Time to find your rural voice

A conference hosted by Toowoomba will examine the future of farming, food production and rural communities.
A conference hosted by Toowoomba will examine the future of farming, food production and rural communities. Claudia Baxter

SOUTHERN Downs farmers are being urged to add their voice to a "short, sharp, insightful" conversation about the future of food production, agriculture and regional communities in Toowoomba this Friday.

The FACETS- food, agriculture, climate, energy, topsoil and sustainability - 2012 forum is one of four being held simultaneously around Australia.

Described as a "conversation worth having" the forum shifts away from traditional presentations, instead inviting some of Queensland's most innovative primary producers and rural consultants to take the stage for 15 minutes each.

Forum organiser Cameron Neil hails from Clifton, but works for NetBalance, the country's largest sustainability advisory service.

He believes corporations and urban communities are becoming increasingly aware of the value of regional communities for things such as food and energy production.

"These conversations are important, because regional communities are important," Mr Neil said. "Our dependency and connection with the land and how we develop that into the future is on the agenda. We need to start looking at how we adequately remunerate farmers for what they produce and their sustainable practices."

He said the initial aim of this week's FACETS forum was to inspire people through positive stories about agriculture and regional communities.

"Secondly it would be great if people could walk away with even one idea they could take into their own workplace that would help improve the future of regional Australia," Mr Neil said.

"Thirdly there is the potential for new ideas, which come from people's connection, conversation and collaboration."

Mr Neil expected significant local interest in speakers such as Terry McCosker, who would offer a pragmatic look at holistic farming and Fiona Waterhouse, who will talk about soil cycles and carbon capture.

But he said hands-on farmers from varying rural sectors would also be speaking.

Free seats are still available for FACETS 2012, which will be held at USQ this Friday.

For details check out the website FACET.org.au.

Topics:  conference, facets, food production, planning, sustainability



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