Chair Column – August 2021

Stephen Lowe, ABGC Chair 

Hard times, but industry will bounce back

There is a poignant quote by Canadian author and organic farmer Brett Brian, it is: “Farming is a profession of hope”. 

I, like most others, can relate to this quote, as it sums up farming in six simple words. Whether it’s good times or bad, farming is always about hope. In the best of times, we hope our run of good fortune continues. In the not so good times, we lay awake at night, hoping for a miracle to turn our despair around. 

At a time when our industry continues to grapple with nationwide worker shortages, the impacts of natural disasters, various compliance issues and consecutive years of low prices, hope has never been more front of mind. It’s no secret morale amongst most growers is low (particularly since COVID) and our resilience is again being tested, in some ways, like it never has been before. But we are growers. And, we will always keep up the good fight. 

After listening to mental health advocate Mary O’Brien present at Congress in Cairns earlier this year, I hope everyone is looking out for one another and checking-in to make sure everyone gets the support they need, even if this is a simple phone call. I don’t usually like to dwell on negatives in this column, but I think with our current stack of challenges in front of us likely to continue it’s necessary to acknowledge these and make sure we unite as an industry to move forward into more prosperous and less challenging times. With that, I’ll end this section with a quote from John F. Kennedy which sums up our reality to a tee and highlights the fundamental challenges we face as an industry every day. 

“The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.” 

TR4 transition 

As mentioned by our CEO Jim Pekin in his Page 4 column, complete transition to an industry-led TR4 program is less than two years away. Developing a framework for this transition is progressing well, thanks to work being undertaken by new Industry Transition Leader Geoff Wilson, the Australian Banana Growers’ Council, government and industry. 

Geoff was appointed by the ABGC to work with growers and the TR4 Program to develop a clear way forward to plan for the future management of the disease. 

All growers are encouraged to have their say on this framework by calling Geoff on 0418 644 068 or email 

To read more about recent activities that have been undertaken to ensure this transition is delivered as smooth as possible, on time and on budget, go to Pages 40 and 41 of this magazine. 


Earlier in this column I mentioned the 2021 Congress, which was one of our biggest and most successful on record and I’d like to thank all those who attended and supported the event, particularly our growers. 

I know it’s difficult to get away from our farms, but Congress does offer a great chance to catch up and relax, while gaining some learnings to take back home from two days of presentations delivered in our plenary program, developed by a dedicated Program Committee. 

Finally, I’d like to make special mention and give thanks to our valued sponsors. Without your support, Congress simply wouldn’t be possible. I hope you also enjoyed our 2021 event and I hope to see you all again in 2023!