BIG Conversation talks water


Nth Victorian irrigators talk all things water at the BIG Conversation, a shire iniative to get farmers together.

The recently held BIG Conversation, an imitative to get northern Victorian irrigators together to discuss water and the water industry has been a huge success.
Event organiser Kerry Anderson said the overnight event was a unique concept where networking and sharing of information was the main aim.
Around 80 people attended both events, one was held in Barham the other in Echuca.
Guest speakers and tours were a feature of the event as well as a bit of socialising.
"Our priority was to get people off the farm and provide some down time," Ms Anderson said.
She said the event was never about telling irrigators what to do.
" At the end of the day if you got in your car and headed home with a new idea, then we achieved what we had set out to do," Mrs Anderson said.
 Pyramid Hill mixed farmers Glen and Cheryl McKinnon enjoyed the Barham BIG Conversation  so much, they attended the Echuca event as well.
``We got a lot out of the Barham event, it was thought provoking and motivating so we thought we should keep the ball rolling and attend the Echuca event as well,' Mrs McKinnon said.
The McKinnon's were seriously considering their future in farming.  They run a mixed farming enterprise with sheep, cattle and irrigated cropping on 2500 acres.
They were concerned about water prices and delivery shares and the impact this would have on their farming practices.
The cost of irrigation was making us unviable as a business enterprise. We know now with good advice and planning, we have a way to move forward, Mr McKinnon said.
"After listening to guest speakers and other farmers we have decided to embrace modernisation. We will be fully involved in it when it gets to us in October. We are now thinking we can be quite profitable with less water using better irrigation systems."
One thing the McKinnon's found surprising was the openness with which people talked about their problems.
``Farmers tend to keep things to themselves but we have had some very frank and honest discussions and it really helped us,' Mrs McKinnon said
Cohuna dairy farmer Jodie Hay said the BIG Conversation  provided an opportunity to get out and about and see what other people were doing.
``People are having a go at different things and many are thinking outside the square,' Mrs Hay said.
``Over the course of the day the feeling amongst the group changed and there was less negativity around.'


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