JARVIS Creek beef farmer Cate Kirk is one of four finalists in a prestigious Victorian award.
She will find out on February 7 if she has won the Victorian Rural Women’s Award, which would qualify her for the national titles.
Yesterday, she described being a Victorian finalist as “an incredible honour”.
“For years I’ve been chasing children and cattle and what this award has done is open up the opportunity for another level of agriculture,” she said.
“The award introduces an incredible alumni and network of rural women who are all fostering each other and helping each other progress.
“This will help advance my award vision.”
That vision is centred on effective succession planning, which Ms Kirk hopes to achieve through the internet.
A quick run-through of some basic statistics reinforces why she sees that as so important.
For starters, the average age of a North East farmer is 59.
“In the next 10 years we’re going to see half of the farms transfer ownership in the North East,” Ms Kirk said.
“To look for information is huge. What I want to do is provide an interactive hub to provide the information and resources on succession planning.
“There is great information out there but it’s hard to find.”
That could include facts, figures and advice from the Department of Primary Industries, the Grains Council of Australia and Goulburn Murray Hume Ag Care, along with the many private firms that work in the field.
Ms Kirk said there were significant production losses tied in with farm succession.
“Assume on average that it takes three years for a farm to transfer in ownership — for those three years it will produce 30 per cent less profits,” she said.
Ms Kirk said the best-case scenario is that if half of the 2536 farms in the North East changed hands in the next 10 years, each of those farms would lose about $35,000.
“That’s when you’re looking at agricultural production for the region of about $300 million a year,” she said.
“If the farmers can arrange some sort of transfer between the generations, whether that’s sold or whatever the process is, that’s fantastic.”
Ms Kirk, a Goulburn Murray Hume Ag Care board member, also praised the mentoring provided through the awards from women with experience in agriculture.