Get To Know: Janet Barker, Regional Manager – Darling Downs
What does your role involve?
Getting to know the Darling Downs cotton growers and understanding their industry, issues, concerns and opportunities. Being the contact point between growers and all associated with the industry on the Darling Downs and Cotton Australia. Promoting the cotton industry to the wider community. Also promoting the myBMP program and assisting growers to become certified.
How and why did you become involved in the Australian cotton industry?
My initial involvement began in the late ‘90’s as a cotton chipper, crop scout, module builder and heliothis egg collector during my university days. The cotton industry’s seasonal jobs put me through university. I have only recently re-entered the cotton industry in this role. I have worked in natural resource management with a range of agricultural industries in the past 20 years and have been impressed by the Australian cotton industry and its commitment to doing things more sustainably. I have always been keen to work with the myBMP program and this job gives me that opportunity.
Why is the cotton industry important to Australia, and your local community?
We all love cotton, wearing it, sleeping on it etc., and it is an important fibre globally. Australia leads the way in sustainable cotton production. It has long been a staple agricultural industry on the Darling Downs and provides farming families the opportunity to be multi-generational and creates careers and employment stability in regional communities. Cotton is well suited to the soils and climate on the Darling Downs, and with the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement means it is an industry that is here to stay.
What are you most proud of regarding the Australia cotton industry?
The Australian cotton industry’s commitment to improving sustainability and the quality of the end product. Also, the passion that cotton growers have is notable. I often hear the comment that the cotton industry is well supported all the way through from variety and seed development, to the agronomics of growing the crop, through to the processing and marketing of the end product. These attributes all create an industry with long-term viability.
What are your future hopes for the Australian cotton industry?
To be able to continue to grow a quality product with minimal inputs. Research and innovation remain at the forefront to ensure efficiencies are maximised. That the Australian cotton industry can continue to provide security for farmers and jobs and careers in regional Australia for many years to come.
If you weren’t working in cotton, what job would you be doing?
I think I’d like to be a landscape architect or a native flower grower. I do love anything to do with growing plants, particularly Australian natives.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Gardening, reading, spending time with my kids, catching up with friends, camping and bushwalking.
What is your ideal holiday destination and why?
I like the beach and the snow. Generally, a good holiday needs to have a combination of outdoor activity (often water-based), good food, coffee and wine, a comfortable bed and minimal housework, with a bit of culture thrown in (museum, art etc.).
What is your favourite movie/book?
This is hard to narrow down. Books by Tim Winton, plus To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Favourite movie is probably Love Actually.
What three famous people would you invite to a dinner party, and why?
William McInness – he’s funny, witty, a wordsmith, and very entertaining.
Mother Teresa – her perspective on the world always amazed me and I could learn a lot.
Maggie Beer - so she could cook, and she’s an Australian icon.