Alstonville farmer to re-contest

ALSTONVILLE farmer Kath Robb will today stand for re-election to the board of the NSW Farmers' Association at its annual conference, which is currently under way in Sydney.

Mrs Robb has just completed her first year on the board and said she was hoping to continue to represent the association's members.

“It's about getting the best outcomes for sustainability issues,” Mrs Robb said.

About eight delegates from across the Northern Rivers, including Chris Magner, of Casino, and Jim Crawter, of Kyogle, are attending the conference.

Lindendale blueberry farmer Ridley Bell is a finalist in the association's Farmer of the Year Award.

Mr Bell said he was ‘chuffed' to have been selected as a finalist, but could not take all the credit for the success of his business because it was a team effort.

Angus Stainlay, who runs a cane farm and grazes cattle on the outskirts of Murwillumbah, is a finalist in the Young Farmer of the Year Award.

NSW Farmers' Association president Charles Armstrong said the finalists were selected for their ability to demonstrate innovation, business management and involvement in their industry and communities.

“One of our challenges is to select farmers who are not only demonstrating excellence in agricultural production, but who are also sharing this knowledge with others and acting as leaders in their fields,” Mr Armstrong said.

The award winners are to be announced at the conference tomorrow night.

Today's opening address will be given by University of NSW academic Professor George Williams and is expected to be on the subject of property rights and just terms compensation.

The NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Steve Whan, and the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke will be guest speakers at the conference.

Conference organisers said it would be a celebration of agriculture, but would also address the challenges faced by farmers.

More than 300 farmers from 250 districts are attending.

During the conference there also will be debates on State electricity pricing, enhancing food productivity and the Henry Tax Review.

Issues such as loss of productive farming land due to mining and urbanisation, native vegetation, the skills shortage in farming, daylight saving and health services in regional areas are also expected to be discussed.

The conference, being held at the Sydney Showground, will feature a regional food fair which will showcase produce from regions across NSW.

The Northern Star's rural reporter, Mel McMillan, was awarded a scholarship to attend the conference by the association. She will be filing reports from the convention.

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