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Fleur has been working on farms all her life. But she doesn't receive a salary.

“I don’t get paid for the stuff I do on the farm now, that’s part of my role as a farmer’s wife.”

Fleur Anderson has been working on farms for as long as she can remember. Growing up on her family’s farm in the 1980s, she instinctively knew that everyone would just “chip in and do their bit”.

Her work on the farm earned her a bit of pocket money and when she left school, Fleur went straight into working in the local agricultural industry.

Now 37 and married, Fleur works on her husband’s family cotton farm. She doesn’t get paid a salary.

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“Now as a farmer’s wife and being part of a family farm, that pay has just dropped away,” she tells The Quicky’s Claire Murphy.

“My husband certainly has a lot more responsibility and it’s his baby. He’s out there every day doing everything involved from book work to paddock work to dealing with staff.

“My job is probably really a support role for him. I do have work off farm to balance the family income. I try to make that work as flexible as possible so I can do it from the farm and be available to support and help where I need to.

“That help could be anything from cooking dinner for the crew after picking, right through to starting the irrigation siphons in the morning and a bit of tractor work.”

Despite the tough times on the land, Fleur says farming is in her blood.

“I have a love of agriculture. It’s been my career from day dot,” she explains.

“I’m incredibly grateful that I’m giving my children the opportunity to grow up on a farm. That’s something that’s become really important to me.”

 

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When it comes to her own family farm, Fleur explained there is an understanding that her brother will inherit it one day.

“My sister lives in Brisbane and I’m here on my husband’s farm,” she said. “We’re certainly all involved in how that would look but we also have an understanding that my brother has chosen to make his career and his living and his life on that family farm.”

“If I was at home living and working on the farm alongside my brother for the last 10 or 15 years, it would be a different story.”

Fleur’s work, like the work of many women on farms across Australia, is largely unseen. She’s part of a group of women that Professor Joy Demousi calls the “invisible farmers”.

Professor Demousi has started the The Invisible Farmer Project to write female farmers back into Australian farming history.

“Women have been involved in farming since the beginning of Australian history,” she told The Quicky.

“So often their work has been considered or seen as invisible to the farm economy, but in fact women’s labour at many levels has really contributed to the running of the rural sector,” she explained. “It is an absolute myth to say women haven’t been there or haven’t played that role.”

 

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During her research for the project, Professor Demousi spoke to female farmers from all walks of life, all over Australia, including women in the dairy industry, egg farmers, and even a trout farmer.

For Fleur, she just hopes both her 10-year-old daughter and her six-year-old son see a future for themselves on the farm.

“I’d love to see them both at home on the farm working together as a team.”

You can read more about the The Invisible Farmer Project here.

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