TWO pioneering rice-growing families from Griffith in the Riverina have been recognised for their long service and dedication to the Australian rice industry.
SunRice chairman Laurie Arthur made a special presentation at the company’s 2019 Annual General Meeting to Ron and Judy Hemley for their 72 years of continual growing and delivery of rice, and to Marj Evans, and in memory of her late husband Ivor, for their 68 years of continual growing and delivery of rice.
“While several growers have grown rice for many years, what sets these two families apart is that they have not missed a year for 72 and 68 years respectively, even when drought threatened to decimate the industry in C08 and just 19,000 tonnes of rice was produced. This is a feat that is unlikely to be repeated,” Mr Arthur said.
The Hemley’s grew their first crop in 1947 and they have not missed a delivery since. They share-farm with Serg Panazzolo and their legacy is in good hands with their grandson Brett Turner recently winning the highest yield award at the Rice Industry Awards.
“Farming has been our life and we have enjoyed every minute of it. The rice industry has always been good to us and we have tried to support the industry when times have been tough. Farming as with nature is cyclical. We have seen good and challenging times but sticking to what you know and a system that works has done well for us,” Mrs Hemley said.
Marj and Ivor Evans made their first delivery in 1952 and have also not missed a year since.
Mrs Evans, who sharefarms with Dick Thompson, was surprised and equally delighted her family’s support of the industry has been acknowledged in this way, reminiscing about life in the early days of growing rice post World War II.
“I have wonderful memories of the close-knit community around the area. Many rice growers were returned soldiers and all had a pioneering spirit and just got on with what needed to be done. Rice has always been a wonderful industry to be involved in and those who established it should be proud of the legacy they have left,” she said.
“The value adding that the rice industry does and what that means to the community is marvellous – what other agricultural industry achieves that? Our research and development is second to none and the new varieties we have are great. I would love for the wider community to know just how good we are, particularly with water efficiency. We have such a great story to tell and we need to be louder in telling it.”
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