With such a long history in horticulture, he was an outstanding candidate for the inaugural Rural Community Leader of the Year, which he won as part of the Kondinin Group-ABC Rural Australian Farmer of the Year Awards. Badcock also won the Kondinin Group Award for Excellence in Diversification.
A current board member of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Badcock operates a 350 hectare intensively cropped operation, with cauliflowers, cabbages, carrots, onions, peas, grains and poppies for fresh and processing industries.
At 68, Badcock is a legend of the horticultural industry in Tasmania, and indeed Australia, with his innovation, leadership and energy hallmarks of a highly respected figure.
Badcock believes that agriculture is an ever-changing environment, and his favourite saying is if you are not changing, you’re going backwards.
As president of leading industry body AUSVEG, he steered the organisation from having a part-time CEO to turning over $3.5 million per annum, and he was critical in developing a vegetable incursion management plan and an emergency response in case of a disease outbreak.
He also played a massive hand in the restructure of the TFGA and AUSVEG, and has held a number of high profile roles in the industry.
His heavy influence in the industry has been highlighted by no less than Tasmanian Agriculture Minister Jeremy Rockliff, who has known Badcock for about 25 years.
“Michael has been a very consistent advocate, in terms of talking about the plight of farmers and making sure they’re rewarded for their efforts,” Rockliff said.
“He’s been a very good campaigner for the industry.
“He says it how it is, from his point of view.”
One of the key areas Rockliff thinks Badcock has made an impact is in raising awareness of Australian branding.
Badcock’s strong campaign for better brand awareness dates back to 2006, when he was advocating for ‘buy local’ campaigns, not just in Tasmania but Australia-wide. Rockliff connected Michael’s work a decade ago to the Federal Government’s recent decision to clarify country of origin labelling.
“You can probably argue that Michael and others were involved in achieving that eventually – almost a decade later,” he said.
Badcock’s innovation is never far away from his own operation, as he experiments with new crops and new markets in a bid to adapt when drought, floods and lower commodity prices impact the industry.
He joined Minister Rockliff on a delegation to Japan, where they looked into new crops as a way of taking control of their own destinies and reducing reliance on what processors were focused on.
Rockliff said winning this award highlighted Badcock as a great role model for the next generation of farmers.
“For him to be recognised with such an award, people will first acknowledge that he deserves it... but also he’d be a very good role model for younger farmers that are always needed to come up through the ranks and fill that very important space of advocacy.”