Masterclass for CH farmers
RENOWNED American regenerative farmer Joel Salatin visited Emerald for a two-day presentation, The Future Face of Ag, this week.
Fitzroy Basin Association hosted Mr Salatin at the McIndoe Function Centre on Monday and Tuesday, where he hosted a masterclass examining his how-to of profitable, regenerative farming.
"I do what you would call profitable farming: It is essentially combining emotional, ecological and economic success,” he said.
"Most conventional farm- ers aren't excited about their farms: They're complaining about price, they're complaining about weather, about no profit, long hours, disease, it's as if they are doing battle with nature.”
Mr Salatin's techniques are the focus of various documentaries and books, with his principles having established their own community of followers, interns, employees and converts.
"Stewardship of the land is one of the highest callings that you can answer,” he said. "All that passion, all that love, all that care and respect comes out in a really superior product.”
He said the topic that hit closest to people's lives was the people element.
"We can talk about happy cows, happy pigs and good tomato plants but, at the end of the day, if there is no harmony in the home, it doesn't work,” he said.
"It doesn't have a lot to do with business but our farms businesses are outgrowth of the function of how the family functions.”
He said a major issue concerning farmers, espec- ially in the Central High- lands, was isolation.
"Farming is a pretty lonely thing and we all need a pick-me-up,” he said.
"Farmers need enthus- iasm just like anybody else.”
He would like people to take away a can-do attitude.
"If they can leave here with a can-do spirit, that's as good as anything,” he said.
"If you have a can-do spirit, then you are open to new ideas, you are open to try things, you are open to refine and tweak.
"If you don't have a can-do spirit, if you think it is all going to fail and it is all a mess, you are never going to get where you want to go.”
A household name in agriculture, Mr Salatin operates Polyface Farm, a renowned multi-species, multi-pasture grass based enterprise in Virginia, USA.
Termed "beyond organic”, Polyfaces Farm boasts an operation so environment- ally friendly and productive, it claims to mitigate global warming while averaging 400 cow days (what one cow will eat in a day) an acre.
"So often we have this notion that in order to be economical or profitable, you have to sacrifice the environment,” he said.
"If every farmer in the US would practise this system rather than a grain-based, annual based, tillage system, in fewer than 10 years we would sequester all the carbon that's been emitted since the beginning of the industrial age.”