Lynne Strong is this year’s runner up in the National Rabobank Farm Industry Leader
of the Year.
Lynne shares her journey to overcome the microphone shy hurdle see “Women are farmers too, so why don’t we hear them more? “ See here http://blogs.abc.net.au/rural/2011/06/women-are-farmers-too-so-why-dont-we-hear-them-more.html
“Firstly we all need to acknowledge men and women are different in many ways and recognise that’s a good thing
Secondly we need to redefine what a farmer is and farmers are many things
In the first instance they are members of the noblest profession. They feed and clothe the world. Today farmers feed 5x as many people as they did in 1950 which allows consumers today to spend only 10% of their income to stay alive compared to 50% in the 1900’s.
But farmers produce so much more than food. Australian farmers protect and enhance over 60% of the Australian landscape. On top of this our farmers produce experiences
and values that are often overlooked like our farming culture and heritage and
generations of handing down of skills and knowledge,
But sadly it’s not just urban communities who forget this. Farmers and industry, too
often fail to acknowledge that women farmers are champions not only behind the
farmgate they contribute at an unparalleled level beyond the farmgate.
Its undeniably true there are amazing women out there who can hold their own and
stand side by side with men driving headers, handling bank managers, drenching
cattle, artificially inseminating cattle, birthing calves and the list goes on. Yet they are not acknowledged as “real farmers” because of their sex. This is a travesty and many women are justifiably lobbying hard to change this mindset
There are also many farming women who are doing equally amazing things beyond the farmgate who are celebrated by the community, but go unrecognised by industry.
Why is this? That is the question I pose
Surely it’s as obvious as the nose on your face that it is pivotal for agriculture to build
relationships with consumers and decision and policymakers. To help address this and create a culture of change, I have focused on advocacy and telling the positive farming stories in preference to taking on agri-political roles.
I am the first to admit it is petrifying being interviewed. Radio was bad enough the idea of TV bought on a panic attack.
When I first put my hand up to do this I planned, rewrote and practiced what I was going
to say over and over. I began to grow more confident as new and different speaking
Then one day I spoke in front of 40 people at a Slow Food brunch and froze. It
should have been easy. I wrote my speech, practiced it and decided I could do it
without notes. But instead of just telling my story I had over thought the talk
and the content to my peril
Whilst I just wanted to hide, I was even more determined to never make the same
So I found myself a vocal coach. Her name is Annie Burbrook and she is very special
and now supports our Art4Agriculture young farming champions,
Annie is so many things. She is a former ballerina with the Australian Ballet company
plus a NIDA graduate actor and director. Her CV includes roles in Blue Heelers
and being the voice of WIN TV and Estee Lauder. Annie is also vegetarian and a very
proud greenie and I have learnt so much more from her. She shares her
professional knowledge and skills with me as well as her insights into her life
choices and her social responsibility passion. I have listened and learnt and found
the confidence to proudly shout from the rooftops that I am a farmer and I don’t
have to milk cows to prove it.
I know I can talk on the radio (and TV) because I have done it. Our Art4Agriculture young farming champions are doing it and all farming women can do it. All we need is some professional development and capacity building and support networks. I have found in my case it has been a much faster journey by looking beyond industry for some of these skills and networks.
Female farmers have so many untapped skills. The benchmark for too long has been measuring how many farming women sit on boards.
We need to define our own futures, step into the spaces and fill the gaps that we are good at and who better to inspire us than ourselves.
I would also like to acknowledge the spirit and resilience of the farming men in my life. My husband Michael and son Nick. Our journey hasnt always been easy but its been worth it
My son Nick who runs our two farms
and we have women on our farm team who stand side by side with the men milking our cows who produce milk for over 50,000 Australians each year
Emma also spends lots of voluntary hours beyond the farmgate promoting careers in Agriculture