Scholar Profile: Bill Casimaty AM, 1967 Scholar

May 2016

Bill Casimaty took over management of the family farm at Richmond, Tasmania.

Please confirm family history and members including children, grandchildren? I am married to Janet and we have three children and eight grandchildren. One of our sons is based in Sydney, has spent a significant amount of time overseas and completed an MBA at the London School of Business, while the other son completed an agricultural science course in Tasmania. Our daughter has a marketing degree and is now raising her family.

Please outline a brief version of your business history? I completed an agricultural course at Dookie Agriculture College in Central Victoria in 1956 before returning to the family farm in Richmond. This is in a drought area and significantly affected what we could produce. The farm wasn’t sustainable due to rainfall an property size and we weren’t able to be viable with cropping barley and wool alone and it was a farm reliant on subsidy from my father’s city business which was common in those days. So, we started to grow mushrooms as part of the bigger need to diversity. This occurred in about 1960 and that part of the business started to grow.

How did you hear about Nuffield Farming Scholarships? An earlier Scholar Ben McKay (1955 Scholar), lived quite close to my farm and he told me about it and made me aware of the opportunities with Nuffield. I missed out the first time, in 1966, but then applied a second time and was successful to travel in 1967. I was still quite youngish – about 30-31 years old, so age wasn’t an impediment to my applying twice.

Please confirm your topic and why did you choose this topic? I need to find my report to give you the exact details! But mushrooms of course were a big area of interest as we were further developing that business. I also looked at further efficiencies with livestock and cropping. We were producing wool and wheat but it the business needed more emphasis on other crops to be profitable. I also studied turf on my scholarship, although that was in its early stages.

Can you confirm who was on your state and/or national selection panels? In Tasmania, for many years, there was a state policy of interviewing all applicants. Back then, there were about 12 applicants in total and we were all interviewed. I recall Ben McKay MLC was on the Tasmanian selection committee along with Frank Hicks, Tasmanian Director of Agriculture. Just two of us were selected to go to Melbourne for a national interview. On the Victorian panel was Bert Kelly, the Head of BHP Billiton Sir James Balderstone, and George Wilson representing Nuffield.