The best of our bush honoured with new award
A better future for Australia starts with ensuring the success of our regional and rural communities.
While prolonged drought, bushfires and now a worldwide pandemic have been devastating, regional NSW is filled with driven, inspiring people and organisations and The Daily Telegraph is determined to uncover them.
That's why, in partnership with Westpac, this publication is launching the inaugural Bush Telegraph Awards.
The first award, which will be announced at the Bush Summit in Cooma on August 28, will shine a light on our rural champions and celebrate their contribution to all our lives, said Ben English, editor of The Daily Telegraph.
"The bush is full of extraordinary, inspiring people - inventors, artists, innovators, philanthropists and business geniuses," he said.
"Yet they go unrecognised because they are out of sight and out of mind of city residents neck-deep in their own day-to-day challenges."
The Awards are seeking people like Southern Highlands sheep dairy farmer and artisan cheese maker Cressida Cains.
Ms Cains, who founded Pecora Dairy with husband Michael 10 years ago, developed online program and support hub Dairy Cocoon to help dairy farmers operate under their own label.
"Last year, [nationally] 486 regional small dairy farmers closed their gates," Ms Cains said.
"In the 1980s, there were 22,000 dairy farms in Australia and today, there are just over 5000. There is an increased demand for products, so on one hand, we have small dairy farms closing down yet on other hand, we are importing huge amounts of yoghurt and cheeses and that's increasing every year.
"It's a problem for the little guys. What I'm trying to do is give them an alternative should they wish to think about another way of doing business by producing their own brand of milk, yoghurt, gelato or cheese.
"Conservatively, if 25 small dairy farms undergo a transformation through Dairy Cocoon to creature their own label using their own product, that's potentially 190 new jobs created and a total indirect and direct economic impact over five years of $112 million."
Westpac Agribusiness national manager Stephen Hannan said: "As we look ahead to a strong recovery from COVID-19, our rural industries and resilient regional communities is what will help build a better future - particularly for those in areas affected by drought and bushfires".
"We hear a lot about the challenges in regional and rural communities, but it's important to highlight the many positive stories and the opportunities on offer, which often come out of adversity.
"It's important that we celebrate and recognise the great work of these community members and The Bush Telegraph Award is a terrific way to shine a light on their contribution."
Originally published as The best of our bush honoured with new award