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Newsletter: Tas Report

December 2019

By Abby McKibben, Tasmania Chair and 2015 Scholar

Nearly to the end of another year and what a year this one has been! Like other states, this year saw unprecedented challenges facing some of our rural areas and tested even the toughest.

January saw Tasmania’s largest bushfire take control of the central highlands and south-west and eastern forests and for a long and seemingly never ending four week period, numerous towns in the south east had fires on their doorstep and were blocked off from the rest of the south, leaving an impact that continued to hit the region’s economy long after the fires had left.

The Huon Valley in particular was challenged with its peak tourism season being cut in half by the fires, and many vineyards and orchards had their entire harvest either destroyed by fire or smoke.

We empathise with our northern neighbours who are now facing similar threats from fires and have seen many of our local volunteer fire fighters head north to assist and repay the favour that so many of our mainland neighbours provided us in January.

I would like to say a big thank you to all the alumni that reached out to offer their wishes and support during the fires. We unfortunately saw what would have been our first native pepper harvest ruined by the smoke, but like many who were tested, we have a much better fire action plan in place now should we face fires on the farm again!

In more positive news, some of our agriculture sectors this year have had an great year, with lamb and mutton prices hitting record levels earlier in the year and our dairy industry seeing steady growth and being buoyed by significant interstate and international investment interest.

The farm gate price for salmon has never been higher and a growth in popularity and demand for unusual marine species such as sea urchin roe has continued the growth in brand awareness of Tasmania as a producer of high-quality seafood.

Scholar activity

Our 2018 Scholar Robin Tait completed her travel and reported and presented at this year’s National conference in Brisbane. Robin has been a fantastic representative of Nuffield and taken every opportunity to share her findings around the state further raising the profile of Nuffield in Tasmania.

Robin’s report and presentation given at the 2019 National conference in Brisbane can be read and viewed here: https://nuffield.com.au/scholar-profile-robin-tait/

2020 Applications and Interviews

We received a good number of scholar applications this year and despite having three successfully make it through to the national round, a highly competitive year saw Tassie without a scholar for 2020. We have already started our drive for applicants for next year to make sure it’s not repeated. However, we wish all those that were successful a safe and enjoyable 2020!

 AGM and Dinner

On 12 May, we held our AGM and dinner in Hobart and were pleased to have 38 from our alumni come together to reconnect. We were also joined by Sam and James from new Corporate Members, CBA Agribusiness, and it was great for all of us to hear from active scholars Robin (2018), Clare and Jake (2019) on what they’ve been up to with their scholarship study.

Also joining the dinner was our 1967 Scholar Bill Casimaty AM (Life Member of Nuffield Australia) who sadly passed the week after our dinner. Bill was a champion of not just Tasmanian agriculture but Australian agriculture, and was a committed and supportive member of our Nuffield alumni right to the end. I know I join others in feeling very lucky to have spent what was such an enjoyable evening one last time with Bill.

2020 Outlook

We will likely host our AGM and dinner om the Friday night of Agfest in Launceston, at a location to be confirmed. Agfest is a fantastic agriculture event in the north of Tasmania that attracts hundreds of exhibitors and sees over 60,000 visitors through the gates. Agfest is held at a property just out of Launeston and for any interstate alumni looking to attend we can help provide transport.

The Nuffield National Conference comes back to the island in 2021. Plans are well underway to put on an amazing event for everyone and a really special post conference tour! Dates and venues will be available later in 2020.

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