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Newsletter: Tas Report

By Abby McKibben, 2015 Scholar and Chair

December 2018

It’s hard to believe we’re already at the tail end of what has been a year of extreme highs and extreme lows for our island and especially for our farming community.

Beginning on a high, our 2018 Tasmanian Scholar Robin Tait completed her individual travel for the year and is looking into how regeneration agriculture principles can be integrated into cropping systems with the aim to reduce reliance on synthetic inputs for crop production. Robin has been a really impressive scholar, taking up every opportunity provided to her and providing a fantastic running commentary on her travels and those she meets via social media. If you’re not connected as yet to Robin, I strongly suggest you follow along. We’re all really looking forward to reading her report next year at the National Conference.

We received an extremely high quality of candidates applying for the 2019 scholarship this year and were extremely pleased to see Clare Peltzer from the North of the state and Jake Newnham from the south of the island make their way through the national interviews and receive scholarships this year.

Clare’s scholarship is supported by Meat and Livestock Australia and Jake receives support from Woolworths and we look forward to following their journey over the next 18 months.

Seasonal Update

On the farm front and arguably one of the most notable events on our calendar earlier this year was a biosecurity breach in the north-west of the state with our fruit fly free status compromised by fruit coming in from Victoria.

This had a terrible impact on the end of our cherry season for exporters and occurred in the middle of berry harvest which saw a number of producers close for good. It’s resulted in the promise of $70m from the Tasmanian Government in the recent budget announcements to enhance our biosecurity facilities and return an on island fumigation centre. Given so many Tasmanian producers leverage from our fruit fly free status both across Australia and in many export markets this was and still is for many an impact that will be felt for quite a while.

The weather this year has been pretty mild but wet across most of the state with 22% above average rainfall so far for the year. The only exception in a pocket of our north east which still has areas in drought and has unfortunately resulted in many of our east coast sheep graziers resorting to destocking.

In April we also experienced a major weather event in the south with the Hobart CBD flooded and waves to 22 metres reported off the coast of Bruny Island. This resulted in major damage to infrastructure in the salmon industry and some loss of stock but made for interesting viewing for some coastal residents who watched fish feed bins the size of a truck wash up on the local beaches.

Overall it’s been a pretty good year across all sectors and the year on year growth in visitors to the state is having an overall positive impact on brand Tasmania for our food and beverage.

We are currently working on a schedule of activity for 2019 as we’ve been pretty quiet on the island to date and although new to the role of chair I’m looking forward to working actively with our active alumni and friends of Nuffield to continue to promote the Nuffield benefits and future opportunities to the state.

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the outgoing Tasmanian chair Michael Chilvers (2012 scholar) for all his work over the last few years as well as the assistance provided by the state executive during the year.

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