Think Aussie cattle farming is a male pursuit? Aussie organic cattle farmer Gina Reick proves otherwise..
Here at Good, we like to know where the food on our plate comes from. So when we teamed up with True Aussie Beef & Lamb for a meat masterclass last month, naturally we wanted to know the origins of the produce. Which is how we came across Gina Reick, the owner of an extraordinary one million acre southern Australian outback farm, Bollard’s Lagoon, which raises grass-fed organic cattle for beef sold under the OBE Organic brand name right here in the UAE’s supermarkets and butcheries. She talks us through a day in the life of an outback farmer, and explains why her product goes down so well here in the desert.
Tell us about your day-to-day life on the farm…
My day-to-day is quite routine. I take my three dogs for a walk, which they love, then it’s down to business. I spend about half of my day in the office – there seems to be more paperwork now than ever before and we have the annual organic audit coming up soon so I have to make sure my records are up to date. If there is cattle work to do, I help out. This morning we mustered a smaller paddock and if my husband, Grant, is doing a bore run I’ll go with him. It’s nice to get out and look around. The cattle look good and the grass is abundant at the moment, due to a good season of rain.
What are the key challenges facing farmers like yourself today?
Distance always seems like a bit of a challenge. Our nearest town, Tibooburra, is 160km away and Adelaide is 1,000km, so our roads are unsealed and usually quite corrugated and bulldusty. Another challenge for a lot of people in the bush is the internet. It has improved over the years, but there is room for improvement. It is quite expensive and limited and I have to be careful how much I use, which, with so much business done online, can be a challenge.
How important is the export market to your product?
There is huge demand for OBE Organic beef overseas. In fact, the company is currently bringing on even more beef producers to continue meeting that demand. I think that it’s profitable to export and contributes greatly to the sustainability of the company. It also reduces our dependence on the crowded local market.
Why should your product appeal to customers in the Middle East?
Simply, you are what you eat. With our beef, you are literally getting taste and nutrition from the heart of the Australian outback. From saltbush and cottonbush, to desert blue grass and channel clover, more than 250 native grasses and herbs are on the menu for our cattle to choose their own diet. In addition to what our cattle eat, our beef is clean – no added hormones, no antibiotics, just pure, chemical-free beef, raised only on grass, roaming free in the outback, as Mother Nature intended.
Is there a growing demand for organic meat and, if so, why?
Absolutely! People are becoming more aware of what they’re putting into their bodies. We are becoming more health-conscious and, given the choice, I think we all prefer to eat a more natural product.
What does OBE Organic beef offer over competing products?
OBE Organic was founded by a group of forward-thinking, pastoral families with a wealth of knowledge in the cattle industry, and has a great reputation as a premium beef exporter. When you buy beef from OBE Organic, you’re getting healthy beef with the unique taste of the Australian outback.