Showing Across The Generations
When it comes to contributing to South Australia’s economy, one sector stands out amongst the rest: primary industries and agribusiness.
Even through bushfires, drought and now COVID-19, the sector continues to perform, innovate and provide food, wine and beverages not just to South Australians, but to the world.
In fact, this important sector forms such a backbone to the economy, it generated a whopping $15.2 billion in revenue in 2018-19, supporting about 115,000 jobs.
Winding back the clock to our settlement days, it’s clear our colonialists had a plan for where to grow and produce our food and fibre across South Australia.
In 1837 South Australian agriculture began on the mainland around Adelaide, with expansion into other regions soon following.
Just two years later in 1839 the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of SA was established.
By 1845 a South Australian population of 22,460 had 7,700 hectares of wheat, 45 hectares of vines, 56,000 cattle and 600,000 sheep.
Compare that to 2020, we have 2,200,000 hectares of wheat, 74,500 hectares of vines, 430,000 cattle and 11 million sheep.
The agricultural seeds that were sown in the colonial era sustained South Australia right through the 20th century and continue to do so even today, with many farms held by the same family generations later.
One such generational farming family in Murray Bridge, 75km east of Adelaide, are the Muellers.
Ian Mueller, who is a third generation Illawarra dairy farmer, has been to the Royal Adelaide Show every year since he was a toddler.
Apart from this year – which was cancelled due to COVID-19 – the only years he didn’t participate were during World War 2.
“The show itself it’s a great way to display your animals to the general public in South Australia,” he said.
“We do get a lot of very different comments when people walk through the sheds especially with milking the cows and if a cow is having a calf at the show, but its bringing the country to the city and I think that’s also very important for our industry.
“There is a registered dairy at the show where we milk the cows morning and night and its always been said that from Adelaide Show the milk sales in Adelaide go up a lot more when people really know where the milk comes from and how the farmers get it out of the cows.
“When you go to the show, you think ‘I might be able to win a ribbon or two’ but it’s winning those real big golden ribbons that make it so special and it’s probably the pinnacle of what we try to achieve. They come around very, very rarely.”
“For us 2012 was probably our biggest year, winning supreme champion dairy cow,” he reminisces.
“Our cow was unanimous first choice for all the judges in that ring that day – we couldn’t really get any higher accolade than that.
“That year we also won supreme intermediate champion, so to get the two top milk awards that year is something that was very special.
“When I was nine years old, my father passed away and the year after that, we still showed at the Adelaide Show and the amount of help from other Illawarra exhibitors that helped us that particular year was incredible and something I’ll never forget.
“That is where showing and the family and everything else comes into it. That you’re there to win but you’re also there to help your fellow breeders.”
Ian has two sons, Ryan and Trent, who have also been part of the Show. Trent has a family with two daughters, who are the fifth generation of the Mueller family.
“It’s been in our blood all of these generations and I think it’s because we make it a family event and they all feel part of it and it’s not just for the elite few, we make it that everyone loves it and wants to be involved and part of it,” Ian said.
“I’ve been the one that has had the passion of breeding those cows but we still have to feed those cows and that’s where Trent comes into it as far as where he can really excel on the farm.
“Trent is more than happy to help at the show with the cows but when we’re back on the farm, we complement each other very well, and when we need help in the areas that we’re very passionate about we can swap and change very easily.
“That to me, makes a really strong family unit.”
Trent Mueller has been to the show nearly every year of his life helping the family exhibit the family’s Illawarra cattle.
“I’ve got two daughters now that come to the show as well and watching them interact with the cattle and going up and patting the cows,” he said.
“Then as they get a bit bigger they start leading the cows, it’s quite special to watch them grow up and continue on what the family has been doing for years.”
Looking ahead to 2021, Ian is ready to get his cows primed for the 2021 Royal Adelaide Show.
“For 2021, I’ve now got my show team picked now and will try and get those cows to calve for their perfect form for that show, and then start building from there.”
AG SHOWCASE QUIZ
Answer the following quiz question for your chance to win a family pass to the 2021 Show!