Peter & Rhonda Serpell.
As a practical practising farmer, EMS has helped us to improve the way we manage our farm. We run a small beef enterprise, along with intensive horticulture growing raspberries. Our raspberries are sold to Australian manufacturers who process them into ice cream, wine and fine jams that are then exported all around the world.
One of our clients whom exports most of their production was receiving barriers from the European Union, in an effort to slow down their exports into that market.
When they felt that they had managed to get through all the barriers, the market in question then asked if any of their suppliers were growing their fruit under an EMS programme.
Our client had just done a paper audit on our farming practises, and which clean and green systems that we had in place. At the time they knew nothing about EMS or what it meant. Naturally our client was more than happy to be able to provide evidence that some of their suppliers grew their product under the guidance of EMS.
From our own practical point of view EMS has helped us to move forward, and given us focus on what we needed to do to guarantee that our current practises could be verified. We have always worked hard to make sure that whatever we do on our farm has next to no impact on the farm, or those of our neighbours be they next door, or hundreds of kilometres down stream in a large city.
We work on the premise that what is put on our farm stays on our farm. Fertilisers are spread with a buffer to all waterways, which are all fenced and maintained with riparian vegetation. The use of chemicals has been greatly reduced over the years with the introduction some 18 years ago of an integrated pest management programme. Now the use of one insecticide would ruin all that hard work, and as we are the ones who have to handle the concentrate it would need to be something extreme to turn back 18 years of hard work.
EMS gives the customer the guarantee that the product is “green” and the farmer belief that what they are doing is good for the environment, and that they should also be able to hand the farm to the next generation in better condition than when they started. We have been actively working on selling the idea to other farmers in our area.
Peter & Rhonda Serpell.
5280 Kiewa Valley Highway
Running Creek 3691
(One of the 100 farms in the pilot program conducted by a partnership of North Central, North East & Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authorities in Victoria, and funded by the Australian Government through its EMS National Pilot Programs)