CO-OPERATIVE farming leader Lorraine Gordon has been awarded the national 2018 Rural Community Leader of the Year title by Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The New South Wales-based director of the Farming Together program was presented with the award yesterday at a ceremony in the Mural Hall of Parliament House.
It is the ninth consecutive year of the awards, this year officially opened by the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud. The awards are sponsored by ABC Rural and the Kondinin Group.
Since 2016, Lorraine Gordon has created possibly Australia’s largest community of primary producers keen to boost their margins by forming co-operatives and collaborations in the $14.9 million Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program called Farming Together.
The Federal Government initiative aims to provide farmers, fishers and foresters with knowledge, skills and materials on collaborative ideas, co-operative structures and collective strategies.
In the last year, 57 new agricultural co-operatives have been encouraged to form and register through the program.
In what is believed to be the biggest annual growth in agricultural co-operatives in Australian farming history, the program attracted 28,500 participants in 730 farming, fishing and forestry groups from across the country.
Lorraine Gordon is a beef cattle farmer at Ebor, in northern NSW. Her company Moffat Falls Pty Ltd runs guided fly fishing and holiday cottages/cabins adjacent to New England National Park, as well as the Yaraandoo Eco Lodge and Function Centre.
For Farming Together she assembled a team from three states to service people from diverse agricultural, forestry and fishing industries across the country. Projects that have been developed and delivered successfully through the program in only one year include support for the Australian Ethical Merino Growers’ Co-op and the Waratah Alpaca Fibre Cooperative; a cropping supply-chain logistics project resulted in a 200pc return with its first two deals; the world’s-first online do-it-yourself, free co-op builder, and; Australia’s first farmer-grown mutual fund, backed by several major agri-financiers including global giant Swisse Re Corporate Solutions.
Ben Roche, Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor Ben Roche said Lorraine Gordon has a deep commitment to rural communities and understanding of the role agriculture plays.
“The respect that Lorraine earned with the Farming Together project is spelled-out in this national award.
“It honours not only Lorraine, her team and the support offered them by Southern Cross University, but the willingness of Australian farms to engage with the program,” he said.
Wonderful recognition of one of this country’s top female thinkers.