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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Rabobank launches Australia-first rural community fund

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NSW Northern Rivers Breaking News

Rabobank launches Australia-first rural community fund

Agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank has launched a fund to invest in the sustainability and vitality of rural communities in Australia.

The first of its type in Australia, the Rabo Community Fund is based on the international Rabo Foundation, the global agricultural banking cooperative’s social fund, which has operated for more than 45 years investing in farmers’ self-sufficiency in a range of countries around the world.

Funded by an annual contribution from Rabobank Australia & New Zealand, the Rabo Community Fund has launched with an initial $2 million, which is being invested in a range of initiatives to benefit rural and regional communities around Australia and New Zealand identified by the bank’s local Client Councils.

The Client Councils are groups of Rabobank’s farming client representatives, who work with the bank to address industry and community challenges in farming and agribusiness, which are linked to five key themes:

  • long-term industry capacity
  • environmental sustainability
  • rural/urban divide
  • rural health and
    adaptation/disruption.

The Rabo Community Fund will invest in initiatives under these themes and may also be used to support rural communities in the event of natural disasters. The first initiatives to be funded include:

Financial Skills Workshops – a practical hands-on program to build the financial capacity of the next generation of producers and farmers, which aims to reach 5000 participants by 2025.
Are You Bogged Mate? – a ‘down to earth’ approach to raising awareness and starting conversations around rural men’s mental health and suicide, founded by Mary O’Brien.
Rabo Tertiary Pathways – a scholarship program to support undergraduate students at select tertiary institutions to further their research and interest in topics critical to the ongoing success of the agribusiness sector.

Rabobank’s head of sustainability and community engagement Marc Oostdijk said the new fund demonstrated Rabobank’s commitment – as a major banker to Australia’s food and agricultural sector – to a thriving and sustainable rural sector.

“As one of the world’s largest cooperative banks, it’s in our DNA to support rural communities and we believe there’s no better way to achieve this than by giving our clients a voice as the representatives of those local communities,” he said.

“What is really unique about the Rabo Community Fund is that we are putting the power into the hands of the local Client Council members to advise us on what initiatives should be funded to address the challenges and opportunities in their communities.”

Mr Oostdijk said the fund will work in a cooperative model where Client Councils will identify and implement the initiatives being funded, while a five-person committee formed of Rabobank staff will oversee the performance and activities of the fund.

“This fund is not intended as a grants program, but is there to address the wider challenges in agriculture at a local level, such as building industry capacity, addressing labour and skills shortages and helping rural communities transition to the future of farming.”

Dairy farmer and chair of the Riverina & Northern Victorian Client Council, Monique Bryant said the major injection of funding would help to create more resilient rural communities.

“This new fund will really increase the size and scale of projects implemented by the Client Councils, which will have a significant impact on rural communities,” Ms Bryant said.

“What it does at a local level is help give people confidence that there is a future in agriculture in their local area, and if people feel good about themselves and confident about their future prospects, then they are more likely to stay in the local area, seek local employment and invest in local economies.”

Rabobank’s Client Council network operates across Australia and New Zealand. There are seven Client Councils in Australia and four in New Zealand with each consisting of between eight to 12 Rabobank farming clients.

For more information: https://rabobank.com.au/about-rabobank/rabo-community-fund

Northern Rivers & Rural News

Trailblazing women join together to discuss breaking bias on International Women’s Day 2022

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Trailblazing women join together to discuss breaking bias on International Women’s Day 2022

Trailblazing women join together to discuss breaking bias on International Women’s Day 2022

Landcare Australia and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment are bringing together a formidable group of women for a conversation about their challenges and triumphs.

In an online panel event on International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8 March, Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Kerstie Lee will lead the discussion, focussing on this year’s theme – #BreakTheBias.

The panel includes Natalie Sommerville, a farmer, grazier and proud Torres Strait Islander woman from the clan Wagadagam of the Goemulgal people of Mabuyag Island. Currently living and working on Ngadjuri Country in South Australia’s Mid North, when Nat is not farming she is mentoring Aboriginal students.

Joining her is Sally Downie, who was selected as an ABC Heywire Trailblazer in 2019 for her work advocating for improved mental health services and support in drought-affected communities in Central West NSW. She is also a farmer, student and part-time drought policy officer.

Fiona Hill-Stein will add insights from her career advising on agricultural policy, drought and rural assistance, and natural resource management at the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Rounding out the panel is Tess Grieves, Regional Landcare Coordinator at North Central Catchment Management Authority in Victoria. A driven environmental achiever in her community, she is nominated for the Steadfast Young Landcare Leadership Award at the 2022 National Landcare Awards.

“We are thrilled to present an engaging, thought-provoking discussion with Kerstie, Natalie, Sally, Fiona and Tess about their experiences and accomplishments in landcare,” said Dr Shane Norrish, CEO Landcare Australia.

“Launched over 35 years ago by two women – Joan Kirner and Heather Mitchell – landcare has led the way with women in leadership roles across Australia. This event celebrates the thousands of women in landcare and their contribution to local communities and natural resource management,” said Dr Norrish.

International Women’s Day 2022 aims to inspire everyone to celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality.

Don’t miss Landcare Women Break the Bias, Tuesday 8 March, 2pm – 3.30pm AEDT.

Register to attend at landcareaustralia.org.au/webinars/iwd2022.

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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Farmers get their say on land use

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NSW Northern Rivers Breaking News

Farmers get their say on land use

The fight between farmers and developers could be a thing of the past thanks to a new mapping project that will shape future regional planning decisions.

With agriculture, urban development, renewable energy infrastructure and other land use interests competing for space in our increasingly busy regional areas, NSW Farmers is urging landholders to have their say on State Significant Agricultural Land mapping.

NSW Farmers Vice President Xavier Martin said it was an important process that would help protect farmers from conflicting land uses into the future.

“Farmers are being given a direct opportunity to have their say on the important issue of land use planning, and this could set the course for years to come as land use interests in regional areas grow,” Mr Martin said.

“Unfortunately, agricultural land can be viewed as a default zone when it comes to matters such as urban expansion, energy infrastructure and mining.

“There’s a finite amount of land suitable for agriculture and at the moment, we are losing it in a very fragmented way, but the state government’s mapping exercise is an opportunity to resolve that poor outcome.”

Mr Martin said the NSW Government’s understanding of the regional and state significance of agricultural areas would go a long way to minimising future conflict.

“The understanding of high value agricultural land must be multi-faceted, taking into consideration soil quality, yield, adaptability, proximity to export hubs and regional importance,” Mr Martin said.

“If the government is to identify and protect agricultural land on a tiered basis, then they need to understand what makes land strategically important – and farmers will be the repository of that knowledge.

“The goal of NSW Farmers advocacy in the land use space is to ensure agriculture is being considered in land use decisions. We need to start somewhere, and this mapping is the starting point.”

While the first iteration of the government’s mapping is not perfect, Mr Martin said consultation and refinement would help produce a planning tool that benefits landholders.

Consultation on the first State Significant Agricultural Land mapping is open until late January 2022 and the NSW Department of Primary Industries is welcoming input from farmers.

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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Northern NSW farmers to have their say on climate, regional opportunities

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Northern NSW farmers to have their say on climate, regional opportunities

Friday, 10 December 2021. From Taree to Lismore, Northern NSW farmers can have their say on what Australia’s climate policy should look like at one of Farmers for Climate Action’s end-of-year catch-ups next week.

The seven networking events, created by farmers for farmers passionate about a better climate future, are an opportunity to be updated on Australia’s climate policy, share local insights and learnings from the year, and ensure we’re feeding the right climate solutions back to industry and decision-makers.

The 1.5-hour sessions will run from Monday 13 December to Wednesday 15 December in the following locations:

Taree: Monday 13 December from 6.30pm at the Caravilla Motor Inn Bistro
Port Macquarie: Tuesday 14 December from 9am at Hibbard Sports Club
Dorrigo: Tuesday 14 December from 1.30pm at the Food Angel Cafe
Bellingen: Tuesday 14 December from 630pm at Bellingen Riverside Cottages
Grafton: Wednesday 15 Dec from 9.30am at Vines at 139
Kyogle: Wednesday 15 December from 2pm at Sugarbowl Cafe
Lismore: Wednesday 15 December from 6.30pm at the Lismore Workers Club mezzanine

Peter Holding, third-generation Harden farmer and FCA community outreach officer said:

“Here’s your opportunity to meet like-minded farmers and compare notes on the year we’ve had. We can have a frank discussion about where Australia’s climate policy is at and, more importantly, what this means for our region and livelihoods.

“Farmers are on the front lines of climate change, with many of us in this region living through droughts, floods, bushfires and more.

“Strong climate policy creates a raft of opportunities for regional Australia and we want Northern NSW farmers to be central to the conversation to ensure we get the best opportunities for the region.”

The events will be free of charge. RSVPs are essential and refreshments will be provided. To register visit www.farmersforclimateaction.org.au/events.

Farmers for Climate Action is a movement of almost 7000 farmers and agricultural leaders working to ensure that farmers, who are on the frontlines of climate change, are part of its solution.

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