By Carol Saffer
Ballan local business owner Vicki Sher has attended the Women in Agriculture Luncheon at the Royal Melbourne Show for the past five years
Vicki and her husband Nick own and run Beefcorp – a fully-integrated Wagyu business producing their own seedstock, running a commercial herd, custom processing and selling branded meat to restaurants and export markets.
Ms Sher said the event (organised by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria) highlights what women are doing in agriculture.
“And it gives us a chance to get together, share stories and support each other,” she said.
While it is a social event, Ms Sher said it always has a very positive vibe.
“If you are feeling under the pump, feeling the pressure, it is important that women in all different types of agriculture can share their stories so that we can all know what is going on.”
Ms Sher says while farmers in central or southern Victoria are not too badly affected at the moment by the drought, “everyone is touched by the drought in certain ways” with one sheep farmer at her table recently having to quit a lot of her stock.
“Perseverance is a common trait in farmers as there is often a long gestation period to get your product to market.
“It takes so many factors to create a product, get it out to market and to sustain it,” Ms Sher said.
“Hearing other women’s stories at the lunch gives an insight into what they do, how long it takes, and their aspirations.”
Australia’s biggest farmer of insects for human consumption Skye Blackburn was a speaker at the lunch.
“Skye, an entomologist and food scientist, was amazing. Here is someone who you think is very new, yet she has been at it for ten years,” Ms Sher said,
The Sher’s started breeding Wagyu in 1991 for the Japanese market, now they export to 14 countries and supply 100 restaurants in Australia.
After listening to the lunch’s six speakers and talking with the women on her table Ms Sher says you can often underestimate what you do yourself.
“But the fact that you can have an affect or a positive impact on people is pretty important but also humbling.”
A woman, who is a pork producer, told Mrs Sher recently “I met you 15 years ago when you told your story about how you [Beefcorp] started and how long it took.
“Every time things are tough I think about that [you] and where Beefcorp is now and I know we can do it.”