Rob Grummitt is from Augathella in Queensland and has been farming organic beef for around seven years.
He spoke to us about the process this involves and why he decided to switch to organic methods.
Having been born on the land, Mr Grummitt has spent his whole life on a farm. Originally starting off on a dairy farm, Mr Grummitt and his wife then worked their way into beef cattle, having moved from South West Queensland to the South East of the state.
“Where we lived in South West Queensland was cattle tick country and we had to treat cattle all the time with chemicals,” said Mr Grummitt.
The process for treating cattle for ticks involved a plunge dip, and he said they used to put the animals through a chemical bath.
This meant the livestock, and the foodstuffs they produced, were exposed to chemicals, and he said he just knew “there had to be a better way”.
He and his wife were introduced to the organic industry around seven to eight years ago and it appealed to their chemical-free beliefs, so they went on from there.
Mr Grummitt’s wife has had a lot of allergies to chemicals over the years, he said, so they were able to see first hand what impact some of these chemicals can have on people.
This motivated their decision to pursue organic farming, which is something he feels strongly about.
The process for becoming organic certified takes around three years. During this time farms operate in the “organic world” but they are not yet organically certified, so the products do not get an organic price.
“It was no great drama, we went through it all right,” said Mr Grummitt. “Where we physically live in central west Queensland it was no trouble to do. The three years went by quite simply, no trouble”.
The only times they needed support it was straightforward to receive a bit of help. Arcadian Organic as well as the Australian Certified Organic organisation were able to assist during any difficult patches.
“We were very pleased with the support we had from those folks,” he said.
Arcadian Organic process all of Mr Grummitt’s organic beef production, which is something they pride themselves on with all their hand-selected organic farmers.
In fact, Arcadian treat all their farmers like one of the family and provide ongoing support to farmers.
After the three year period was over and the farm had been certified organic, he said the biggest benefit he had was to be able to support he and his wife’s belief about maintaining a chemical-free farm.
He also added that there were some financial benefits, which “were very nice” but added that the decision to become organic does come at a cost.
“It closes a lot of doors when you are organic because just recently we’ve had the driest year ever recorded in 140 years…In that time you’re very limited in what supplements you can feed your stock in those extreme drought situations to keep them alive and be productive.”
However, they “came out all right”. He puts this down to the way in which a business is managed, and explains that the decision to become chemical-free needs to be at the forefront of any decision making.
Organic farmers need to learn how to manage their cows differently, and that poses no great trouble to farmers such as Rob Grummitt.
“Our cows still look the same and basically still produce the same,” he said.
Arcadian Organic are always seeking new farmer suply partnerships. If you are considering organic beef, lamb or pork production and would like to be part of the Arcadian Organic family, please contact Peter Gall on +61 427 574 941.