A CAMPAIGNER who has been at the forefront of the movement to get Tier 3 rail lines reopened has been awarded life membership to WAFarmers.
Jane Fuchsbichler received the honour at the WAFarmers annual dinner at The Westin Perth hotel recently, in appreciation of her outstanding service to the organisation.
Ms Fuchsbichler was the co-ordinator of the Merredin zone for more than 20 years, during which time the meetings organised often attracted up to 100 members and covered key issues, such as the future of the Australian Wheat Board, live animal export and closure of T3 rail lines.
WAFarmers president Rhys Turton said Ms Fuchsbichler's strength, tenacity and perseverance has seen her develop excellent working relationships with farmers, industry leaders and politicians.
"During her time working with her zone, no job was too big and she showed leadership, professionalism and passion during her involvement," Mr Turton said.
"Jane is known for her willingness to meet important issues head on and her commitment to farmers' causes goes well beyond the call of duty."
Ms Fuchsbichler's campaign to save the railway started with a meeting attended by 600 people in Bruce Rock in 2010.
At that meeting, she highlighted the risks associated with the closure of T3 rail lines, including the substantial increase in the number of heavy grain trucks on inadequate rural roads, road safety and the environmental impact.
Mr Turton said that meeting led to the formation of the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance and brought together shires, farming groups and those opposed to the closure of grain freight rail lines.
"Through the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance, Jane co-ordinated numerous rallies that united rural and urban community groups, along with politicians of all persuasions and put the issues on the front pages of newspapers, radio and television," he said.
"The issue is unresolved and the campaign only slowed up by her absence in the UK caring for her parents in their final years.
"However, she has still been working from the UK on having the lines reopened."
Ms Fuchsbichler was left almost speechless by the honour but said she planned to keep tormenting politicians on the railway issue.
"I have worked hard and I still want to get the railway opened again, that's my big ambition and it is an election year," Ms Fuchsbichler said.
"It's been a tough few years since my mum and dad died and trying to balance things between England and Australia, so I couldn't have done anything I've done without the support of my husband and my two children."
Mr Turton said Ms Fuchsbichler truly epitomised the values and characteristics of a farmer and was more than worthy to be awarded the 2020 life membership.
She was not the only member recognised for her outstanding achievements on the night, with six other awards handed out.
Distinguished Service awards, that recognise significant service to WAFarmers and the advancement of agriculture, were presented to David Slade, Geoff Pearson and Mark Adams.
Long-term member Dudley Wise was awarded the Certificate of Merit for his loyalty, dedication and long service to WAFarmers and to the Albany zone.
The President's Award, which is given to anyone Mr Turton deems deserving, was given to WAFarmers Grains and Livestock Sections executive officer Jessica Wallace.
Mr Turton said Ms Wallace did not originate from Western Australia, nor does she come from farming stock.
"But as a double degree graduate in both communications and animal science, she comes uniquely qualified to provide a unique perspective to our industry," Mr Turton said.
"Having been with WAFarmers for just under two years, Jess has taken the additional workload that has been delivered to her through the departures of other staff members and has excelled at running both Livestock and Grains Section councils, something which no other past EO (executive officer) has been required to do.
"All I can do is say she's done a great job and is well deserving of the recognition that this award provides."
Ms Wallace said at her first interview with WAFarmers she had no idea about the grains industry.
"Since then it's been such a wonderful journey and everyone has been so supportive," Ms Wallace said.
"Being a girl from Victoria, I want to say WA has really adopted me as one of their own and I feel so privileged having not come from a farming background.
"I just want to say thank you, I'm always about the grower and I always will be."
The final award of the night, the AgConnectWA award, was presented to The Sheep Collective managing director Holly Ludeman, with the accolade given out in recognition of meritorious service to the wider agricultural community by a member of WAFarmers who is under the age of 40 (see separate story on page 21).