By Reef Extension Graduate Harry James
I recently attended a two-day grazing forum organised by Cape York NRM. The purpose of the forum was to provide graziers and their families and employees with an opportunity to network with other graziers and gain information about a wide range of topics including improved business practices, biosecurity, adapting to climate variability, rural financial counselling quad bike safety and environmental sustainability.
I spent the two days engaging with graziers, learning about the industry by attending sessions, as well as a lot of logistical assistance—cooking steaks for 80 people is a significant undertaking!
What struck me from the experience was the friendliness of graziers on the Cape, as well as their knowledge of the land. Every session always had lively discussion and engagement between the presenter and the graziers, which meant there were great opportunities for everyone to see a topic from different perspectives. As someone completely new to the industry, I felt privileged to be able to dive straight in and meet landholders in Cape York.
One conclusion I reached from the forum is that learning is a two-way process. Graziers will not learn how to improve their land management by being told what to do with no room for discussion. Neither will extension officers be able to facilitate change without stepping into grazier’s shoes, listening to their side of things and adjusting their approaches accordingly.
In addition to this I learned a lot of more technical information about the industry, including how to conduct a biopsy on a cow, how to reduce cattle mortality and promote growth through strategic spelling and how to successfully achieve succession in a farming business.
I’ll use this forum as a launching pad for developing my knowledge of the grazing industry on the Cape, and great practical experience in engagement and extension. I’m looking forward to getting out in the field again and starting the process of developing professional relationships with graziers, which will occur as I build my confidence and knowledge through my mentor relationship.