Nowadays, genetic modification and chemical and pesticide use on our food sources has become widely accepted as the norm.
It is refreshing to meet someone totally committed to the organic production of food. Simone Tully of Lisgar, an 8000 acre property near Yetman, 80 kilometres south east of Goondiwindi, is one such person. She is a pioneer in the organic beef industry in Australia and co-founder of Australian Organic Meat Group (AOM Group), established in 2011 with the O’Leary family from Dubbo. Her interest in the organic industry is two fold, as a producer and as a businesswoman who specialises in the creation of supply chains from the grower to the market. Simone’s journey has been firmly grounded by a childhood on a cattle station near Roma. After finishing school, Simone studied Agricultural Economics and also travelled extensively, including to Colorado in the USA where leaders in the organic movement opened her eyes to new possibilities. On returning home to continue her education, Simone presented a case for the environment versus the economy, discovering that a win/win scenario was in fact possible. Coupled with her realisation about strong global demands and increased consumer appreciation for organic beef, Simone’s organic journey began in earnest.
Marrying Shane Tully in 1993, the newlyweds settled on Bingara Station, a 240,000 acre sheep and cattle property in western Queensland. It was here that Simone and Shane fully committed to their belief in the organic industry by undertaking the herculean task of converting Bingara to a fully certified organic property, which they completed 1998. In 2002, the timing was right for the Tully family to move closer to Brisbane along with their organic herd of 600 head. They continue to grow organic beef on the now rolling green hills of Lisgar.
The Tullys are farmers, but Simone’s desire and commitment to undertake an off-farm business was not only supported at home by the Tully family, it was also recognised in the year 2000 when the then Prime Minister John Howard awarded Simone a $30,000 scholarship to further investigate the Australian organic Supply Chain and to resource customers and markets. Simone describes this time as “the beginning of building a new way of doing business with farmers, encouraging them to be more in control of where their produce goes”.
Simone now works directly with more than 70 organic beef producers from Emerald to central New South Wales, acting as their supply chain manager, and providing these farmers with assured markets in the USA, the Middle East and East Asia. Simone describes one of her current projects as “expanding the organic beef supply, by adding another 100 organic producers” as a challenge she is relishing.
With a strong belief in the health benefits that flow from grass fed cattle, plus a will to safeguard the environment and a determination to benefit Australian farmers, Simone Tully proudly states that, “My belief in the organic sector is well and truly coming true.”
Words Mandie O’Shea Images by Mandie O’Shea