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TAS Country : February 23rd 2012
8 Tasmanian Country Friday, February 24, 2012 Sowing seeds ROGER HANSON A NEW agriculture indus- try skills plan is hoping to attract young people into the sector. Parliamentary Sec- retary for Education and Skills Paul O'Halloran said it was a continual struggle attracting young people into agriculture. ''The perception seems to be that agriculture is not exciting and there are more attractive options, but nothing could be furth- er from the truth. Agricul- ture is a dynamic, hi-tech and innovative industry,'' Mr O'Halloran said. ''There are terrific pros- pects all around the world; skilled people are in high demand.'' He said Tasmania was well positioned to be part of the solution to global challenges in a low carbon economy in terms of food, water, climate and en- vironmental security. Tasmania has 12 per cent of the nation's fresh water. ''We are in the right place to meet the chal- lenges of food security. With the potential of the NBN superfast broadband, people can learn from any- where. Distance is not an issue,'' he said. ''E-Learning training can be combined with school development or on- the-job training.'' Skills Tasmania and the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association have teamed up to help ensure there are enough skilled workers to allow Tas- mania's agriculture indus- try to continue to grow. Mr O'Halloran launched the Agriculture Industry Skills Plan this week in Burnie at the home of the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture's dairy and Milking the benefits of local dairy STATE-OF-THE-ART: The cheese processing area. ROGER HANSON LIMITING the distance food has to travel is a driving principle of a southern cheesemaker. Ashley and Jennifer McCoy opened a new factory and store for their Wicked Cheese Company in the hope of being a hub for local produce to reach a broader market. The state-of-the-art outlet, employing eight people, is now on the second busiest tourism route in Tasmania, the Richmond road on the way to the historic town. ''We are really keen to limit the kilometres food product has to travel, so this location is perfect,'' Mr McCoy said. ''The milk we use to make the cheese comes from a dairy farm that is less than 2km away.'' The McCoys are keen to be an outlet for any local producer, especially those, that may be too small or need an outlet to tap into a wider market. The store retails wines from the Coal River Valley, locally-made fudges to conserves and sauces. ''If you want a wine that's not from the Coal Valley, then go somewhere else, because we think the local product is the best,'' Mr McCoy said. He said some local winemakers were too small to retail or establish a tasting room, so this was a win-win situation for everyone. ''We see an opportunity for growth in helping other local producers combining to market their products,'' Mr McCoy said. Wicked Cheese has established a distributor network. Mr McCoy signed off on a nationwide distributor earlier this year, and already has got three other producers into the Melbourne market. ''It is an economy of scale. We will be shipping product in a container to Melbourne or Sydney so for another small producer to link in will keep their costs down,'' he said. The company has grown from a converted house in Moonah to the new factory- retail outlet. Mr McCoy said it would produce about 20 tonnes of cheese this year, which is slightly more than last year, and about 25 per cent from the previous year. ''We have a demand for the cheese both locally and interstate,'' he said. Specialising in making soft cheeses, the company has now extended its range to include a triple cream brie, chilli camembert, mature cheddar and more. Wicked also bottles Richmond Milk, which is available at various southern retail outlets. ''We started to retail the milk because we made the commitment to buy all of the milk from the dairy farm down the road, so it was a natural fit,'' Mr McCoy said. Wicked buys all of its milk from Will and Kelli Blackburn, who are third- generation dairy farmers, and have Tasmania's smallest commercial dairy operation. ''The milk is picked up at 6am, processed immediately either for cheese or into Richmond Milk. Quite often the milk can be in the store that same day,'' Mr McCoy said. ''It is no secret fresh is best.'' The local pigs also benefit -- being fed whey, which is by-product of cheese-making. With the walls plastered with more than 60 medals and awards from cheese competitions, Wicked has made a business decision not to sell to supermarkets, but rather through the outlet store and distributors. ''I want to control the quality of the cheese and determine how long the cheese lasts, and by controlling that supply chain we achieve that,'' Mr McCoy said. There is opportunity for growth, and goats cheese is a market Wicked is looking to get into. ''If we could get a consistent supply of goats' milk, we could make goats' cheese on a regular basis,'' Mr McCoy said. ''I have a News "Eryvac provides insurance against crippled lambs. " Sheep Health. Performance. Growth. www.pfizeranimalhealth.com.au Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd. ABN 50 008 422 348. 38--42 Wharf Road, West Ryde NSW 2114. Registered trademark of Pfizer. PAL0551/TC/R *Erysipelas is one of a number of causes of arthritis in sheep. Vaccinating your ewes pre-lambing with Eryvac can protect your lambs from Er ysipelas* arthritis, which can cause lameness, painful and swollen joints and depression, all of which lead to hefty production losses. For more information talk to your Pfizer Sheep Product Specialist on 1800 814 883. "From a stud management perspective, vaccinating with Eryvac works effectively. For the investment you put in, the vaccination pays for itself. It not only provides insurance and protection against crippled lambs, it increases longevity of our ewes and provides more stock for a higher selection rate." Paul Routley, Almondvale, President of NSW White Suffolk Association and breeder/producer
February 16th 2012
March 8th 2012