Before Lisa and I got together, then as a couple and now as a family-run non-profit we’ve been continuous advocating for more regenerative agriculture and living systems. Advocacy can be a emotionally, socially and financially costly exercise. Its often edgy and takes on many fronts. This year we didn’t have as much scope as we have in other years however we were able to contribute in a lower key way.
Over September-November of 2017 the Victoria State Government ‘Planning of sustainable animal industries’ (PSAI) reforms were given my full attention. We reflected on the effects of these reforms on our pastured poultry & pig clients here in Victoria and found that they were likely to not fare well. From our discussions with colleagues at the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) it was clear they weren’t the only ones.
With that I formed a discussion group with some of our clients and associates, completely a comprehensive literature review and on the advice of our friend and client Bruce Burton (Milking Yard Farm) I drafted a submission to respond to the reforms. The biggest piece in this submission was the development of the ‘Standard Animal Nutrient Unit’ or ‘SANU’. This built on the existing ‘Standard Animal Unit’ (SAU) framework used globally as a reference for all livestock — considering nutritional intake as the primary measure. In this case the primary measure I created was manurial output and composition—this being the primary amenity concern with these and other planning reforms/schemes here in Australia and around the world. Most of these reforms and schemes don’t treat all livestock species equally and so we needed to address that scientifically.
The leadership characteristics and quality of people are tested by reforms such as these and I need to single out our friends and colleagues Amanda McLaren (Yapunyah Meadow Grazed Chicken) and Sonia Anthony for theirs. At a critical phase in the PSAI campaign Amanda and Sonia drew together all of the leaders of the regenerative agriculture movement across Victoria to a dinner at Sonia’s ‘Masons of Bendigo’ restaurant where the very able Clare Fountain (Sorted4Life) facilitated a meeting of these 20 or so minds to consolidate what we knew and how we’d work together. These are the kind of moments when you know that with the right people and circumstances quite different people can come together and get really solid things done.