Warwick Moppett is striving for better engagement and co-existence between agriculture and resources industries in a bid to drive a more positive future for Northern NSW.
From the farm to the work site, Warwick Moppett has always been passionate about the big industries that bring knowledge, new skills and groundwork to rural communities.
Warwick has been on and off the farm since his father purchased ‘Eveleigh’ in 1988 and at 51 years of age his passion for the land hasn’t subsided. He is now in partnership with his brother Peter operating over two farms in the Tooraweenah district of NSW.
When he’s not on the farm with his wife Kylie and two children, Warwick is a land access advisor for an oil and gas producer in Narrabri, NSW. “It’s a great opportunity for me as I’m able to mix it with the farm,” said Warwick.
“Like so many farmers my other skills are not ticketed but I know how to work and so this industry has looked after me and provided my family security during the dry times on the farm.”
“I’m living a great life balanced between the farm and the industry.”
His time with the petroleum industry began in 2009 when Warwick was a full-time farmer. Independent oil and gas producers were exploring and required access to the ‘Everleigh’ farm. Acknowledging that at the time things were tough on the farm, Warwick went ahead with the opportunity and the results were positive.
“In 2012 I was asked to tell my story to other landholders considering exploration; I did,” said Warwick.
Later that year Warwick was offered a job with those same producers and from there grew his passion for creating a positive dialogue for coexistence.
During the drought in particular Warwick was busy, often working on the farm to assist feeding the sheep on weekends to relieve their employees. Day in and day out for 3 years, the only food they had to offer the animals was their grazing bins. “Drought can be soul sapping,” said Warwick.
“However, for 3 days a week I’d return to off farm work and focus on the task at hand, in my case liaising with other great farms doing it hard through my role in Narrabri.”
Proud to have not called on the public purse to assist through the drought, Warwick said it’s one of the positives of successfully integrating two careers. He added, “This is one of my personal goals – to bring the opportunities to local farmers and just reduce the absolute reliance on farm income.”
Working in the petroleum industry Warwick learnt a lot about the environment, health and safety and risk management. And in all of those areas, took back learnings from work and applied them on the farm. “I’ve engaged Health and Safety experts to assist making the farm safer,” he said.
For a long time, agriculture and mining have been the big industries in the North West that have driven the local economy, providing jobs and bringing people to the region. And for a long time, there has been debate on whether these two industries can coexist.
There is no debate that tractors are not growing on trees. There is also no debate that farming has been vital in leading sustainability in primary industries. “The question is not no or yes, but how we can operate to mutually benefit,” said Warwick.
“There is no winner if we try to prove who is the biggest or more important; we need each other.
“It always strikes me as strange when people drive up in a vehicle (any type, they all need a hole in the ground to make them) and complain about mining without acknowledging the reason they are here is that our two industries, farming and mining, do coexist.
“There should always be robust honest dialogue that raises the differences of opinion and we need an umpire that arbitrates the discussion and ensures the important facts are clear.”
So, what’s next for the co-existence of mining and agriculture? Warwick says we need to maintain some simple truths in our education about the coexistence.
“A litre of milk requires grass and water, some steel and energy, a truck and plastic carton, and finally a glass,” said Warwick.
Put simply, both industries continue to improve performance through the development of new technologies and systems. Both industries deliver essential products that all Australian’s need, use and consume. Our miners consume local farmed produce like beef and wheat, and our farmers make use of locally mined products like metals for fencing. Our coal mines also provide off farm employment for farmers, including during times of drought.
The need is to now make both of our industries sustainable by developing systems that effectively manage issues like land and water use. A balanced approach is essential if we want to move forward. “Land use pressure is going to continue to increase as our children subdivide, buy a house or flat and we live longer,” said Warwick.
“Having a system that acknowledges the key stakeholders and listens to all of the issues, to bring facts and science to bare is integral to confidence to live in our community.”
Warwick is a great example of how we can live and work together towards a brighter, more inclusive future. Both industries are essential to our local communities and wider Australian economy. It’s time to accept that effective coexistence is the way forward in order to mutually benefit both industries and the communities surrounding them.