Providing practical information to help you protect your farm from biosecurity risks

Biosecurity Farmer of the Year 2011

The Biosecurity Farmer of the Year is someone who has demonstrated initiative and motivation to address the potential risks to their business and livelihood from diseases, pests and weeds. Proudly hosted by Plant Health Australia and Animal Health Australia, the award forms part of the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards, which celebrate the highly professional, innovative and sustainable approach of our farmers, showcasing their passion and raising the profile of the important role they play.

And the winners are …

By any measure, Pepe Bonaccordo and Sandra and Peter Young, winners of the 2011 Biosecurity Farmer of the  Year Award,  are some of Australian agriculture’s great success stories.

Having put home-grown duck firmly on the Australian dinner plate, over the past two decades Pepe Bonaccordo has been cementing the future growth of the industry by developing and enforcing uncompromising standards on biosecurity, food safety and animal welfare. These outstanding efforts saw him become this year’s Biosecurity Farmer of the Year (animal category) at the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards held in Sydney.

“We feel very excited about the win,” Mr Bonaccordo said. “It does tell us that a lot of the hard work that we’ve done has been recognised by other people. It’s important that we build a great foundation underneath our market, and that foundation is: good farming management practices, good biosecurity, animal welfare, food safety, training – that’s what brands are built on.”

Winners of the Biosecurity Farmer of the Year (plant category), Sandra and Peter Young of the Birdwood Nursery, are similarly proactive in biosecurity. Birdwood helped pioneer a nursery industry accreditation scheme and in 2006 became one of the first nurseries to achieve EcoHort certification.

Producing more than 150,000 trees annually, the Youngs say biosecurity has been at the forefront of all production processes in the business. “A sound on-farm biosecurity program becomes part of your brand and helps to maintain market access and open new opportunities in the future,” said Peter Young.

The Farm Biosecurity team would like to congratulate the winners of both categories and the other  finalists. They all demonstrate that successful biosecurity practices are not only part of responsible farming – they can also be great for business.

Meet the finalists

Lindsay Bourke owns Australian Honey Products and is chairman of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council. At the age of 60, when most people would be looking forward to retirement, Lindsay relaunched his honey career with just 92 hives.

“We are the most threatened agricultural industry in Australia, with no less than twenty separate threats to the survival of Australia’s European bees.”

Tom Hill is a partner and manager at his family-owned farm of 1500 hectares of crops, and oversees 200 hectares of pasture for Merino ewes in a prime lamb venture. Tom has aphilosophy that everything enters and leaves the property clean:

“We don’t want to take weeds or diseases onto any other property and we don’t want them to arrive on ours.”

Bill Casey of Botanical Resources Australia in Ulverstone, Tasmania, grows pyrethrum daisy for its valuable insecticide. The company has recently expanded its operations from northern Tasmania onto the mainland. Come summer white fields of daisies will be a common sight around Ballarat, Victoria, with combine harvesters reaping the growing number of fields of flowers in the district.

“It’s a kind of insurance, and as with all risk management, such as fire insurance, there are some immediate costs and perhaps some extra work, but the benefits from risk management far exceed the costs and time involvement.”

Lynn and Ian Rathjen, owners of ‘Whistling Eagle’ at Colbinabbin, run a successful vineyard with some cereal crops, pastures and stud Border Leicester flock. They make red and white wines on site from the 30 hectare vineyard but also sell fruit to others.

“We implemented strict biosecurity practices because there was an immediate threat to our income and way of life.”