News

Farmer grows and mills own rice

In the bag: Rain-fed biodynamic rice farmer Brett Slater pictured in front of the mill he has installed at his Fairy Hill property.
In the bag: Rain-fed biodynamic rice farmer Brett Slater pictured in front of the mill he has installed at his Fairy Hill property. Cathy Adams

GROWING a water-intensive crop like rice in drought-stricken regions just doesn’t make sense to Casino farmer Brett Slater, which is why he’s growing and milling his own.

Mr Slater’s $500,000 mill, the first in the Northern Rivers, whirred into action this month, producing 300 tonnes of biodynamic medium-grain brown rice.

His first 300-tonne crop saved around 465,000 litres of water; the amount required had it been grown in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Rather than truck the unprocessed ‘paddy rice’ to Leeton in the NSW Riverina for milling, Mr Slater invested his own money to produce rice that was not only rain-fed but boasted ‘low carbon miles’.

“It just makes sense. Here we lose crops to flood, not drought,” Mr Slater said.

The Fairy Hill farmer wasn’t sure whether it was the rain, or the biodynamic nature of the crop, that made it tastier than the mainstream product.

“People are saying their kids won’t eat brown rice, but they’ll eat ours,” he said.

The mill, which can process three tonnes of rice an hour, arrived in four enormous shipping containers and was built by Mr Slater and his sole employee, farm worker Luke Barton.

“We had some hard days,” admitted Mr Slater.

By growing and milling his own product and distributing it through Byron Bay-based Santos Trading, Mr Salter had more control of his product.

While current South Australian crops require 1550 litres of water to produce just 1kg of rice, Mr Slater’s protein-rich product, branded with a distinctive blue ‘rain fed’ sticker, is poised to win over the growing environmentally-aware market

Santos Trading will be distributing the rain-fed grain to wholefood outlets around the country.

Northern Rivers stockists include Fundamental Foods in Lismore and Byron Bay, and Brunswick Heads Health Foods, as well as the Santos stores in Byron Bay and Mullumbimby. Santos Trading is also looking to expand its wholesale trade from its headquarters in Byron Bay Industrial Estate.

“Look for the blue ‘rain-fed’ label at wholefoods stores,” Mr Slater said.

The farmer said he hoped to expand his operation.




Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Lismore Paddle Challenge raises $2000

Paddlers joined in while a crowd watched all in support of Summerland Credit Union administrative assistant Kirstie Salgram who signed up for the three-day fundraising event in Fiji because she thought it would be an amazing opportunity to help impoverished people. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

Challenge sees 11 minor celebs paddling.

Liam Hemsworth could be joining his brother in Byron

No Caption

BYRON could be home to two Hemsworth brothers

Maudeville is back, brighter and shinier than ever

DIVA: Maude Boat as MC of the Cabaret Show at a previous Tropical Fruit’s New Year Eve Party in Lismore.

IN A city full of divas, only one reigns supreme: Maude Boate.

Latest deals and offers

Bong throwing at MardiGrass 2016

The Nimbin MardiGrass Hemp Olympix wrap

British family bashed in Thailand

Family beaten and kicked unconscious by gang in Thailand.

Family beaten and kicked unconscious by gang in Thailand.

Ben Hunt wary of Sharks Halfback

Ben Hunt of the Broncos looks to pass during the round 23 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium.

Ben Hunt talks about Cronulla's Chad Townsend.

How a sacked real estate agent made $725k in four months

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog

10 ‘must-see’ open homes on the Northern Rivers this weekend

McGrath Ballina have listed this home at 19 Stonehenge Place, Lennox Head.

Looking for a new home? Then check out this list.

VIDEO: Art Deco fan pays $835,000 for Imperial Hotel

No Caption

Iconic "Impy" sold at a bargan price to bidder who loves Art Deco.