Holstein as well. “Winning is a really big hype and you know your hard work for the week and the breeders efforts have been successful. “It all depends on the judge and what they want on the day.” Emma said people can take on different roles when showing cattle. “They hire what the industry calls the sitter. They are responsible for the aesthetics of the cow,” she said. “I help to set the bedding and I am responsible for handling the morning

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SOUTH GIPPSLAND ASSOCIATED AGENTS

Working and smiling: Emma Scott has found her passion in dairying.

Help a koala in need SOUTH Gippsland landowners have the opportunity to help protect the Strzelecki koala by fencing off or planting native vegetation on their properties. According to Nicole Walsh from the South Gippsland Landcare Network, the Strzelecki koala is important because it is genetically different to other populations of koalas in Victoria. “In the early 1900s, koalas in Victoria were nearly wiped out due to the fur trade,” she said. “Victoria was gradually repopulated by koalas from French Island and Phillip Island but only from a handful of breeding pairs. “As a result there is quite a lot of in breeding amongst these koalas. “The Strzelecki koala is significant as it represents a remnant of the original Victorian population.” Having a broad genetic base is important as it avoids in-breeding, making the species more resilient to climate change and disease. “Unfortunately our koalas are under threat from loss of habitat and attacks by dogs,” Nicole said. Fragmentation of habitat is a serious issue for koala conservation because koalas have a specialised low-energy, low-nutrient diet. This

means koalas have a limited amount of energy available to use travelling between patches of food trees and can be killed by cars as they cross roads. “Much of the koala habitat in South Gippsland is on private land. That’s why we are keen to work with landowners to help protect remnant vegetation, plant more koala friendly species and raise community awareness about this very important population,” Nicole said. The Habitat for Life – Friends of Strzelecki Koala Project is funded by the Victorian Government’s Communities for Nature Program. This is the second year of the project. “Expressions of interest for projects are now open,” Nicole said. “If you have a project you think could be eligible for funding please contact us.” You can call the South Gippsland Landcare Network on 5662 5759 or apply online at www.fosk.org.au. “We’re also encouraging the community to get involved with a planting day on September 1 to help plant out some koala habitat,” Nicole said. The Community Planting Day will be held at 2920 Grand Ridge Road, Hallston between 10am and 12pm, followed by a free BBQ lunch. If you would like to attend please contact Nicole Walsh at nicolew@wgcma.vic. gov.au for catering purposes.

Valued animal: the Strzelecki koala. Photo: Helga Binder.

Visa changes challenge farmers AUSTRALIAN Dairy Farmers (ADF) has expressed its dismay at the passing of the Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill through Parliament.

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production,” she said. “Stud cattle are bred to bring out desirable traits and because you breed a certain type into them, they should last as long as a commercial cow if not longer.” Emma is currently in her final year of studying architecture and construction management at university. “The long term plan is finishing my study and then find a way to link it with my dairy passion,” she said. “I would like to spend a little bit of time in North America and work with their cows and their facilities and expand my knowledge of the dairy industry. “My overall goal is to specialise in animal housing. It is a growing market it New Zealand to house cows in winter. I would also like to specialise in farm and dairy design. “The hardest thing is working my passion for the dairy industry in with my university schedule.”

By Sarah Vella

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chores, milking, making sure they get fed and taking them through the ring.” Emma said every cow had its own traits. “Our job on the halter is to make sure we show off each cow to her best potential. This includes walking her at a pace that shows her off, having her head at a particular height and when standing up, making sure her legs are in a particular place. “There are a lot of bits and pieces that you have to be thinking about all the time, especially ensuring every time the judge is looking at her. The cow must be looking her best.” Breeders who produce cattle for the show ring breed the best type of cow they can. Emma said showing cattle is another form of advertisement for the breeder. “Stud breeders are registered within an association and the cattle are bred on type as well as production, whereas commercial breeders usually only breed for

The bill, passed by the Senate, will place stronger regulations on employers seeking to sponsor skilled migrant workers on subclass 457 visas. ADF president Noel Campbell said this disadvantages dairy farmers who have a genuine need to seek overseas workers due to the lack of available local labour. “At a time when there is a critical shortage of skilled dairy workers, the dairy industry heavily relies on skilled migration to bolster its workforce and help our farmers fill

labour shortages,” he said. Alex Arbuthnot from Agribusiness Gippsland said it is a fairly general comment all farmers have difficulty in getting satisfactory staff. “My son had great difficulty in getting young people in particular to do farm work. There is a huge growth in youth unemployment and in some cases there doesn’t seem to be a strong commitment to work,” he said. “I think regrettably many farmers are having this trouble and many are using people from offshore to fill gaps, and particularly for farmers more remote from major centres.” Mr Arbuthnot said the average employer had difficulty following and understanding the changes and regulations. “The other thing that has to annoy people in business is the paperwork. I hear all the time paperwork and regulation is killing small business,” he said.

Mr Arbuthnot said develop local solutions to fill the skilled worker shortage was challenging. “I know Agribusiness Gippsland has done a couple of submissions to government on skills training and assistance programs, as well just training of people in agriculture,” he said. “I am delighted to hear universities report an increased number of enrolments in the agricultural sector. We are pretty proud of our food production in the Gippsland region. “If we are going to support growth of our food industry, I think there are employment opportunities across the whole sector. “We should certainly approach this issue at a regional level.” Mr Campbell said the current application process is complex and laborious, prolonging the length of on-farm vacancies. “Instead of addressing farmers’

concerns and streamlining the application process, the government’s changes will make an already challenging situation even more complex, placing and even greater workload on farmers and affecting health and wellbeing,” he said. The ADF is working towards increasing workforce participation in the dairy industry, through its partnerships with organisations and programs focused on developing skills and workforce. “The ADF is committed to upskilling the dairy industry’s existing workers and growing our workforce,” Mr Campbell said. “The benefits of initiatives will take time to flow to the workforce, so for the short term, migration programs such as the 457 visa program are vital so farmers can fill labour shortage gaps. “Any restrictions on these programs will only make it harder for farmers to find staff.”

The Great Southern Star - August 20, 2013  

August 20 edition of South Gippsland's weekly newspaper.

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