Giving back to the industry

It was an opportunity to really connect with where the grassroots of the industry were coming from when issues arose.”Ian Burnett

Ian Burnett’s drive to give back to an industry he had grown up in was the catalyst for his progression into becoming a key industry representative.

Growing up on the family property “Bendemeer”, north of Clermont, Ian (RGS 1968 – 1970) was involved with the Queensland Graingrowers Association and the Cattlemen’s Union. When AgForce was established in 1999 (following the merging of the Queensland Graingrowers Association, Cattlemen’s Union of Australia and the United Graziers’ Association) Ian became more involved with AgForce while living in the Emerald district.

Ian would become AgForce Emerald branch chair before stepping into a regional role in 2006 and was nominated as State Vice President in 2008. In 2013 and 2014 he held the role of AgForce General President before retiring from the position.

“I always had an interest to keep in touch with what was happening within those industries (cattle and cropping) but I also wanted to give back to the industry,’’ Ian said.

“Someone has to step up to play a role with representation.

“I saw it as an opportunity to be more involved at a representative level, it didn’t matter if it was beef or the grain sector, just playing a part at an advocacy level was important to take the issues forward.”

Ian said it certainly gave him a different perspective on the industry being not just a producer, but an industry representative across many facets of the sector.

“It’s crucial that you have some industry experience to give you a good understanding of the issues when you’re in a representative role. You play a part in the direction and decisions that are taken forward,’’ Ian said.

“It was an opportunity to really connect with where the grassroots of the industry were coming from when issues arose.”

Ian has long had a passion for the agriculture sector.

After his RGS boarding days, Ian finished his studies at the then-newly established Emerald Agriculture College in 1971 and 1972.

The Burnett’s are a fourth generation family at RGS. Ian’s father Stephen attended the school and his grandchildren Harland (Year 11) and Mave (Year 9) are currently studying at RGS. Ian’s brother John also attended RGS, and John’s children have also since studied at the School.

In the early days of the Burnett’s “Bendemeer” operation, the family ran the more traditional Poll Herefords before the introduction of the Brahman breed, when the family decided to move into Brafords.

Now based north-east of Emerald at “Wyuna”, Ian runs a mixed enterprise of beef cattle (Braford) and irrigated cropping.

Ian has witnessed many changes in the agriculture sector over the decades.

Among the main changes Ian has noticed include land management and marketing.

Ian said there was now a lot more emphasis on conservation and run-off control combined with managing environmental issues.

He said the marketing of the product had also changed dramatically.

“Now there is so much done electronically and the options of how you market your product has opened up considerably since those early days,’’ Ian said.

“Communication was almost non-existent. We were probably lucky to have a telephone in the early days, but with mobile phones and instant communication things have changed.”

Ian is grateful for the technological changes in the industry and thankful that they have been adapted by the agricultural sector.

“Technology has really improved the industry and the agricultural sector is in good shape and has shone through during the COVID pandemic,’’ Ian said.

“I believe the future looks bright.”

Photograph: Ian pictured far left during his AgForce days.