Local farming leaders were well-represented, with 2014 Farmer of the Year Derek Blomfield, and Nuffield scholars Guy Hebblewhite and Andrew Watson making presentations.
Senator Bridget McKenzie, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee chairwoman, gave the opening address.
She said the conference theme was ‘Innovation in agriculture – capturing the opportunities’, which “couldn’t be more appropriate for this region”.
“Agricultural producers in New England and the north-west region have always been natural, resourceful and resilient innovators.”
Senator McKenzie said the region’s farmers managed about 10 per cent of the state’s land.
“This important agricultural region contains 16 per cent of all farm businesses in NSW and in 2015-16, agricultural production was worth $2.8 billion, which represented just over a fifth of the total value of agriculture in the state,” she said.
“The most significant commodities in the region were cattle and calves ($741 million), followed by cotton ($442m) and wheat ($390m).”
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Luke Hartsuyker, said the region’s farmers were fundamental to the economic success of the entire region as well as the growing national and global demand for food.
“Through generations of farmers, they have never been afraid of trying new ways to get the most out of their land,” he said.
“We believe that supporting farmers to innovate and be as productive as possible is core government business, that is why the Coalition government will continue to do everything we can to back farmers from [this region] into the future.”
The full-day program also featured such high-profile speakers as ABARES executive director Steve Hatfield-Dodds and one-time NSW Rural Woman of the Year Lorraine Gordon.
- More stories to come