Rabobank, farmers celebrate 25 years of co-operation

Rabobank party to mark 25 years in Dubbo draws almost 300 farmers.

Life & Style

Almost 300 farmers turned out to celebrate 25 years of Rabobank's Dubbo operations on Thursday night.


WHEN rain finally fell and photos and video of farmers doing "crazy things" to celebrate, Rabobank's general manager, country, Marcel van Doremaele chuckled to himself, because his own staff were doing the same.

And that, he said, represented the shared aspirations of the bank and its clients.

On Thursday night almost 300 farmers gathered to mark 25 years of the bank's operations in Dubbo.

The party was at the Royal Flying Doctors Service's Discovery Centre.

A lubricated, sit-down, slap-up meal brought together farmers spread out across the west, from Bourke to Wellington, from Coonamble to Cassilis.

They heard from author of MatchFit Andrew May and National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson.

Mr May has deep links with farming within his own family and has written a book that combines performance psychology, sport science, nutrition, physiotherapy, exercise physiology, neuroscience, sleep and longevity.

He has corralled years of experience as a high-achieving sportsman and years travelling with the Australian cricket team, working with the AFL team the Sydney Swans and weathering his own personal "perfect storm".

He made the crowd laugh at his anecdotes and then honed in on his message, "it is okay to not always be okay".

A survivor of melanoma, he said it was important to acknowledge change, otherwise change could creep up on you and land you in a world of trouble.

He said he had experienced two years living functionally depressed after a marriage breakdown and had to draw on life lessons to get him through.

"I tried alcohol, fast food and speed dating," he said.

Mr May drew laughs when he said: "If you've got flashing lights on the tractor dash, what do you do? You get it fixed."

That was what farmers needed to learn about their own bodies, he said.

"The average male aged 55-plus is lucky to have one mate he can sit down and talk with about the things that matter - I want to change that."

Mrs Simson urged everyone to avoid the the term "but I'm just a farmer".

She said Australian agriculture was amazing and operating in a space few other countries did, bereft as it was of subsidies, as opposed to many of its competitiors that considered handouts part of being a primary producer.

She said the amount of natural capital held by farmers was huge.

"We are responsible for managing grasslands, tress and waterways and it's expensive to do these things.

"Are Australians willing to pay for this management," she asked.

Last year had been difficult, she said, despite the drought and bushfires, animal activists had taken a toll on farmers' collective lot.

"These days city people really don't seem to have a connection with their own country, once upon a time they would drive to the country on their holidays and swim in a river - now they fly to Fiji."

She said a collaborative attitude to educate the cityfolk was needed.

"We (the NFF) need you and your industry needs you too."


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