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Milly Wastie's 'once in a life time' trip Down Under

Published on 8th December 2014

Guild member Milly Wastie, who is Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution East Midlands regional manager, reports on her recent trip to Australia for the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth  conference.

"Thanks to the generous support from the Royal Smithfield Club I was fortunate to travel to Brisbane, Australia, for the 2014 conference and farm tour, organised by the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC) and
hosted by the Royal National Agricultural Society of Queensland. Milly Wastie

"After meeting Andrew Gilmour, who is the RASC treasurer, at the Oxford Farming conference earlier this year, he informed me about the RASC conference.

"The RASC was founded in 1957 by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and today its president is the Princess Royal who actively participates in the conference programme having travelled to Brisbane this year, spending four days with participants.

"The aims of the organisation are to promote agricultural show societies from across the commonwealth and provide a network for discussion and information sharing.

"A bi-annual conference is organised with future conferences being held in Singapore during 2016 and Canada during 2018. In addition, next generation delegates are urged to apply to the conference programme as well as taking part in organised missions to developing commonwealth countries.

"Show societies are encouraged to apply to the RASC for grants to allow a next generation delegate to benefit from the opportunity.

"More information can be found here.

"The two-week event comprised an organised tour around different farming businesses across rural Queensland followed by a five-day conference in the newly refurbished RICC building in Brisbane. We were treated to the most wonderful hospitality, with locally sourced food, drink and wine. 

"Having never travelled to Australia before this was, to me, a trip of a lifetime and was definitely a fantastic way to travel and explore just a small snippet of the country. When people say that Australia is huge, until you get there you don’t appreciate just how vast things are.

"The tour took us off the beaten track and we were treated to several different visits to local farming businesses from large-scale vegetable growers, a robotic milking parlour, a vineyard and stud farms to a 34,000-head cattle feedlot.

Feedlot

"It was refreshing to understand that Australian farmers have similar challenges to UK farmers and interesting to see how they manage water consumption with irrigation given the hot climate, as well as the distance to market.

"Because of the vast amount of space and a small population, land usage wasn’t so much of an issue, which made me smile when a dairy farmer had numerous grassy fields to rotate his stock on daily.

Hendra Virus is a big concern to horse studs and cattle drafters. It echoed our concerns for the UK issue of Bovine TB as Hendra virus is spread by bats to horses and in some cases humans.

"Whilst there is now a vaccine for the horses, it is making a huge impact on exports and breeding stock and little is being done to home in on the disease reservoir.

"Back to the conference and we had numerous presentations on the marketing of agriculture, how to put a good entertainment programme together and topics such as biosecurity, seeking sponsorship and food security.

"I came away buzzing having met so many wonderful people from across the globe. I have learnt so much from others and by visiting the farm businesses too. I’m definitely going to apply my new found knowledge in future presentations and the conference has given me new angles and opportunities to explore.

"For more information on the conference or the RASC drop me a line by email or give me a call on: 07752 989544."

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