2020 NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion Elisha Parker.
2020 NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion Elisha Parker. Contributed

Champion to advocate for industry

OVER the past couple of weeks Clermont's Elisha Parker has flown to Canberra where she was named the 2020 NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion.

She's now returned home after hosting a popular site at the Brisbane Ekka promoting the beef industry.

Ms Parker said she was "very excited” to receive the prestigious agribusiness award established as part of The Rising Champion Initiative, now in its 10th year, in a joint program of the Cattle Council of Australia and NAB Agribusiness.

Ms Parker, who is passionate about the role young industry members play in shaping the future of the beef sector, said she started the Queensland Food Future advocacy group last year with other graziers from the Clermont area who wanted to "take a real farmer's vice to other farmers and voters”.

"Our industry bodies were already delivering their messages, but we wanted to add to that voice and add to what industry bodies were already doing and it's worked really well,” she said.

ALL SMILES: 2020 NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion Elisha Parker and AgForce's Will Wilson.
ALL SMILES: 2020 NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion Elisha Parker and AgForce's Will Wilson. Contributed

The group formed to raise awareness and provide education on land management and food production outside the agricultural industry and to promote engagement between consumers and their farmers.

This year at the Ekka, the group - whose campaign name is A True story from the Heart of Queensland (atruestory.com.au) - occupied a site four times bigger than last year.

Ms Parker said current topics related to the industry they were looking at included vegetation management and the Great Barrier Reef.

"The Queensland government has decided to try and say the reef is dying and the cause is farmers and graziers in reef catchments,” she said.

"You've got farmers who are more than six hours inland being put in the same bucket as farming that is close to the reef, and there is no water quality evidence or sediment evidence that anything is actually reaching the reef from any of the properties.

"What the consumer doesn't understand is that topsoil is very valuable to us and fertiliser is very expensive so we don't want to lose those things in run-off and so we do things to stop that. That's the first thing that frustrates us, and the second thing is there's no science behind it.”

Ms Parker said the industry had always relied on a "trusted” reputation which she believed was now often misunderstood by politicians.

"We've always worked hard and now we're in a situation where people are judging the industry, and propaganda campaigns have left us in a reactive situation,” she said.

In launching the campaign, Ms Parker hoped to help others better understand the industry.

"We started to make a difference. Our main aim is to improve understanding and improve the perception of agriculture,” she said.

"I'd love to see consumers and voters say, 'Don't touch our farmers - they feed

us'.”

Cattle Council president Tony Hegarty said the title of Rising Champion was the beginning of an exciting future in the beef industry.

"Designed to develop the leadership, negotiation and business skills of the beef industry's emerging young leaders, the Rising Champion program is an excellent platform for all participants to kick-start their careers,” Mr Hegarty said.

AgForce Queensland Cattle Board chair Will Wilson said he has three people on the board who have previously been part of the awards system.

"It's a pretty important time in industry just now. We really need people to get involved to get change in the industry,” Mr Wilson said.


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