Slight ramblings…

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Is it worth it?

August 1st, 2012 · 1 Comment

There has been ongoing discussion online recently about the value of joining a State Farming Organisation (SFO) Before I go any further in this post I want to make one thing very clear: I dont want to start anymore Farmer “Representative Organisations” We have more than enough!

What we need to look at now are current SFO’s and what they offer in membership terms.

Now the reason that im even thinking about joining an SFO?

  • Im looking to start out in Livestock
  • Im starting from nothing,
  • I have no real Farming experience or background
  • Oh and I’m young (yep one of those ones…!)

So I feel as thought I should join a SFO. So which one? Live in Canberra and there isnt a SFO here. Even the NFF disregards Canberra (As seen in its public engagement forums for the Ag Blueprint) and lumps it in with NSW.

So knowing this, what can NSW Farmers (The NSW State Farming Organisation) offer someone like me? The main member services that their Website list: Industrial Relations, Education & Training, Member Representation, Regional Services Managers (They also offer “Online Shopping” but while they offer this as a service, you need to be a member to access, so I have disregarded it). So out of those services, what do I need and what will I use?Well the Education & Training would be very useful except when I look on the website the only course offered* was Chemical Accreditation and while it is a great thing to have it is an online course which I am sure NSW Farmers are not the only ones to offer this so I could do it with out being a member so I dont think it’s really a member benefit.

Another service they offer to members is something called Regional Services Managers but the website doesnt give me any idea about what these Managers actually do or even examples of the services they offer to members. The only positive that I can think of is speaking to someone face to face rather than on the phone but it isn’t really much of an incentive to join. Further to that, the Regional Services Managers page lists newsletters which are very out of date*, most are 6 months old and one is 12 months old! Hardly news and they dont even give a timeframe on when the newsletters will be released so you can be kept up to date, though I will say that the only newsletter that is in date is the Western Region by Emily Colless which is a good effort! Coming back to me, the maps on the page is so small it is unreadable (and not even clickable to enlarge picture) but I am guessing that Canberra would fall in to the Southern Region? That region doesnt even have a regional newsletter! So no real gain on that one either.

Something else that membership to NSW Farmers provides is Industrial Relations advice, which could actually be quite useful as they provide advice over the phone/email on various subjects like Occupational Health and Safety & All employment legislation. This would be of some use to me but starting out like I am, there are a lot of things included that I could not use yet.

The last service is Member Representation, this is where NSW Farmers creates policy and lobbies Government on its members behalf. The representation section of the site is split in to each of its committees, some of them with a lot more info than others and all committees newsletters (if they have them) being at least one year old*. Lets take the Cattle Committee as that is the one that interests me the most and in looking through the last years “Policy Statement Book” there is only one policy for Cattle, that being Point of Sale Identification for imported beef. while not wanting to downgrade the importance of that one issue, is that really all the policies they have for Cattle?

The Cattle Committee also has a list of “Priority Issues” which contains 7 key priorities which is good but doesnt give an update on how the committee is tackling those priorities nor does it provide any outcomes or results of previous priorities.

The Cattle Committee page is very out of date and also doesnt explain how the committee was formed, the background of the people on the committee or most importantly how to get on or involved with the committee itself* and im puzzled as to why? Dont they want to be engaged with their members?

This is not a very good example of membership dollars at work and looking over the committee pages, it actually turns me off joining NSW Farmers for their Policy development & government Lobbying, mainly because they havent made it clear what they actually do in this area.

Now this is not a positive post about NSW Farmers, far from it but I do want to end by saying that out of all the SFO’s NSW Farmers seemed to be the best to join in terms of membership services. Most other websites were unclear about the services provided to members and some didnt list any member services etc on their website, they simply expected people to sign up! At least NSW Farmers put it in clear terms of what you actually get.

People should also be reminded the path to get on a committee/board is not clear at all & making your “voice” heard isn’t as easy as just joining a SFO. All SFO’s claim to have your best interest at heart and that you should join them to make the collective “voice” of Farmers heard louder. If the process was a lot more transparent then maybe they would gain more members keen on changing things, right now the biggest thing I have heard why farmers aren’t joining SFO’s is that “it’s the same old crowd who don’t want to change things”

At the current time NONE of the State Farming Organisation’s around Australia deserve my money or membership because they simply dont offer enough back for what I put in. So im going to look around for networks to join and work on building my own network of trusted people that I can turn to for advice.

What do you do? Are you a member of a State Farming Organisation? What made you become a member? And if you arent why is that? Id love to hear what you have to say in the comments, I might be so far off the track it’s not funny, so tell me!

*At the time of typing (1 August)

Tags: Agriculture · Getting in

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Matilda // Aug 2, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Hi Sam,

    I am the Marketing Manager here at NSW Farmers Association. We would be keen to discuss with you some of the issues you have raised.
    Could you please send me your contact details:
    Look forward to speaking with you.

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