WAFarmers acknowledges award winners

The Western Australian Farmers Federation (Inc) (WAFarmers) recognised six people for their service to the Federation and the agricultural industry during its Gala Dinner and Award Ceremony, sponsored by the CBH Group, as part of the 2013 Annual Conference, presented by the Emerald Grains, last week.

Former WAFarmers President, Colin Nicholl, was awarded life membership while Distinguished Service Awards were presented to Des Seymour and Jeff Murray. Industry Service Awards were presented to Sue Pike and Arthur Marshall while Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance Coordinator and Merredin Zone Coordinator, Jane Fuchsbichler, was the recipient of the President’s Award.

WAFarmers President, Dale Park, said all recipients were extremely worthy of their awards and their commitment and contribution to WAFarmers and agriculture had been extremely important.

“All the award winners have been involved in different sectors, but their contributions are equally as important to ensure that our agricultural industry in this state continues to grow,” Mr Park said.

Mr Nicholl was awarded life membership for his service for WAFarmers which dates back to 1985 and includes being the General President between 2000 and 2004. He has also held the Occupational Health and Safety, Transport and Farm Business Management, Trade, Communications portfolios and represented WAFarmers on the National Farmers Federation Executive.

From 2001 to 2004, Mr Nicholl was Chairman of the WAFarmers Industrial Association (WAFFIA) and from November 2001 to March 2004 was the inaugural President/Chairman of the WAFarmers Board. Since 2004, Mr Nicholl has remained very active in agriculture; being a Director on Boards and studying agriculture.

“While Mr Nicholl has leased one of his farms, he is still operating a 3,800 hectares grain and livestock property at Hyden and is his still a Councillor on the Grains Section,” Mr Park said.

Mr Seymour’s Distinguished Service Award was not only for his service to WAFarmers, but also his community and agriculture in general. He has been a WAFarmers member since 1957 and his collaborative approach is definitely his strong suit as he helps connect WAFarmers to what is happening in the local area and across the state.

Current Meat Section President, Mr Murray, was awarded the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his outstanding service to WAFarmers and strong representation and advocacy on behalf of all WA meat producers.

Mr Murray has been a member of WAFarmers since 1968 during this time he served as President of the Meat Section whilst also upholding the position of vice president of the Meat Section from 1997 to 2007.

“Jeff has been a committed and passionate champion for the WA meat industry.  He has willingly taken on many demanding and time-consuming roles to ensure the producer’s voice is heard throughout all levels of industry and government. Some of these roles include Chair of NLIS WA State Committee (2003 – 2012), member of the WA OJD Committee (2001 – 2012), Vice-President of Sheep Meat Council (1999 – 2000 and 2012), Chairman of WA Sheep and Goats Industry Management Scheme Committee (2012 –current) and MLA Research and Development,” Mr Park said.

“Mr Marshall was awarded the Industry Service Award for championing Bulk Fertiliser Spreading in WA and as a man who challenged the old methods.”

In 1954, he realised that bulk handling would be the way of the future and worked out that super phosphate that took six weeks to cart and spread could be spread in two days using bulk. He kept talking to a superphosphate company but it took three years before they grasped the concept of contractors giving a spreading service. Bulk direct to farm then spread – no bags.

He started developing the bulk spreader, starting with a trailer with a single vee bottom. He then changed to a double vee bottom for greater capacity and even spreading. These spreaders were later fitted to truck chassis.

The development of a rubber belt at the bottom of the spreader was another great advance. These spreaders were a gigantic revolution for the superphosphate deficient farms of WA.

Mrs Pike and her family have been members of WAFarmers since 1974 and in that time she has served the Zone for many years as a delegate to Annual Conference and more recently, from 2011 to 2013 as Zone Co-ordinator.

“Sue’s crowning achievement in this time was organising the Year of the Farmer Ball in York in 2012,” Mr Park said.

Mrs Fuchsbichler was awarded the President’s Award for her efforts and commitment to keeping the state’s Tier 3 rail network open. 

She has been the co-ordinator of the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance since its inaugural meeting at the end of 2010 until the present and she has raised the awareness of country and city people alike by speaking at metropolitan meetings on the consequences of closing the Tier 3 rail lines.  

“Jane is the single biggest reason that the Tier 3 rail lines remain open today and have a chance of saving farmers a huge amount of freight into the future,” Mr Park concluded.

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