STORY BY PETER VAUGHN
The Trevaskis property “Greenlands” near Orbost, Victoria has been in the family since 1908 when it was originally selected by Ian’s grandfather, a one-legged home missionary and mixed farmer. Rosanne and Ian were married in the UK in 1979, and Rosanne, Scottish by birth, viewed her immigration to Australia in 1981 with some concern as she imagined she was coming to an area of red desert.
Ian’s father had been running dairy cattle on the farm, then in 1989 Ian and Rosanne took over and Ian, tired of the poor returns and physical demands of dairy farming looked to beef cattle as a better commercial option for the property. He chose to develop his herd from beefy Belgian Blue bulls, a breed with good temperament and extra rump muscling that matures early.
By 1995, after six years of raising and selling beef cattle, and now with five children to support, Ian and Rosanne felt they had come to a fork in the road. The farm was not proving profitable as the costs of traditional farming methods, middle men and unreliable prices were consuming most of their income and leaving very little return for the work done.
After some research they decided to join Gippsbeef, a farmer’s cooperative based in Gippsland, which promoted the selling of high quality prime beef direct from the farm to the customer. Gippsbeef member farms follow the Meat Standards Australia beef production standards, which ensures customers receive consistent high quality tender meat, which is grown in a low stress environment.
The move to Gippsbeef improved the fortunes of the Trevaskis farm and then, ten years ago, Ian and Rosanne switched the farm to the Enviromeat EMS accreditation system. Enviromeat is still under the umbrella of Gippsbeef, and meets quality standards of Meat Standards Australia, but with the extra requirement that registered farms must develop a sustainable environmental plan and be externally audited.
Ian has seen the fortunes of the farm improve since moving to direct marketing with Enviromeat accreditation.
“By buying our meat, customers are helping us to be more environmentally responsible. We now practice regenerative agriculture on the property, repairing the damage done in the past through unsustainable farming practices, farming profitably, in ways that also give back to the land.”
The Trevaskis farm now supplies prime yearling beef to about 50 regular customers per season. The customer makes her order directly to the farm, and when the animal is in prime condition, usually during spring and autumn, it is moved to the abattoir, slaughtered and taken to a local butcher of the customer’s choice. There, the cuts ordered by the customer are prepared, packed and picked up.
The Belgian Blue cross cattle grown on the Trevaskis farm, are fed natural grass with grazing rotated across the property. The animals are not fed grain so the meat is high in health giving Omega 3, nor are the animals given hormone growth promoters or preventative antibiotics to stimulate their growth.
Under their Environmental Management plan Ian and Rosanne have done much to restore the environment and productivity of the property. The creek has been fenced and native plants regenerated, off stream watering has been installed, paddocks realigned to reduce erosion and stocking rates maintained according to the carrying capacity of the land. The use of super phosphate has been replaced with rock phosphate and soil carbon is being built up through the use of pasture cropping.
Rosanne sees the changes they have made a benefit for both the land and their bottom line. “I think most farmers are green-minded people, but no one can be green if they are being squeezed financially. I think we have found a way to be good farmers and also care for our land.”
EXTACT FROM “PRIMARY PRODUCER MAGAZINE” a weekly pull-out section from the SNOWY RIVER MAIL 20/9/10
East Gippsland Newspapers
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