The newsletter report will be added later...
Sandy Leatham, who successfully ran Benalla’s Hook and Spoon butcher shop for about eight years, closed her business near the end of 2015 when she found out Prime Safe was introducing new handling guidelines for dry-aged beef.
She told the March Stock and Land U3A group that was the final straw. “I’d found them [the statutory authority designed to regulate the safety of meat, poultry and seafood across Victoria] very difficult to deal with and when I heard about the new guidelines I decided to close the shop.
“Prime Safe allowed restaurants to dry age but not me and introduced new guidelines without consultation”. The hanging process tenderises and intensifies the flavour; “the meat is more juicy and the flavour is stronger."
Sandy said some regulations were necessary but not the often extreme “Mafia like” measures resorted to by Prime Safe. At one time it was clear two large suited heavies were sent from Prime Safe to intimidate her. “A customer was so alarmed she stood between them and me,” Sandy said.
The beginning of her interest in direct selling farm produce, started in the late 1960s from a farm at Kingston, south of Hobart where she ran about 30 dairy cows. She packaged milk from the herd into half pint bottles which she delivered around Hobart.
Another business and four babies intervened until Sandy and her husband acquired a beautiful but quite rough 250ha farm at Warrenbayne. They bred Devon, Santa Gertrudis and Angus in a three way cross which produced small calves with hybrid vigour. The Leathams killed cattle at about 20 months yielding beef with desirable three to five scores for marbling.
“My interest was in producing healthy grass fed cattle and sheep, without resorting to supplemental grain, because grain alters the otherwise beneficial omega three fatty acids in meat,” she said.
Sandy and her husband initially had two cattle and six sheep killed each week. But the sheep dropped by the wayside because the Leathams reckoned to produce the best possible mutton, they would have had to irrigate.
For the first seven or so years of Hook and Spoon, Prime Safe assured Sandy that if she abided by local government regulations for meat preparation and sale their products would meet all health requirements.
“But then Prime Safe said it had to regulate Hook and Spoon, despite most of our meat being cooked.
Than started a raft of nonsensical requirements like checking the temperature of hams halfway.
Our guest speakers for April – Libby Price and Lach Lidgerwood; followed in early May by a visit to a local sheep property.
'From paddock to plate' entrepreneur Sandy Leatham pictured here with
Stock and Land convenors Kathy Murphy and David Palmer.
In the second half of our March session we weren't able to stream the Catalyst program - 'Farmer Needs a Robot' as the WIFI was very slow. We will download it on to a USB for use later, however it is still available on iview - check out http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/catalyst/SC1602H014S00 It is likely to be transferred to the Catalyst program page when its time on iview ceases.
Here are links to related videos from You Tube - we saw the first, but not the second.
Above: "The University of Sydney's Australian Centre for Field Robotics are pioneers when it comes to robotic farming. Having developed a series of driverless tractors, they give us a sneak peek of how future farms and orchards will operate in the era of mass automation".
Above: Robot farming machines are already doing the dirty work in more fields than people may realize.
Here are the links for the handouts David chose for today:
Top 10 Robotic Applications in the Agricultural Industry
Robot Controlled Harvesters Gather their First Crop
While livestock auctions are no longer regular fixtures of Benalla business life, up until the 1970s, agents yarded up to 20,000 cattle, 15,000 sheep, 7000 pigs and 1200 calves a year in the city’s yards, former stock and station agent Ray O’Shannessy told the inaugural Stock and Land U3A session on February 6.
In fact in the late 1950s, five times as many sheep, half as many pigs but only about one third the number of cattle were yarded on a yearly basis. New cattle saleyards were built in 1990 and regular sheep sales finished in the mid 1990s.
Benalla livestock sales started in 1860 at the corner of Bridge and Carrier Streets and in September 1888, 60,000 sheep were advertised for a quarterly sale. Ray, who worked for 16 years with Victorian Producers before becoming an accountant, said there were about 90 stock and station agents operating in Benalla over a century and a half; in his time, from 1950 to 1966, there were about nine. In 1942, the mid-point in the Benalla yard’s history, bullocks sold for about $60, wethers for $6 and lambs for $5. But that just indicates a point in time; prices leaped up and down before and after that.
A lively discussion followed on the reasons why sale yards such as the Benalla saleyards are gradually disappearing, although David noted that a new regional saleyard in his childhood town of Mortlake is set to invigorate the town.
At our next session on Tuesday March 6 at 10 am from paddock to plate entrepreneur Sandy Latham will explore the challenges faced in running the unique Benalla business ‘Hook and Spoon’.
From 'paddock to plate' entrepreneur Sandy Latham will explore the challenges faced in running the unique Benalla business 'Hook and Spoon' at our next session on Tuesday February 6. See you at 10 am!
'Stock and Land' is an interesting new course being offered to U3A members which should appeal to many Benalla residents.
Called 'Stock and Land', it links people to a wide variety of subjects to do with living and working on the land and the associated components of farming.
The course offers speakers talking on a wide variety of subjects concerning many aspects of living on the land. A discussion will then follow.
Members will be encouraged to share their stories and course ideas. For many it will be an opportunity to recall growing up on a farm. This course has endless possibilities!
'Are you a regular watcher of ‘Country Wide’ or reader of ‘Stock and Land’ or ‘The Weekly Times’? Did you grow up on, run, still run, or downshift into Benalla from a farm? Perhaps you studied/taught food and agriculture related courses or worked in an area related to agriculture? Or perhaps, like most of us, you are interested in where food comes from.
'Stock and Land'* aims to provide a regular forum for members with interest and experience in agriculture to discuss agricultural issues and current developments in farming. Monthly two-hour sessions will feature well informed speakers from particular areas of farming who will share their story, their understanding of current issues and developments in their field of farming. This will be followed by questions and discussion.
The group will also discuss current news and events iin farming and share stories of ‘our farms’
David Palmer is the convenor of this new course supported by Kathy Murphy. A former journalist with the Stock and Land newspaper, David grew up on farms and continues to write articles for agriculture related media while Kathy works with other members of her family on their cattle property at Winton.
*'Stock and Land' is being used as the title for this new group until the group is ready to decide on a more fitting name. 'Stock and Land' clearly captures the context of the course to begin the year, however doesn't fully reflect the range of what might be covered. So prospective participants, get your thinking hats on!
About 'Stock and Land'
Are you a regular watcher of ‘Country Wide’ or reader of ‘Stock and Land’ or ‘The Weekly Times’? Did you grow up on, run, still run, or downshift into Benalla from a farm? Perhaps you studied/taught food and agriculture related courses or worked in an area related to agriculture? Or perhaps, like most of us, you are interested in where food comes from.
1st Tuesday of the month from 10 am to 12 midday.
Convenor/s Contact Details
David Palmer 5762 4468
Kathy Murphy 5766 4223