LUBECK farmer Graeme Maher has big plans for what he hopes to achieve in his new role as Victorian Farmers Federation Wimmera branch president.
Mr Maher has been a member of the group for almost 40 years. He decided to take on the top role after former president Daniel Keam, of Wallup, stepped down after four years.
As a fifth generation Wimmera farmer, Mr Maher owns 3000 hectares of land at Lubeck, Dadswells Bridge and Mount Dryden – 1000 hectares of which is for cropping, while he also runs 6200 breeding ewes.
“We’re expanding at the moment and hope to increase that number significantly,” he said.
Mr Maher runs the farm with his wife Sarah. He said their three children – Annabelle, Patrick and Richard – were interested in heading into the agriculture field.
“I hope that the sixth generation will follow somewhere down the line. It’s looking like they want to be involved in agriculture, but I want them to want to come home, rather than having them think like they need to come home,” he said.
He said one of his goals as VFF Wimmera president would be to get more young people involved in agriculture.
“A lot of young people who grew up on farms went away to have their crack at other jobs, but now they are coming back to farms. Then there’s a lot of people who are doing it by first choice,” he said.
“In among those two groups are some remarkable individuals who are sharp and and tech-savvy. I think it’s my job to be a seat warmer. You’ve got to keep them involved somehow, and if that’s my job to stand at the front for two years and encourage them to do that, then that’s what I’ll do.
“This role is going to be a challenge. It was probably the right time for me to stand up. I will try to make some progress, but I look around and there are some amazing people still around in the group.”
Mr Maher said another major issue for the Wimmera VFF was the ongoing council rural rates debacle.
“I have property in Horsham Rural City, and Yarriambiack and Northern Grampians Shire councils. It’s interesting to see how each of the councils have reacted – some have listened, while others haven’t,” he said.
“There are other ongoing issues like Aussie Farms and live sheep exports. It appears that there will definitely be an issue with animal activists.”
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