Seminars give women in grain a support base

Seminar held in November at Spring Ridge, on the Liverpool Plains near Tamworth, NSW

By Kay Ansell

Womens’ Farm Business Seminars, started last year in Moree by Conservation Farmers Inc (CFI), have been so successful that the grower group is expanding the program this year to south-east and central Queensland.

CFI’s Moree extension agronomist, Edwina Dreverman, says about 100 women had attended the first three seminars since the program started in July last year, and feedback had shown the days were providing what women on farms wanted.

Photo: Just what women want: a seminar held in November at Spring Ridge, on the Liverpool Plains near Tamworth, NSW.

“People are saying it’s great to have a day that is specifically for their needs, run at a time they can attend, in an environment they feel comfortable in,” she says. “Also, the topics we are presenting are exactly what they want to hear.”

The occupational health and safety (OH&S) and grain marketing speakers have drawn the biggest response, she says. The programs, which are jointly sponsored by CFI, Partners in Grain, NSW Agriculture and Rabobank, also typically include segments on farm business banking, succession planning and stress and anxiety management.

OH&S is becoming a bigger issue on farms, Ms Dreverman says, and the seminars provide information about incentive schemes, including grants for improving farm safety, with a special focus on how to make farms safe for children, as well as clarifying the legal liability issues associated with work safety.

Grain marketing and general farm management were roles that suited women if they were not working out in the paddock and had children, because it could fit around their family responsibilities.

The need to accommodate childrens’ school routines was one of the reasons for holding separate seminar days for women. “But also a lot of times I don’t think women would have the confidence if all the men were there,” Ms Dreverman says. “The number of questions that are asked at these days are ten-fold what the men would ask and there is no such thing as a silly question.

“Whereas men might get embarrassed to ask something that seems obvious, about, say, how do they actually get the price of grain – women won’t even hesitate.”

The segments on mental health acknowledged that women often carried the emotional load through troubled times, such as drought, because their husbands may find it difficult to ask for help. “The women have been at home copping the full force of the problems, so it is getting them out to share in a group and know that they are not the only ones going through it,” she says. “And also they can get some practical information about ways of managing stress and who is out there that they can talk to confidentially.”

Helen Malone, AWB’s area service manager for Moree, says she has had a very positive response to the AWB’s presentations on grain marketing, and sees grain marketing as a growth area for women growers.

The segments generally start by giving a global and domestic market outlook. “We tailor it to the audience, which can range from those who know little about grain marketing to those who have a lot of knowledge,” she says. “It’s a very supportive environment; most people would feel quite comfortable to ask anything.”

The content focused mainly on wheat and included different marketing options and simple business practise tips, such as keeping good diary notes of grain marketing phone conversations.

The seminars have led to follow-up activities, such as visits to AWB’s grain- flow sites, and the women attending have expressed interest in having seminars that focus specifically on grain marketing.

Dates for this year’s seminars are being finalised and women interested in attending should contact the CFI representatives below.

For more information:

CFI NSW, Edwina Dreverman, 02 6752 5888,
CFI SE Qld, Mike Burgis, 07 4638 5356,
CFI Central Qld, Andrew Farquharson, 07 4983 2098,

Region North