Growers voice makes a stand
ALICIA Dunbar has the ability to instil confidence and trust in those around her.
Whether it is planning the logistics for the next project on the property, lobbying Canberra for the rights of irrigation farmers, or trading commodities, Alicia is calm, capable and ready to stand up for what she believes in.
Alicia and her husband Scott run their property Kingower, outside Emerald, as a mixed enterprise.
“We have grain, cattle, dryland cropping, irrigated cotton, pigs, dogs and kids out here,” she said.
Moving into irrigation and the steep learning curve involved was the catalyst for one of Alicia’s first forays into the public arena.
“We were still fairly new to the cotton industry when the Queensland government released the first draft water allocation and environmental management plan which affected the water flows for the Fitzroy Basin. We had just invested millions of dollars into infrastructure and had been granted water entitlements only to find the government could change things without compensation. It was a scary situation for us as we believed there would be a significant impact on our operation, and our industry.”
Setting aside personal inhibitions to fight for what she believed was right, Alicia was instrumental in providing a voice for growers to take their concerns to the State Government.
“I thought if I wasn’t prepared to stand up, then I couldn’t expect anyone else to either. If it was not me, then who?
Out of the initial groups, the incorporated Fitzroy Food and Fibre organisation was formed, and Alicia became a founding member as well as holding the positions of treasurer, secretary and chair over the years.
“There was a feeling the peak industry bodies were not overly concerned, and that we would have to take charge ourselves... This was self-funded by the irrigators, and took a lot of money, commitment and drive.”
The resulting Fitzroy Plan was one of the first plans released in Australia which tried to balance consumption and the needs of the environment with irrigators and the general public.
This involvement with a community group was just the beginning for Alicia. She has been a board member for CHRRUP, AgForce and FBA, and an active lobbyist to state and federal governments on behalf of the industry.
Alicia has won several awards and bursaries which acknowledge her commitment.
These include representing the Central Highlands cotton industry on a Building Rural Leaders course, an Australian Institute of Company Directors course in Canberra, and coming third in the Queensland Rural Women of the Year awards.
Alicia and Scott work as a very strong management team, and their four young boys play a big part in the running of the farm. Alicia is also as equally efficient on the computer as she is on the tractor, and can often be found at midnight waiting for the commodity markets to open.
“I got into commodity trading as a result of being in the cotton industry and being so reliant on the international futures market,” she said.
“Also, it is personal and if I make or lose money, it is my responsibility. There are no weather impacts, or seeing six months of work wiped out in a freak storm.”
Born: Albury, NSW
Who inspires you?: People focus me, but issues or wrong-doings inspire me to something about them.
Favourite quote: “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and remember it’s all small stuff.”
First job: Woolworths cashier.
I never thought I would…: I never planned to be a farmer’s wife.
Something people don’t know about me…: I do karate.