Small-scale farms and food producers play an important role in developing the agricultural sector in Tasmania, says the new chair of Sprout Tasmania, which has been helping Tasmanian start-ups for the past ten years.
Agricultural businessman Justin Birchmore (pictured) is the new chair and is joined by three new faces on the board of Sprout Tasmania including Grazing Tasmania founder Larna Pittiglio, University of Tasmania agribusiness lecturer Don Thomson and Australian Eggs' Tim Russell-Jarvie.
The volunteer organisation has helped many small producers, including grass-fed beef producers Summerlea Farm at Lilydale, and Guide Falls Farm at Ridgely, and provides education, networking and growth opportunities for small producers.
Mr Birchmore said Sprout was well positioned to continue to help and make a difference to the small producer journey. He said the government's 2050 agricultural target was an ambitious but credible target that small producers could contribute to.
"I really believe that innovative and small scale producers can really make a tremendous contribution towards the state's growth and development...embracing new and innovative ideas can only assist in those efforts," Mr Birchmore said.
"It is easier for a $50,000 business idea to turn into a $500,000 idea than it is for a five million dollar company to turn into a $50 million company, and that is where I see the potential coming from," he said.
"Some of those small scale producers need assistance. If they can be given the tools and guidance that they need, they can make a huge difference in achieving their goals, and in doing so, can also contribute greatly to the economy."
Mr Birchmore is managing director of Green Planet Agriculture, a company looking to invest in Tasmanian agriculture, and also founded Academy al Funghi, a small-scale specialty mushroom business.
"I've been involved in different businesses at different stages of development, including a food start-up, which gives me a good insight into the small-scale space. I understand the challenges that small scale producers face."
Sprout general manager Jennifer Robinson said the organisation has made a positive contribution to the small scale farmer and producer sector, and had continued to support throughout Covid-19.
"Tasmania has an opportunity to build a robust, sustainable local food system, that in a post-COVID19 world can make positive impacts on our communities," she said.
"By supporting local, small-scale agricultural businesses to thrive, we are underpinning the very fabric that supports our state and our brand."