Emma Germano is a third generation Mirboo North local farmer. As the Managing Director of her family’s mixed vegetable and livestock farm, Emma is also Vice-President of the Victorian Farmers Federation Horticulture Group.
Emma is passionate about farming, advocacy and connecting consumers with Australian Farmers. She is an agricultural scholar who has made a big impact on the industry through her advocacy and Nuttfield scholarship efforts.
Together in their family business “I Love Farm’s” Emma has diversified the property, adding the iconic local farm shop that is recognised in the district, introducing export markets and livestock opportunities.
Emma is committed to sustainability on the farm and wishes to eventually convert to organic certification.
“We are aspiring to be certified, but realistically we know this is going to take some time, with commercial and financial challenges to plan for.” She explains.
“Reducing our input practices puts different weed pressure on our permanent pastures so we have to form plans and have extra finance around this. It can take years to achieve organic certification and there is added expense.”
From working with their own community of customers and wholesalers, Emma feels there is a disconnect between the agricultural industry and consumers.
Emma says as consumers, we need to be able to understand that being more sustainable or environmentally friendly has a price tag and that a particular solution can have a negative impact higher up the food chain.
“With the open dialogue that we have with our consumers for instance, they talk to us about the use of plastic packaging, and yes indeed non-plastic packaging may be more environmentally friendly.”
“Then for us as farmers we are waiting for technology that enables us to wrap food in other ways so that the produce will stay fresher for longer. Currently if we don’t wrap in plastic, it will result on food spoilage and waste,” says Emma, who welcomes the feedback she gets from her consumers and is happy to identify what the issues are that they want answers to.
She also conveys that a big challenge is that in a supermarket, consumers are unable to tell the difference in how a product is grown when it appears on the shelf.
“Two cauliflowers sitting side by side on the shelf may look the same, but one may be produced using more sustainable practices so the consumer cannot make an informed choice in that instance.”
Emma agrees that being Certified Organic is a differentiator , but its not always possible or can take a long time to achieve.
In terms of climate change and environmental debates she feels farmers are not being empowered to leverage their land and their unique set of land management skills.
“Farmers operate on 50% of Australia’s land mass. The Government is missing a huge opportunity when it comes to rewarding farmers for good environmental practices. Currently there are next to no incentives for farmers to move to sustainable farming.”
AgTech is also a passion for Emma. She’s excited to see emerging technology in the form of electronic scanning and tagging devices and says that streamlining data into one cohesive system is currently being investigated in the industry.
Emma says that right now there is a lack of data available in the Agricultural sector, with farmers filling in multiple forms and using an array of programs.
“With new cohesive technology, we can see how much weight an animal puts on and compare livestock from year to year. With vegetables and grains, we could trace a plant from sowing stage, as a seedling, track water usage and have traceability right to the supermarket doors.”
Overall Emma conveyed that it is vital that all farmers, even in our local community, are part of the conversations that we need to have around how food is produced and how we use our land sustainably.
You can find out more about Emma and her family business at www.ilovefarms.com.au.