Building an industry from scratch - Sher Wagyu

Nick and Vicki Sher are one of the first Australian Wagyu producers, beginning their breeding program in Victoria in 1991.

The Shers have spent countless hours developing their Wagyu brand, which is now marketed into 14 countries. All while raising three children on their home farm at Ballan, dealing with drought, currency fluctuations, market access issues and other challenges.

That determination has seen Sher Wagyu progress to own three farms and employ 10 full-time staff. It’s also brought countless industry awards and, for Nick and Vicki, recognition of their influential role in founding what’s now a vibrant Australian industry.

Daring to think big - Beta Spuds

In 1993, second-generation market gardener Carlo Cocciolone and his business partner, the late Michael Starkie, set themselves an ambitious goal: to introduce greater variety and more efficient processing methods to Western Australia’s potato industry.

Today, after adding more shareholders and investments in agriculture, Beta Spuds employs over 50 staff at its Mandogalup factory and is WA’s largest harvester and processor of the humble spud. It produces close to 50 percent of the state’s potatoes and supplying all its major supermarket chains

Stepping out of the comfort zone - Majestic Mushrooms

By their early thirties, Ian and Helen Chu were immigrant success stories: he an electronic engineer, she a teacher.

They then left their careers to grow mushrooms outside Canberra. “In Asian cultures, abandoning high-status careers to be a farmer is incomprehensible,” Helen laughs. “Relatives couldn’t comprehend it. Nonetheless, they babysat our kids while we pursued our dream.”

From two tonnes of mushrooms per week from three growing rooms in 2007, the Chus’ ambitions have seen them custom build a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled facility capable of producing 20 tonnes weekly.

Maximising opportunity by mixing it up - Sparks Farming

The Sparks family – Ian and Pam and sons Branden and Tyson – has progressively expanded by buying farms in higher rainfall areas. This has allowed them to spread risk and diversify their operation.  

The original property, Oaklea Park, sits in a low-medium rainfall area and produces prime lambs, export hay, wheat, barley and canola.

Munduney, has a similar cropping rotation, in conjunction with a self-replacing Merino flock and Border Leister cross lambs. Ewe lambs are sold as first-cross lambs, while wether (castrated) lambs are sold for the production of rattlesnake antivenom. Wind turbines add to the diversification.

The latest property, Calcannia, is a higher rainfall area ideal for grain and hay production. The three properties spread the risk geographically, which allows the business to manage production highs and lows according to the season.   

Realising the dream of a sustainable business - Mainstream Aquaculture

From a standing start to producing one third of the world’s farmed barramundi in under 20 years: that’s the truly impressive progress made by Melbourne-based Mainstream Aquaculture.

Founded in 2001 by marine biologist Dr Paul Harrison and engineer Matthew Mangan, the goal was to create an environmentally sustainable ‘business for the future’ and world leader within the aquaculture industry.

Today, the company produces almost 40 million fish per year using its state-of-the-art Victorian and Queensland facilities, exporting barramundi to 25 countries.

From struggle to innovation

See how doing things differently can turn adversity into opportunity for rural businesses.

Farming families in Australia

Meet some of Australia’s farming families working the land through good and bad times.

Agri Calendar 2020

NAB salutes the achievements of 13 extraordinary rural business owners.

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