Courier Mail, The (Brisbane), 17/01/2001, pg. 5

WHEN Queensland Rhodes Scholar Tanya Plant comes home for holidays from Oxford she spends her time mustering and branding cattle at the family beef and grain property Samarai, 30km north of Oakey.

Her love for the bush and raising cattle have led her to leave them for a time to help improve the outlook for Australia’s struggling rural sector.

“When I have to leave home, the first tears I shed are when I have to hop off my horse Chimera for the last time,” she said.

Ms Plant, 25, is believed to be the only Australian Rhodes Scholar completely educated in the bush.

She attended Kulpi State School on the Darling Downs, Oakey State High School and the University of Queensland’s Gatton campus, graduating in 1996 with first class honours in rural technology, majoring in animal production.

“I have always loved life on the land and it dawned on me when I was in my teens that I would need a good education to be able to do things better than the generations before me, just to survive,” she said.

“I set out wanting to find out if there is a future for the family farm.

“That led to my research into the World Trade Organisation and the role of the United States in forming trade policy because US policy has such a big impact on the Australian beef industry.

“Australia and the US both produce 20 percent of the world’s beef exports but that’s half our total production and only 8 percent of US production.”

Ms Plant said she hoped her research would help farmers better target emerging markets.

“This influences what breeds of cattle they run, whether they breed cattle or buy and sell feeder cattle or, if the market is low, whether they sell all their stock and grow crops instead,” she said.

After completing her doctorate at Oxford next year, Ms Plant plans to return to Australia and hopes to become involved in the formation of agricultural and trade policy to ensure the best outcome for Australia’s rural producers.

“There’s nowhere I’d rather be than home on the farm. My heart is always going to be there whether I work in an Australian capital city or overseas,” she said.

Copyright 2001 / Courier Mail