WAYNE Dunford has mulled over running for the NSW Farmers’ presidency for the better part of a year and will nonimate at the organisation’s annual conference next month.
Head of a mixed family farming business based from “Lynton”, Gunningbland, about 25 kilometres from Parkes, Mr Dunford believes farming needs all the representation it can get.
Including two properties north of Brewarrina and the Parkes holdings of 1600ha the family farms alomst 14,000 hectares in total.
“There’s a lot of people these days that want to stop farming and if we’re not on the front foot all the time we get hammered,” he said.
“It wasn’t an overnight decision to run, various members suggested I should think about putting my hand up 10 or 11 months ago, and I have because, quite honestly, as farmers we’re being attacked.
“Take the drought out of the equation, most commodity prices are pretty good, but no side of politics is 110 per cent behind agriculture and NSW Farmers is,” said Mr Dunford.
He has sat on the organisation’s board in the past, from 2011 to 2016, is currently on the business, economics and trade committee and is currently chairman of the National Farmers Federation’s economics and farm business committee.
In his NFF role he has been involved in Inland Rail and developing national regulations with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
He said before the NFF became involved with the NHVR, companies such as Linfox and Toll had been leading formation of regulations and nothing had been coming from farmers.
Mr Dunford said NSW Farmers was in a good spot at the moment.
“We’re financially and structurally sound and I think we’ve got staff second to none of all the state farming bodies in the country,” he said.
“But as with any organisation when things are good we’ve got to encourage our grassroots membership to be actively involved.
“I don’t think they’re being ignored, they’re just not encouraged enough and potentially positive contributions to many of the issues facing farmers exist within our membership,” he said.
“It’s three quarters as good as you’d want it.
“I think we’ve got about 5000 members at the moment and there’s about 17,000 to 18,000 farmers in NSW.
“We’re not dependent on membership fees for our survival, we’re pretty self sufficient.”
Mr Dunford said harnessing the power of the membership was where the organisation should be headed.
“All farmers are passionate about what they do or they wouldn’t be in the game.
“We’ve got to educate people that being a member is an integral part of their business, we must manage marketing the benefits of being a mmber to both members and potential members,” he said.
“Farmers are a minority group and we need to be an active minority group.
“Too often we’re caught on the backfoot.
“We need a groundswell push to politicians.”
Mr Dunford said he had never been and never would be a member of a political party but believes he has something to “add to the mix” of NSW Farmers.
He was a driving force behind the formation of NSW’s second rural financial counselling service, has chaired the Grains Research and Development Corporation South West regional advisory committee and set up the Australian Producers Co-op.
He is 67 and on Monday was sowing Buloke barley that he hopes will be grazed in spring “if it rains”.
The 800ha paddock next door was sown to canola earlier in the year but failed.
“We’ve had 100 millimetres of rain for the year, 50mm in a storm and the rest in 16 falls,” he said.
Mr Dunford and his wife Pamela’s son Phillip and wife Cindy manage the family concerns on a daily basis, giving Mr Dunford time to work for NSW Farmers, which is “not a part-time job”.