Sherrill Stivano
Sherrill Stivano Photo source: Facebook

Rural award winner wants single labelling system on food

A FARMER awarded for her vision to improve rural industries in Queensland said the hepatitis A frozen berries health scare showed the need for a single labelling system on Australian-produced food.

Roma mother-of-three Sherrill Stivano received the Queensland Rural Women's Award yesterday for her plans for a single labelling system and for also stopping the divide between the city and the country.

Part of her inspiration has been the Red Tractor initiative in the UK.

All foods under Red Tractor, which are produced and made locally, and abide by certain standards, are stamped with a red tractor symbol on the packaging.

Ms Stivano said UK consumers knew the food met environmental, animal welfare and hygiene requirements and she wanted to introduce a similar system here.

She said Australia had all the standards in place, but "consumers aren't aware of all that goes on behind the scenes to put the food on their table".

"They know we produce food to a high standard but they don't know how," she said.

To take out the award, Ms Stivano overcame three other strong finalists including Kyle Stretton of Charters Towers, Emily Rigby of Mapleton, on the Sunshine Coast, and Elaine Bradley of Dagun, near Gympie.

Ms Stivano lives with her husband and children on a cattle feedlot and hay-growing property.

As part of her vision, Ms Stivano also wants to unite farmers and urban residents.

She plans to hold a "paddock to plate" tour, where farms open up to visitors, among other activities to bring urban residents and farmers together.

"We talk about the urban-rural divide and everything, but I mean that doesn't start in the cities, it starts in your towns," she said.

"People don't have the association with the land like they used to, they don't have the grandparents, the uncles, aunts; they're quite removed from the farming process.

"We're hoping to start to reinvigorate the community."

Along with the Rural Industries Research and Development Corp Rural Women's Award, Ms Stivano also scored $10,000 to help host a stakeholder forum in Roma.

She said the future of Australian agriculture was vital.

"Not because it's going to feed the world but because it's going to feed Australia. Our largest consumers are our domestic consumers," Ms Stivano said.

"We talk about self-efficiency and sustainability as individuals.

"Should we talk about it as a country?"