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Flood-hit NSW lotfeeders earn Australian Farmers of the Year crown

Beef Central, 21/06/2023

Andrew and Tess Herbert in their Gundermain feedlot near Eugowra. Image: Kondinin

New South Wales feedlot operators Andrew and Tess Herbert were crowned Kondinin Group and ABC 2023 Australian Farmers of the Year during the annual awards ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra yesterday.

Ten of Australia’s best and brightest farmers were recognised in this year’s awards, now in their thirteenth year. The awards celebrate excellence and innovation in agriculture across rural and regional Australia.

Federal agriculture minister Murray Watt congratulated the 2023 Australian Farmer of the Year Award winners, Tess and Andrew Herbert from Eugowra, New South Wales.

The couple are directors of Gundamain Pastoral Co, a sixth-generation farming enterprise. Together with their three children, they manage a 6000 head cattle feedlot, 6500–7000 ewes for lamb and wool production, 5500ha of cropping, hay silage and pasture, with some 400ha of remnant vegetation.

Andrew and Tess Herbert receive their Farmer of the Year award from ag minister Murray Watt

Minister Watt said the Herberts’ approach to integrating technology into their day-to-day business had enabled them to farm productively and efficiently, whilst also recovering from the devastating Central West floods in 2022.

“Tess and Andrew lost livestock, pasture and canola crop in the November floods, along with damaged fencing, roads and stockyards,” he said. “It’s clear the recovery is still ongoing for Gundamain, but I’m inspired by their resilience and determination to rebuild.”

“Gundamain is a big local employer and it’s clear that adaptability and flexibility is core to their business model. I congratulate Tess and Andrew on their win, and thank all the winners and nominees for their enthusiasm and commitment to innovative farming.

Ten diverse farming enterprises and people were awarded in different categories yesterday (see full list of winners at bottom of page).

“All of those recognised in this year’s awards are leading their industry and their communities with their vision for farming, while promoting a sustainable agricultural sector,” Minister Watt said.

He said the awards were a great platform for the industry.

“The Farmer of the Year Awards help develop leaders in the sector, which is why we are proud to partner with them through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.”

Feedlot at the heart of the Gundamain business

New South Wales duo, Tess and Andrew Herbert, aren’t afraid to take on a challenge and it is their tenacity and effective business agility that earns them the 2023 Kondinin Australian Farmer of the Year title.

When Tess and Andrew assumed operational control in the 1990s, the business identified as a small, mixed farming enterprise. With the construction of a new feedlot in 2000, it grew rapidly. Gundamain now involves a 6000 head cattle feedlot, 6500- 7000 ewes for lamb and wool production, 5500ha of cropping, hay silage and pasture, with some 400ha of remnant vegetation.

Tess and Andrew consider the feedlot to be the heart and soul of Gundamain Pastoral Co, and are proud to include their three adult children in the inter-generational family farm.

“The feedlot provides a sustainable feeding environment for all Gundamain-owned cattle for both our domestic and export markets,” Tess said.

“Lot feeding is a different approach to caring for our livestock but one we take very seriously, and it has had a positive impact on our farming operation. Schools and universities also use it for group visits, as it provides a unique opportunity to get up close with our incredible livestock and a chance to learn more about this feed option.”

Ben White, Kondinin Group’s general manager of research, said Tess and Andrew were outstanding recipients of the 2023 Award.

“The Herbert’s innovative mindset has put them in a significant position to successfully navigate business and environmental challenges while maintaining a passion for farming,” he said.

“Their extension to lotfeeding, investment in infrastructure, use of technology across multiple areas of the farm and their involvement within industry and their local community is substantial and deserving of praise.”

The Herbert’s are early adopters of technology – utilising software systems for individual animal management, cropping and pasture management, human resources and safety.

“Their approach to integrating technology into their day-to-day business has enabled them to farm productively and efficiently,” Mr White said.

“Their use of tech to negate issues such as labour shortage and energy production is inline with issues many farmers are facing, and their proactive management demonstrates how tech can be a positive inclusion in a farming enterprise.”

Flood impact

Tess and Andrew pride themselves on their ability to adapt and be flexible in the face of challenge. They were recently put to the test when, in November 2022, Eugowra was hit by flash flooding. The result was disastrous for the town, causing widespread destruction.

“We are currently in recovery mode following the November flood,” Andrew said.

“We had to replace fencing, rebuild roads and stockyards. We lost some livestock and pasture, and canola that was ready for harvest. We estimate the damage to the business was in the millions and has set us back years.

“Our region is a major employer in the agricultural industry – we alone employ 20 staff – and the floods have had a big impact. But we are a resilient bunch and I know that we have set up strategies at Gundamain that will help us get through this rebuild period.”

Andrew and Tess Herbert are the 13th winners of the Kondinin Group and ABC Rural Australian Farmer of the Year award. The annual awards program has been running since 2010 and continues to recognise excellence in farming and farming communities across rural and regional Australia.

 

2023 Kondinin Group and ABC Australian Farmer of the Year Awards winners:

Australian Farmer of the Year   

Tess and Andrew Herbert, Eugowra, New South Wales

Young Farmer of the Year, sponsored by McDonalds Australia    

Mitchell McNab, Ardmona, Victoria

Rural Community Leader of the Year 

Jackie Elliott, Byaduk, Victoria

Rural Consultant of the Year 

Ingrid Roth, Narrabri, New South Wales

Agricultural Student of the Year, sponsored by AgriFutures Australia

Jay Elliot, Perth, Western Australia

Award for Excellence in Innovation

Tony Single, Narratigah, New South Wales

Award for Excellence in Technology, sponsored by New Holland

Ray Taylor, Amiens, Queensland

Award for Excellence in Diversification and Sustainability, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience

Mark Foletta, Benalla, Victoria

Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research, sponsored by ACIAR

Dr Robert Magarey, Tully, Queensland

 

 

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