We catch up with local accountant Grahame Sharpe, to find out why his firm is sponsoring AUSTRALIAN YEAR OF THE FARMER
What is your position, and how long have you been with Smith Sharpe & Abbott?
I am one of three partners, and I have been with the firm since it commenced in 2002.
Who is organising the Australian Year of the Farmer, and what is its purpose?
The AYOF is an incorporated charitable body which is run by a board of directors, consultants to the board, of which Smith Sharpe & Abbott are one, and an international public relations firm, PPR international. The original idea was conceived by two of my fellow Councillors of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW, Mr Geoff Bell and Mr Phil Bruem AM. Over lunch one day, the fellows suggested that it would be a great thing to recognise the amazing work done by our Australian Farmers. I was eager right from that lunch to support the idea one hundred percent. That was two and a half years ago, and since then we have all worked tirelessly to bring that idea into reality.
We recognised the need to educate people, particularly our young people, of some really significant facts and the vital role our farmers play in our future. For instance, in 2010 Australian farmers used 7.3% less land then they used in 1950, but they produced 220% more. In fact, Australian wheat and barley production grew by 300% between 1950 and 2010, all from the same or less amount of land. In 1950, one Australian farmer produced enough food for 19 people and now in 2010, one farmer produces enough food for 155 people. The world’s population is currently approximately 7 billion, and it is estimated by 2050 there will be some 9.3 billion people. Therefore, farmers around the world will need to increase their production by a massive 70% over the next 38 years, all from the same or less agricultural land.
Therefore the big question and the message to our people, particularly the young people is, how do our farmers balance feeding the world and achieving sustainable farming practices? Our future is in their hands, and their future is in our hands!
Why did Smith Sharpe & Abbott become a sponsor of the Year of the Farmer?
I came back from that lunch meeting, spoke with my partners and thankfully, they saw my passion for the project; they equally embraced it and the need to spread the word.
Exactly how will your company be involved?
Smith Sharpe & Abbott have provided over the last two and a half years, as a part of our sponsorship, all of the financial, taxation and accountancy advice and services. This includes budgets, monthly accounting and preparation of financial statements, preparation of and lodging of Business Activity Statements, and attendance at Board of Directors meeting and any other matters which our expertise is call upon.
Our extensive networks also allowed us to engage a Sydney based law firm, on the same basis as us, but to provide legal advice. That firm is Judd Commercial Lawyers. We communicate regularly with that firm when multi-disciplinary matters arise.
What percentage of your clientele live and work on the land?
Whatever that number is, it’s not enough! We love working with our farmers; we understand their passion and commitment with the land and its produce! My partners are committed to agriculture as well, and they demonstrate this as they allow me to donate in excess of seven weeks a year on Royal Agricultural Society business. That business is to promote excellence in all forms of agriculture.
How is Glenn McGrath involved?
As many people may know, Glenn is a country boy, having been born and raised on a 1,200 acre sheep and wheat property near Narromine, NSW. He currently runs sheep and cattle on a 13,000 hectare property north west of Bourke that he acquired some 14 years ago.
When we approached Glenn to become an ambassador for the Australian Year of the Farmer, he had no hesitation in accepting the position. It is an honorary position, and we are so proud to have him working with us in getting our message across. He, in many respects, symbolises the skills, the courage and the passion that our Australian farmers have in their commitment to their industry.
I must also say that Her Excellency the Governor General, Ms Quentin Bryce AC, was equally enthusiastic and supportive when we approached her to be our Patron. Her Excellency and Glenn spoke at our official launch with great passion about our cause and the great work our farmers have done and of the massive challenges they face in the future.
Her Excellency planted a lemon tree at the site of Australia’s first farm, which is now a prominent place at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney.
Can you tell us about the ONE COUNTRY Card?
Sure; this is one of our fundraising areas. It is a shopping card that when presented at various shopping outlets, the bearer will receive everyday discounts on food, beer, wine, entertainment, travel and lots more. It also doubles as an entry in the Australian Year of the Farmer Sweep. This sweep will run throughout the year, offering cardholders the chance to win a range of exciting prizes from a prize pool valued at over $250,000.
The money we raise from this card plus the sale of other merchandise items will provide us with the funds to spread the story of the amazing contribution of Australian farmers to our way of life. The card will cost $25, and funds raised will help us to spread the word.
Remember, we must educate people about the growing demand for food and fibre as the world’s population grows and our available agricultural lands remain constant or diminish due to conversion to other uses, or being rendered worthless due to unsustainable agricultural practices and also mining activity.
How can people get involved?
Visiting our website at
www.yearofthefarmer.com.au and following the prompts is the best way, or ring me at Smith Sharpe & Abbott on 6772 0033 and I can help with other contacts.