Kevin and Marie Ford were recently honoured for their volunteer help in establishing Feed Central. Kevin, a retired groundsman from Toowoomba and wife Marie have worked tirelessly helping their son Tim establish Feed Central, a hay marketing business.

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The new centre was opened by Queensland Agriculture Minister Dr John McVeigh and Cr Geoff McDonald from Toowoomba Regional Council and is the only place in Australia where growers can get visual assessment and grading of their hay and grain, plus feed testing services within a 24-hour turnaround. The Fords live in Toowoomba, and they started helping their son because of dad Kevin’s intimate knowledge of farming and hay making. Kevin recalls “I always had that interest in hay and when Tim started Feed Central we channelled that interest into helping him get established. The on-site inspection of hay was a big part of the business in those early days. We did a lot of travelling. We’d travel almost from Rockhampton to Adelaide inspecting hay.”

Feed Central started in an internet café in Margaret Street, Toowoomba before moving to the Ford’s family home and eventually substantial headquarters on the outskirts of Toowoomba.

Tim Ford, Feed Central Managing Director, said it was important that all staff and his children know the history of the company and are reminded of the family sacrifice that comes with establishing and running a business.

“Mum and Dad are both great `people people’ and Dad has an intimate knowledge of all the major agricultural regions from one end of the country to the other; the climactic variations between the north and south, the seasonal differences and the timing of harvests. I’ve inherited a lot of that, plus a love of the bush, love of the land, rural people and agriculture.”

Feed Central now operates across Australia and has 20 staff and 20 contractors. It markets more than 100,000 tonnes of quality assured hay each year, with offices and replica Feed Testing services in Toowoomba in Queensland and Shepparton in Victoria.

Words by Toni Johnson-Woods