22 April, 2015
The achievement’s over the past 12 months relate to the following and probably in this order:
1. A major assessment of the possibility of creating an Institute to represent a professional association of ecological agriculturalists. The survey was conducted by Susan Hill and involved 75 EAAA members and survey respondents. In March Sue presented a substantial report to the Steering Committee of Julie Weatherhead, Dr Mary Cole, Kerry Cochrane and Susan Hill. The Steering Committee agreed with the majority view of the survey that an Institute should be further explored by a Working Party whose membership has not been finalised but all four on the Steering Committee have agreed to continue their involvement. It is intended to finalise the membership of the Working Party tonight. On behalf of the EAAA I would like to record our thanks for the enormous effort Sue put into the report which I am sure has been instrumental in guiding us to think positively about the formation of this entity.
2. The media:
a. The newsletter continues to ‘fly the flag’ for the organisation. Seven newsletters have been published and feedback indicates they were well received. There is a need for greater assistance with the compilation of the newsletter. If you are interested please let me know.
b. The social media is run by Sue Hill and this involves EAAA Facebook Page, Follow EAAA on Twitter and the upkeep of the website. Over 1800 have registered with EAAA Facebook Page and Follow EAAA on Twitter which is a phenomenal outcome. Thanks again must go to Sue who puts an enormous effort into keeping it alive and interesting.
c. The Australia We Love Alliance interviewed 5 people in 2014 who filled the requirement of making an impact of nature and society in Australia. As President of the EAAA I was selected as one of the five and a 3 minute video was made which was circulated via various agencies such as the WWF. That video remains on Everyday Australians looking after the places they love – Kerry Cochrane.
d. In February 2015 I was interviewed by Outback magazine regarding an article on regenerative agriculture which will be published in the June edition.
a. A letter was sent to the Vice-chancellor of CSU regarding the University farm at Orange and the failure of CSU to use it for education as specified in the previous owner’s bequest in 1973. The letter proposed that the farm be developed as a centre for ecological agriculture and be used to service the needs of students studying for the Bachelor of Ecological Agricultural Systems course. The letter failed to get a response so a second letter of a critical nature was sent some 3 months later regarding the failure of CSU to at least acknowledge the first letter. That letter which was sent 4 weeks ago still hasn’t been acknowledged. The next letter will be sent to the Chairperson of the CSU council.
b. The EAAA has responded to various online surveys or protest votes regarding Monsanto, GM or coal seam gas. We see this as adding weight to activities that harm the environment.
4. Grant applications
In conjunction with the Australian Carbon Cooperative and Rahamim Ecological Centre in Bathurst several grant applications have been made. These were not successful.
The EAAA student membership increased by 14 this year comprising students commencing studies in ecological agriculture at CSU Orange. On Thursday of last week the EAAA sponsored a dinner for 9 of these student who were attending their first residential school at Orange. The dinner was at my place and all in all it was a great success and a wonderful way for new students to be introduced to a new course and the community that is growing around ecological agriculture.
The EAAA has had some involvement in the development of the Bachelor of Agroecology degree at Thurgoona TAFE. Whilst the TAFE still hasn’t signed off on the proposal it is anticipated that they will do so and that the course will commence in 2016. If this is the case the number of students studying ecological agriculture/agroecology will increase significantly.
The EAAA is the beginning of a new phase and a phase that will take some energy to achieve. The proposed institute will take some energetic minds to make it happen. If it is created it will be a big plus for the ecological movement in this country.
There is a need to put energy into the Farmer Endorsement Program. This really is a central part of the heart beat of this movement and for that reason it is important that it happens. We have the model now we need to make it happen.
Also critical is the creation of a consultancy arm within the EAAA or the proposed institute. We need to be able to provide guidance to farmers on how to do it.
Another initiative needs attention is an application for tax deductibility status. I would like to create a committee around that tonight. It is a committee with a definite IN/OUT time line so please lend a hand if you possibly can. If we start now we could have it awarded within two years!
Important, though, above all, is an EAAA board that has time and energy to create positive outcomes. We have made good strides over the past 5 years but now is the time to get the wheels turning to create a bigger and better organisation for the next 5 years.
Finally, I would like to thank the work of the current Board comprising Meg Hoskin, Ian Reed, Sue Hill, Johannes Bauer and David Savill. Many thanks for your engagement over the past 12 months.
I move from the Chair that the President’s report be adopted.
Kerry Cochrane | EAAA President