Monthly Archives March 2019

Data collection in farming has been around for several years – the concept isn’t new with hordes of machinery squirrelling away information from across Australian farms every day. Collecting data is one thing, however, being able to analyse, interpret and act on that data can be a whole other ball game. With the modern-day farmer already requiring a multitude of skills, from engineering, science and finance, through to general labour, agronomy and meteorology – data analysis becomes another ‘to-do’ on top of a growing list.

Traditionally, the analysis of data collected on farm has been through clunky, expensive programs designed for analysts. Often told how ‘powerful’ data can be for their business, farmers have lacked access to affordable and simple technology to process that data.

On April 11, the Future Farmers Network, together with industry partner Case IH, will be hosting a free half-hour webinar titled ‘Breaking Down the Data Barrier’. The aim is to provide the Australian farming industry with information on recent breakthroughs in simplified farm data analysis.

Presented by Case IH’s Andrew Kissel, a specialist in precision farming products, the webinar will look at the type of farming data Australians have been collecting over the past 10 years and the complexities that have prevented many farmers from utilising that data. Importantly, Andrew will address the technology improvements and why the conditions in 2019 are right for those wanting to take that step into analysis.

Andrew will introduce several data analysis programs currently available in the market and provide clear and simple examples of how you can use these programs to pinpoint improvement in your profit margins.

With the cost of production on the rise and current dry conditions, there has never been a more critical time for Australian farmers to be working smarter.

Whether you’ve been collecting data without doing anything with it or are interested in the concept and looking to improve your profit margin – this practical webinar will arm you with the information you need to take the next step.

Webinar: Breaking Down the Data Barrier
Date: 11 April 2019 6pm AEDT
Topics addressed:
• Technology in Australian agriculture
• Current data being collected across Australian farms
• Different farm data analytical tools available
• Examples of how to use this data to make business decisions and improve profit margins

Who should attend:
• Farmers who have been collecting data, but haven’t done anything with it
• Farmers who have been collecting data, but haven’t been using it to its full potential
• Farmers who have not been collecting data but are interested in the concept
• People wanting an update on the industry data analytical tools available
• Farmers wanting assistance with analysing their farm data
Cost: Free

Registration: Click here to register for free & receive the link required to join the webinar.

Contact: admin@futurefarmers.com.au

Special thanks to FFN Partner RuralBiz Training for supplying the webinar technology.

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Tell us about yourself Sarah…

I’m Sarah 🙂  I’m originally from Silicon Valley, CA but now live in Sydney. When not working, I try to spend as much time as possible playing sports or hiking.

Why did you join the FFN Board & what do you love most about the organisation?

  • In my work I’ve met many young people who are keen to push the boundaries in ag and redefine what it means to work in the industry, whether on farm or off. I wanted to connect with these young people, and hopefully help them create meaningful, successful careers and connections
  • Being on the board has been great opportunity to meet passionate, committed people working ag across very different areas. I love the different perspectives and experiences. Its also really fun to travel to different areas and feel like there are often FFN people- members, partners, other directors- to connect with.

Tell us about your career Sarah…how did you get from high-school to where you are today?

I initially studied computer science and worked in the defence industry as a systems engineer and product manager. I loved the complex tech and big projects, and learned a ton about how to build software, manage projects, and ensure that tech actually solves a problem for the end user.

After an accidental gap year (Americans don’t take gap years!) where I lived on several farms in Argentina (including managing a goat dairy), I fell in love with agriculture. And, I saw that techs that I had been using/building in defence were applicable to ag, and could be used to improve the environment as well help farmers be more profitable.

Around that time, Monsanto bought the Climate Corporation and Silicon Valley started paying attention to agriculture. I was hooked. I spent the next few years learning all I could about what is now “agtech”. This included consulting, research, a masters thesis on venture capital in ag, and a masters at MIT where I studied agribusiness, sustainability, and systems. Basically, I did everything I could to get into agriculture, and figure out my role in the industry (and pay my way at the same time).

Moving to Australia was not at all planned- we moved for my Partner David’s job, but it was one of the best things that has happened to me. I founded AgThentic and was able to commercialize and grow a lot of what I had been doing informally or in piecemeal ways in the US. AgThentic has now grown as a business and team, and we’ve been fortunate enough to work with amazing agtech startups, industry bodies, grower groups, research orgs, and many more to help build the agtech ecosystem in Australia.

Finally, after working with startups and investors and seeing the gap between the two, my business Partner and I decided to launch Tenacious Ventures, Australia’s first dedicated agrifood tech venture capital firm. I truly believe in this intervention for Australia, and it’s been a blast (and of course a challenge) to bring it to life.

What was it like moving to Australia?

I love it here! I’m fortunate enough to live by the beach, but also spend a lot of time in regional Australia. Meeting farmers and working with professionals in agriculture makes me feel like I’m getting to know Australia in a way that maybe my friends in the city aren’t, and I feel really fortunate.

 

 

Have you had any great mentors throughout your career? If so who, and what made them so influential.

My dad for starters. For as long as I can remember he was teaching me sports, business, and overall toughness and resilience. He’s been an inspiration and a massive supporter, and also a great friend. I often hear his voice in my ear when I make decisions or struggle with a tough situation.

My thesis advisor from MIT, Jason Jay, is also someone I really respect and have learned a lot from. He helped me bring a lot of rigour and discipline to how I think about systems and problems, and taught me practical skills…like how to finish a masters thesis 🙂

What do you think has shaped your career, or had significant influence over where you are today?

For most of my childhood all I was interested in was playing sports. I ended up playing soccer at a pretty high level and being an athlete has really influenced how I see the world and what I value. The importance of working hard for something, over a long period of time, despite having to make sacrifices and suffer ups and downs is really important in sports, business, and life. Curating resilience and being tough, learning basic skills and practicing them even when you don’t want to, building and leading a team, focusing on the present moment and controlling what you can control, and also just outworking the competition- in whatever arena- are things that sports have taught me.

 If you could go back and give your 18-year old self some career advice, what would it be?

Build relationships. Not only is it important to get out there and meet people, but also cultivate strong relationships with those you value and want to spend time with. And equally, spend as little time and energy as possible with those who you don’t respect or don’t respect you- life is too short, and good people are too hard to find!

 

 

In your experience in agtech, what are some of the biggest challenges facing the next generation?

There are tons of challenges with agtech right now, which is part of the reason it’s so exciting. There are tons of opportunities. But one challenge for the next generation is the skills that are needed to build and interact with technologies. Tech is changing incredibly fast, and all industries are competing for the best talent in areas like machine learning and AI, so agriculture needs to build and retain capabilities in these areas.

What excites you about the future of agriculture in Australia?

I am really passionate about seeing more farmers as innovators themselves. They of course already are innovating, but I believe the next step is finding ways to take these solutions from solving a problem on one farm, to having an impact across an industry. This might be the farmer as the innovator, or in collaboration with an entrepreneur or company, or even as an advisor or investor. Building out these pathways where famers are central to the innovations being developed, and are rewarded for their role, is vital to the success of agtech.

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Tell us about yourself Lachie…

My name is Lachlan Lynch and I am working in Brisbane as a Senior Investment Associate for Laguna Bay. I grew up on a cattle station in North West Queensland and have always wanted to be involved in Agriculture. The life I am living now is significantly different to the one I saw over 10 years ago however it still focuses on a passion, Agriculture. Whilst I live in the city, I still have continuing involvement in the family farm. I have also co-founded YARN (Young Agribusiness Rural Network) an organisation providing networking events in Brisbane, to help connect and promote agriculture.

Why did you join the FFN Board & what do you love most about the organisation?

I joined the FFN Board because I am passionate about educating and employing young people in agriculture. I believe that the opportunities within agriculture are so diverse and these need to be promoted. I wanted to be a part of the organisation as they do a fantastic job of promoting agriculture as well as providing great networking opportunities.

What about your career…how did you become a Senior Investment Associate?

Before moving to Brisbane, I grew up on the family cattle station in North-west Queensland where like most kids in the area I was educated through correspondence followed by boarding school. After leaving school, I realised that I wanted to work in Agriculture however wasn’t sure where, so I went Jackarooing through the Northern Territory and Queensland for a few years.

Whilst I could have easily enjoyed continuing working on cattle stations, I realised that I was lacking business management skills, so I enrolled in Agribusiness at Marcus Oldham in Victoria. For a bloke from NW QLD, moving 3,500 km to Victoria to study, I was certainly putting myself outside of my comfort zone, however it meant that I gained exposure to other sectors in Agriculture, which I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced.

While studying, I became particularly interested in institutional capital investing in agriculture and was lucky enough to get a 10-week placement with the specialist funds management firm, Laguna Bay. I now work as a Senior Investment Associate in the Investment team at Laguna Bay. My primary role involves identifying and analysing investment opportunities for our investors, as well as assisting with the management of existing assets in our portfolio.

What do you think has shaped your career, or had significant influence over where you are today?

I was encouraged early on in my career to ensure that I take every opportunity to network with my peers. I have always tried to adhere to this advice, which has led to a number of great opportunities.

Also, one of my favourite sayings is “keep it simple, stupid”. I use this every day when I am making decisions in and outside of my work life. In a world where people are trying to over complicate things, simple ideas are hard to come across.

In your experience in Australian Agriculture, what are some of the biggest challenges facing the next generation?

Access to capital – I believe that the next generation needs to look outside of the traditional capital available to farmers (bank debt) so that the industry can continue growing and expanding. This can include partnerships with downstream users or existing business, leasing assets off third parties and/or attracting external capital into your business.

Social Licence to operate – agriculture is facing growing pressures from people/organisations outside of the industry (e.g. Animal activists). These groups want to ensure that we are operating in an ethical and sustainable way. The next generation is going to need to be mindful of these pressures and ensure they can meet these demands however this creates an opportunity to better market our commodities.

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PART TIME EXECUTIVE OFFICER

FFN is a national, not-for-profit member network that supports young people involved in the agricultural industry and is committed to promoting the agricultural industry to the next generation as an exciting and rewarding career path.

FFN is focused on enhancing industry connections, developing specialised skills in key areas and delivering a strong financial performance through robust budgeting. FFN is seeking a skilled and enthusiastic individual to assist with FFN’s activities, to be contracted on a part-time basis.

Scope:

The Executive Officer will work across the following three functions:

  • Relationships (partners, members, Board, other stakeholders)
  • Initiatives (events, campaigns, promotions)
  • Communications (website, social media channels, webinars, online learning, e-newsletters)

FFN also contracts its bookkeeping and administrative functions. The successful candidate will work closely with these contractors.

RELATIONSHIPS
  • Maintain FFN’s existing partner relationships to ensure that value is being added
  • Seek and develop new partner relationships
  • Lead the growth of FFN’s business in a profitable and sustainable manner
  • Measurement of results being presented to the Board with proposed improvement plans where appropriate
  • Coordinate monthly online/teleconference Board meetings, providing completed board material in a single PDF document to Directors five business days in advance of the meeting
  • Communicate in a timely fashion with the Board on material matters affecting FFN
  • Serve as the external spokesperson and principal liaison for FFN, including effectively managing relations with FFN’s partners, the media, governments, non-government organisations and the public generally
  • Be responsible for communicating FFN’s Mission, Vision, Principles, Values, strategy and business plan to external stakeholders
INITIATIVES
  • Seek, develop and initiate new events and campaigns that align to FFN’s and partners’ goals, expectations and missions to increase FFN’s presence and reach across Australia
  • Work closely with current and potential partners to deliver tailored events/activation
  • Ensure all FFN events are developed and run in line with the FFN Strategic Plan, and within the FFN Operational Plan, to a high professional standard
  • Attend on behalf of FFN, events where the Network has provided partnership funding ensuring FFN achieves its return on investment
  • Management and growth of FFN’s existing initiatives/events including but not limited to Young Beef Producers Forum and Youth Ag Council
COMMUNICATIONS
Internal

  • Open communication with Chair and all Board members
  • Weekly internal update on activities to the Board
  • Regular communication with Administration Officer
  • Tracking and reporting performance against the FFN Strategic Plan

External

  • Reporting with partners, you will be managing the relationship and hence there will be individual requirements relative to each respective partner
  • Membership communications (mostly done via email and social media)
  • Social media account management
  • Annual survey
  • Top 5 weekly newsletter
  • Updating the FFN website with current opportunities

Overarching elements:

Anybody engaged with FFN on full time, part time or contracting basis must adhere to the following key elements:

  • Ensure the accuracy, completeness, integrity and appropriate disclosure of FFN’s financial and other sensitive information through appropriate policies and procedures
  • Maintain and comply with FFN’s internal controls over financial reporting through appropriate policies and procedures
  • Ensure that to the best of your knowledge and ability, FFN has complied with all regulatory requirements for FFN’s financial information, reporting, disclosure requirements and internal controls over financial reporting.
  • Ensure appropriate policies and procedures of FFN are developed, maintained and disclosed
  • Ensure that areas of uncertainty are raised

Submission:

The role of Executive Officer is a part-time position. It is anticipated between 10-15 hours per week, however, this has the potential to develop depending on the engagement of partners and events.

There will be annual reviews carried out by the Executive against the Strategic and Operating Plans, for which KPI’s will be developed at the beginning of the contract period in conjunction with the successful applicant. The Board believes it is important to build these in conjunction with the successful applicant as it does not see this role as purely executing a service but being actively involved in shaping the current and future FFN.

With your application, please include:

  • Contact details for two referees
  • Budget reflecting your costs for 10-15 hours per week
  • Breakdown of how travel costs will be invoiced
  • CV

As the position will be contracted, the successful applicant will need:

  • Proof of Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • An ABN

We welcome any discussion interest parties may have, please email admin@futurefarmers.com.au. For enquiries on the application process contact Georgie Fraser on 0427676818.

Please send your application to admin@futurefarmers.com.au before 31 March 2019.

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Isabel, tell us a little bit about yourself…

I’m a corporate lawyer practising in the agribusiness sector. I’ve recently married a ‘future farmer’, and live in the Upper Hunter Valley at Scone, on my husband’s black angus cattle block, “Belltrees”.

My family originates from Goondiwindi, where I grew up on a mixed cropping and cattle property. My family still runs the farming business, with my brother moving home to take over the reins.

My childhood consisted of earning below minimum wage pocket money cotton chipping, shielded spraying and throwing siphons. It’s strange to think that most of these jobs are now obsolete…

Tell us about your career… how did you get from high-school to where you are today?

Honestly, Dad always encouraged us kids to explore opportunities outside of agriculture, to really establish whether our passion for the bush was something with which we wanted to make a career. Both my siblings studied Ag, in some form, at university – so I was relatively the black sheep in deciding to study law. I had this idyllic notion that I may be able to tie in the law and ag, I just had no idea how.

Even before my final marks were delivered from University of QLD, I was backpacking in Europe. I arrived home broke and was luckily offered a junior lawyer position for a mid-tier commercial firm in Sydney. By accident, as opposed to career management, I ended up working in the commercial litigation team for 4 years and absolutely loved it. Whilst not conducive to any form of social life, the adrenalin of litigation was addictive.

What was it like transitioning your career from corporate Sydney to regional Australia?

Daunting.

To be completely frank, as a female, if you ultimately end up in a relationship with someone from the bush, your career path is relatively dictated by your partner’s respective location. You cannot predict who you’ll end up with and where they’ll be from, so having a career that is fluid is hugely beneficial. Originally, I had thought that the decision of whether to relocate to Scone was ultimately a decision between my relationship and my career. Happily, experience has taught me that I can have both.

Technology allows me to work remotely for clients, delivering the same standard of services I would’ve otherwise delivered in Sydney. This is key to me being able to retain bigger agribusiness clients, to avoid them taking their legal work to the larger city firms.

From a legal context, in your experience, what are some of the biggest challenges facing the next generation in agriculture?

2 really stand out for me:

1. WH&S – love it or hate it, WH&S is here to stay. Sadly common sense is not a given anymore, nor is it readily recognised in the law as a basic standard of being. Recent decisions have shown that the Court is really cracking down on inefficient WHS policies and practices. What were previously considered as tragic accidents are now litigated and investigated, and invariably someone is held responsible.

Agribusinesses, particularly family-run farm operations, can no longer afford not to spend the money and time associated with putting proper WH&S practices in place.

2. Succession – I think my parent’s generation are, through their historical lessons learnt, the first generation to really identify that succession planning has moved past a handshake and informal dinner table conversations. Invariably our generation will benefit from this shift in planning, and so will the longevity of the relevant business.

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