The ﬁrst-ever Australian RIRDC Rural Women’s Award Winner is Queensland’s Martha Shepherd, a rainforest fruit grower. Western Australia’s Bev Logue, a broad-acre farmer and bio-diesel expert, has been named runner-up.
Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Sussan Ley, congratulated the women on their outstanding achievements, at a reception in Canberra this evening.
“The Award is all about increasing women’s capacity to contribute to agriculture and rural Australia by providing them with the support and resources to further develop their skills and abilities,” she said.
The awards were presented on behalf of the Prime Minister by Julie Bishop, the Minister for Education, Science and Training, at a National Reception Dinner in Canberra. The dinner was also addressed by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran.
National winner Martha Shepherd, with her partner, runs a highly successful business producing a range of gourmet products from native rainforest fruits, grown as a high-value niche crop on their small acreage in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Her vision is to develop a viable chain-management model, to enable small producers to collaborate with regional processors to produce to the processors’ exact requirements.
Runner-up Bev Logue and her husband run a broad-acre share-cropping enterprise at Binnu, north of Geraldton. Bev has also played a part setting up a cooperative canola milling facility for the Northern Agricultural Region, as part of a project for regional bio-diesel production.
Bev believes that Australian farmers and communities should embrace bio-diesel as an economic and environmentally-friendly alternative fuel, which can free farmers from their dependence on oil.
“Martha and Bev represent the diversity and enterprise of today’s rural industries,” Ms Ley said.
“Martha is a small acreage farmer, from an emerging industry, striving to develop supply chain management and value-adding to secure a viable return from small farms.
“Bev, on the other hand, comes from a more traditional farming background, but strives for a more sustainable future, based on renewable resources,” she said. “I also congratulate all of the other winners and runners-up from the States and Territories, all of whom show us the great achievements of women in rural Australia,” Ms Ley said.The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award, now in its seventh year,recognises and encourages the vital contribution women make to primary industries and rural communities.
The dinner was also the ﬁnal event of the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award National Reunion Forum, which has brought together winners and runners-up for each year since 2000. Winning Women – Just scratching the surface — a book commemorating and telling the stories of all these women — was launched by Ms Ley at the dinner.
Proﬁles on all the winners and runners-up are available online at –http://www.ruralwomensaward.gov.au
Start thinking now about the 2007 Award and how you could use the$10,000 bursary to make a difference to your industry and community – you could be the next winner. Nominations for the 2007 Award open on 1 August and close on the 15 October 2006. Contact the WA Coordinator Christine Thompson on (08) 9861 2022 for more information.