Leaders who leave legacies we can all be proud of – where have they all gone?

Bob Hawke meme

I got a call earlier in the week from some-one looking for Bob Hawke’s Statement on the Environment speech from 1989. This was the day he announced that he had done the impossible and bought together farmers, conservationists and governments to form the Landcare movement. This week marks the 30th anniversary of Landcare

In Bob Hawke — 23rd prime minister, true moderniser and Labor giant — Australia found a political leader the likes of which we’d never seen before. Catherine Taylor Source

I knew I had a copy because I quoted from it when I won the inaugural Bob Hawke Landcare Award in 2012. That was the night I first met Bob Hawke (who clearly on the night would have preferred I was a little shorter for the photos). Its fascinating the things you remember from highlights in your life. What I remember most was Bob Hawke’s presence when he stood at the podium to make his speech. This was a man in his eighties who had the room spellbound. This was a man who was a great orator, a man who had achieved so much and left legacies like Landcare we can all be proud of.

Watch his fabulous interview with Pip Courtney here

What makes Bob Hawke stand out from the crowd is summed up by the man himself in this response to a question from Pip

Pip Courtney:

You brought warring parties together, farmers and conservationists. Is that your enduring legacy?

Bob Hawke:

I did that not only in regard to Landcare, but my whole approach in government was a consensus approach. When I said to business and trade unions, I said, “You each have legitimate objectives, business, to grow your businesses, unions, to gradually improve the wages and conditions of your members. You’re much more likely, each of you to achieve those legitimate objectives if you work together.” And we did that on the economic side, and I used the same approach in regard to the environment.

I was extraordinarily fortunate then having two great men to work with, the late Rick Farley, of the National Farmers Federation, and Phillip Toyne of the Australian Conservation Foundation. Remarkable Australians, and they’d basically been at loggerheads so much and I brought them together, and we formed a tripartite approach, which brought the strengths of government, the conservation movement and the farmers together, well we’ve seem the results.

Yes we all know #collaboration is the key. We all know there is no #PlanetB. Yet we struggle to elect leaders like Bob Hawke who understand that humans have to find a way to live in harmony with nature

It’s time to empower our new generation of courageous champions who will leave legacies we can all be proud of.



Tony Abbott – Nature has a longer memory and a sterner set of justice than we all do

Whether people like my style or not – I am confident one thing they will all say about me is I am action oriented.

I love doers. I admire people who can connect other like minded thinkers and take them with them on their journey for the greater good. And I have never met and worked with a movement that does this more effectively than Landcare.


For me 25 years on Landcare is an internationally recognised social and environmental movement

I have worked with Landcare in urban spaces and in peri urban environments. I have worked with Landcare on lifestyle farms and on commercial farms, with youth and in schools.

Landcare transcends traditional boundaries to do what nobody else in Australian agriculture has ever been able to successfully achieve in great numbers. That is getting farmers to partner and work together and with the community

Landcare is the perfect model and a shining example for agriculture of what a connected cohesive group of people can achieve together

And thanks to the efforts of Landcare we are reminded that we (as farmers) operate in a broader landscape than just our farms

Farmers who work with Landcare think about their properties as part of the broader catchment which has led to incredible environmental achievements.

I also admire the very bright mind that is Andrew Campbell whose  knowledge of all things land and water and his ability to express his thoughts and opinions verbally and on paper is quite possibly unparalleled in this country

This recent paper he wrote ( with Ian Rutherfurd) for the Conversation on the government’s recent budget decisions on Landcare is a great example

Some of the text that resonated with me on the budget

It  also repeats a pattern of reduced funding and weakened delivery started under former Prime Minister John Howard, and confuses improved agricultural productivity with improved environmental management.

Bait-and-switch is a retail trick where you advertise a product at a good price, pull the customers in, and then switch the product at the last moment for an inferior and/or more expensive version. Under the budget, the bait is Landcare, and the switch is the Green Army.

Funding that would have been gone to seasoned community volunteers, multiplying local efforts, will now go to projects done by inexperienced young people on less than the minimum wage.

No doubt many Landcare warriors would appreciate a hand from some willing young workers, but will the soldiers of the Green Army continue to maintain these projects into the future like the Landcarers would? Unlikely. They will bus in, do the project and leave.

Governments need to be careful about white-anting the business models of existing private sector environmental contractors, and disenfranchising passionate volunteers.

Landcare is about building social capital in rural communities and helping communities to promote sustainable land and water management and more effectively tackle common problems that cross farm boundaries.

I filtered all the content I had put in the category under  The Environment on my blog and I am honoured that I have had the opportunity to work closely with the Landcare movement on my farm and beyond and introduce its ethos and philosophies and goals to so many others.

You have been very short sighted Tony Abbott – our landscape is such an integral part of the health,wealth and happiness of every Australian how can you not value it and the people who nurture it so much more than this budget shows

Is there an Archie coming to a town near you? We might need your help

The Archibull Prize is a program that operates on love. Its is run by a very small dedicated team who have day jobs that hopefully (I try not to think about it) feed their families

Our major funding sponsor is Paul’s Milk who are a joy to work with and we will be doing some great things with them this year

Our industry supporters ( MLA,  AWI, Cotton Australia and GRDC) have grown over the years and together through the Young Farming Champions (YFC) program we are developing the next generation of agriculture’s leaders with a whole of supply chain focus mentality.

It was particularly rewarding to form an ongoing Young Farming Champions program partnership with NSW Farmers last year to help develop the next generation of skilled and knowledgeable policy formulators and drivers. We hope to be able to do this in other states but I must admit I am a little saddened that this is moving a lot slower than I envisioned

The 2014 YFC team all had the opportunity last week to spend a day behind the scenes with their industry sponsors. All of these wonderful young people are just itching to take every opportunity to talk to anyone and everyone about their industry and their career. We had some great fun sharing stories last weekend of conversations with taxi drivers who always ask “what do you do?” and  “Why are you in town”? As the wise Geoff Birchnell reminded us taxi drivers are the eyes and ears of the world and they are your captive audience don’t let the opportunity pass you by .


2014 Young Farming Champions doing agriculture proud

The truly rewarding thing for me about our industry partnerships is the clever ways industry is now wholeheartedly supporting the YFC to get out there and be loud and proud about their industries at every available opportunity. Sydney Royal Easter Show and the Ekka  watch out the YFC are coming to town in a big way on behalf of industry next year and it wont be stopping there.

This year by request from rural and regional Australia we are taking the Archibull Prize program to schools in their area. We did this for social reasons because our rural communities have been doing tough at the hands of mother nature and the heartfelt requests we were getting showed us this program had the potential to lift the community spirit well beyond the school playground.

When we said yes we knew the major limiting factor cost wise was cartage. Just as an example it cost us $10,000 plus to get the finalists to and from the Sydney Royal Easter Show so you can imagine what it might cost to get 4 fibreglass cows to the Atherton Tablelands let alone to all these schools

2014 Archibull Prize Schools

Is their an Archie in a town near you 

When we started to develop the partnerships that could possibly allay some of the costs and even more importantly give our farmers and their community members an opportunity to have ownership of the program in their region, the journey as you might have noticed from previous posts this week has been fraught with frustration. But it has also delivered some great joy and new partnerships that are going to add so much value to the students experience .

One of the reasons we were bombarded by rural schools this year was the wonderful promotion ( unbeknown to me at the time) of the program by Landcare Australia and wow those Landcare groups will move heaven and earth to bring people together in the spirit of community. Huge hugs and kisses to Mary Bonet and Christie Elemam.  Barnaby should be doubling the budget for Landcare not halving it.

The wonderful James Walker called in some favours from to GD Partners to have Mt Isa School of the Air’s Archie freighted to Longreach to some very happy kids last week

Mt Isa School of the Air

The adorable Katrina Nixon will be working with Fife’s Stockfeeds in Goulburn and her trusty horse float to get the cows delivered to schools in her region

Skinners Premium Meats in Cowra will be hosting the Archies in their main street frontage window prior to Landcare rallying the troops to pick them up to go to schools in Forbes and Eugowra as well as local schools. Special thanks to former Cowra girl and now Cotton OZ staffer Sophie Davidson for pulling that one off.

Speaking of Cotton Australia, breathed a big sigh of relief when we had schools in cotton country participating. I was confident there would be many hands on deck to make light work and I wasn’t disappointed. Kudos to Nigel Corish and his cotton growers team who will be helping get the Archies to St George and Goondiwindi this week.

Thanks to the Gateway Schools team in Far North Queensland we are now talking to a potential freight partner for the Atherton Tablelands and James has put his thinking cap on again for Cloncurry and Charter Towers

We could however do with some help for Wagga and Tumut. Please feel free to send me an email lynnestrong@art4agriculture.com.au if you have any ideas

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Archies on display at the 2014 Royal Easter Show 

How will I spend $50K

This week I was honoured and humbled to receive agriculture’s newest and most prestigious accolade The Bob Hawke Landcare Award in front of 850 people at the Sydney Convention Centre.


As you can see from this picture I was pretty chuffed


Me with National Young Landcarer of the Year and Young Eco Champion Megan Rowlatt


The adorable John Carter from South East Landcare and Megan


It was Michael’s first outing since his big op and he was determined to be there and he was pretty pleased that he pulled that off

The award comes with two extraordinary opportunities. Firstly I will receive a prize of up to $50,000 to develop my  knowledge and skills in sustainable land management and secondly I will also have an honorary position on the Australian Landcare Council for a period of two years.

So you may ask what am going to do with $50K. Well firstly I wont be spending on me .

What I would like to do is look at change and what drives change and what hinders change. I would like to look at this from three different angles. Firstly young people, secondly my generation and thirdly farmers in my region. My project will be cross industry and I look forward to meeting lots of new and exciting and dynamic thought leaders and doers in the agrifood sector.

I firmly believe farmers of today do not have the opportunity to access and develop the skills sets that will allow them to survive and prosper in 21st. Firstly we have to acknowledge that producing great food and fibre just isn’t good enough any more. Secondly we have just got to get out there more and build relationships with all the key players and pivotally get intimate knowledge and understanding of how the supply chain works.

We have got to be able predict what our customers are thinking before they think it.  We have to be able to predict what the processors and manufacturers are thinking before think it and we have to be able to predict what the supermarkets are thinking before they think it. We have to be at least one step ahead of the curve every step of the way. This will require expertise farmers have not traditionally had access to and my commitment to my fellow farmers is to change this paradigm in my lifetime.

My vision is for an exciting, dynamic, innovative and PROFITABLE agrifood sector that our next generation best and brightest see as a  career of first choice. My mission is to turn my vision into everyone’s vision and this will require government, industry, the community and farmers, in fact the whole of supply chain working side by side.

First stop for me is the Bush Capital next Tuesday where I have meetings with policy and decision makers as well as the opportunity to attend the DAFF Youth in Ag Think Tank and hear what the bright young minds see as the way forward for agriculture in this country

Let me re-share this reflection with you on why I farm and why I live and breathe my mission

I am often asked why I like being a farmer and to be honest it was never my lifelong dream to farm. I farm today because the people I most care about in the world farm and they are in it for the long haul.

I grew up on a farm and even though I enjoyed being hands on in the day to day running of the farm and the lifestyle that comes with it the idea of being a farmer was most definitely not on my list of top 10 professions.

I have been back on the farm for ten years now and I will be the first to admit farming is a highly rewarding profession for a multitude of reasons.

Today I will list just a few

Firstly farmers are an essential service, they feed people and whether people admit it or not everybody wants to be needed.

Secondly farming today is a very risky business and I like the mental intensity, the constant review process, the drive to get up each day and do it better. The fulfilling challenge of balancing productivity, people, animals and the planet

Thirdly inspirational people farm. Feeding, clothing and housing the world now and in the next 50 years is going to require an extraordinary effort. This means we need extraordinary people to take up the challenge. When I work with inspirational people, they light my fire, feed my soul and challenge me to continue to strive to make a unique contribution to agriculture and the community.

and then there is this

the satisfaction you get when you have managed to farm in a way that balances the needs of the rainforest and the animals who live there

Lynne In The Rainforest

with farm productivity that allows you to supply 50,000 Australians daily with milk whilst at the same time ensuring your cows cow remain happy and healthy.

AYOF  (3)

the buzz you get when next gen share the passion and commitment

Nick  (3)

the fascination of watching generations of cows tread the same path each time they walk into the paddock


the amusement you get when the cow who detours to the water trough


then charges down the paddock like a teenager to ensure she doesn’t miss out on the sweetest grass


and the special relationships you develop with the people and the animals in your team

Emma Fav  (7)

the satisfaction of working with next gen

View album

Why I farm


to turn this

Picasso Cows Arboretum 07 Aug IMGP2068

into this

reveg east laneway

then this


and today


Picasso Corner a triumph for community partnerships, biodiversity and the farm

and then the raw reality of watching the circle of life each day. When the chickens you nurtured  from eggs are killed and eaten by a goshawk (thanks to twitter verse for identifying my nasty bird) and wake up next morning and remember the chickens got three weeks of a great life they wouldn’t have had without you interfering with nature. Even if in the end it was nature who decided they would play a different role in the food chain .


I love to farm because its real, there is a true sense of place and time. There is an purity and an innocence that comes with a respect of the land that feeds us that living and working in the city will never deliver.

BTW Thank you so much to everyone for the emails, phone calls, flowers, twitter you have all been so wonderful with messages of congratulations. Totally overwhelming xoxoxo