Industry News

Tell us about yourself Olivia…

I grew up on a mixed-enterprise farm near Dubbo, NSW, where we have dryland and irrigated farming as well as commercial sheep and cattle and a Merino Stud. As one of four children, we are very lucky to have parents who have empowered us to be involved in the business if we choose to but who have also encouraged us to go and expand our skill sets and try other things. Whilst working in the city now, I am still very involved in our family business, particularly the Merino Stud and the launch of our new, branded Merino meat product.

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

I joined FFN because I believe there is so much to be done in helping young people get involved and advance their careers in agriculture and so much benefit to the broader industry to be gained in doing so. We need a strong talent pool of young people to run our businesses, ensure greater innovation and technology adoption and continue improving the global reputation of Australian agriculture.

I think educating and skilling young people up for their careers, and connecting them with mentors is vital to ensure we have a capable group of young people to run the ag industry in the future across all areas – production, logistics, finance, marketing, legal, policy etc. FFN does a great job achieving this: connecting diverse groups and linking young people with scholarships and training programs, facilitating mentoring, encouraging ideas sharing and networking through event promotion and hosting.

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

I studied Agricultural Economics at Sydney University before working in business consulting and then going overseas. When I came back there was an opportunity to work on the delivery of a state-wide infrastructure fund in the office of the Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, John Barilaro.

I really enjoyed this role, as it involved travelling throughout NSW working with businesses and industry bodies to build regional infrastructure – everything from bridges, industrial precincts to mobile black spot towers to a livestock exchange in Casino. I am now managing the broader Regional Development portfolio for the Minister, looking after other funds, programs and policies that fall under the banner of Regional Development. We are now in the design phase to build inland freight hubs and airports, faster rail, more mobile black spot towers, more timber bridges and roads, more industrial precincts etc. under the Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund.

One of my favourite aspects of this job is that each day I am working with different industries, businesses, councils and community groups and thinking long-term and big-picture about the future needs of rural and regional NSW.  This includes looking at ways the NSW government can invest in the industries that underpin our rural communities such as agriculture, services, logistics, manufacturing etc. and delivering infrastructure, transport, roads and telecommunications to facilitate the continued growth of these industries.

My advice to anyone starting their career is to get as much work experience you can whilst at high school and university and also to get a good mentor who can help with tough decisions and provide general career advice.

What excites you about the future of agriculture in Australia?

There is so much growth and change in the agriculture industry at the moment – from major changes in consumer demand to changes in how commodities are supplied, packaged, transported and consumed as well as the mechanisation of traditional forms of production.  I think Australian farmers are well placed to respond to these trends, with significant opportunity to gain more margin at the farm-gate through value-adding, better branding and direct supply models, more efficient production and capitalising on Australia’s reputation for producing ethical, safe and quality commodities.

New markets and value-added products will require new modes of marketing and distribution, from daigous to subscription services such as MeatMate and I can’t wait to see how Australia leads the charge in developing these alternative models, given that we have the means and impetus to do so.

We are in a period of major investment in infrastructure, which will be crucial to minimising transport and freight times for our overseas exports. Inevitably, industries that are making money will attract both public and private investment in R&D and infrastructure, so I am looking forward to seeing how the ag sector will evolve with more resources underpinning it.

At the same time, I am wary of the challenges Australian agriculture is currently faced with, from trade wars and price volatility, access to finance, climate change and domestic access to energy and water – all of which are impacting our ability to operate. I look forward to seeing the Australian ag industry find innovative ways to tackle these challenges – adopting technology, implementing new modes of production and processing, investing in R&D and increasing the productive capacity of our existing assets through improved management.

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Rabobank’s Southern Queensland & Northern New South Wales Client Council is partnering with the Future Farmers Network to support young agricultural producers.

Rabobank are offering a place on their annual Farm Managers Program to one FFN Member or Young Beef Producer Forum attendee who displays a clear ambition and desire to help the sustainability of their industry and is someone who would benefit from business management training.

The Rabobank Farm Managers Program, a one-week residential course held outside Christchurch NZ from 23-28 June 2019, is for up-and-coming farm managers from across Australia and New Zealand who want to take their management skills to the next level.

The successful applicant will win:
• a place on this esteemed course (valued at $5,900)
• all flights and accommodation to and from New Zealand

The Farm Managers Program will help you to hone your management skills. You’ll leave this week-long program with greater confidence in your leadership skills. You’ll also be equipped with the ability to influence business decisions, and build your own network of young, progressive and passionate farmers.

If you’re an up-and-coming farmer ready to take the next step, this program will help you do all this and more:
• Improve your communication and influencing skills to provide input on business decisions
• Improve your efficiency through time management
• Learn how to develop a business plan
• Understand the essentials of financial management and budgeting

Farm Managers Program Dates:
Sunday 23 – Friday 28 June 2019

Farm Managers Program Location:
Christchurch, New Zealand

Selection criteria: 

  • At least three years’ experience on-farm
  • Currently working in a farming role that includes some management responsibilities
  • To aspire to either own or fully manage a farming operation in your future
  • Member** of the FFN, membership fees range from $25 to $55 for more information go to www.futurefarmers.com.au/memberships

** If you are not a member of the FFN but did attend the 2018 Young Beef Producers Forum in Roma November 2018 you are welcome to apply.

Click here to download and complete the application form

Click here for more information on the Farm Managers Program

If you have any questions please contact:
Sally Rigney, Rabobank Southern Queensland and Northern NSW Client Chair
phone: +61 417 758 353
email: sallynicol@bigpond.com
Completed application forms to be emailed to Ainsley McCallum:
Ainsley.McCallum@rabobank.com

Applications close Friday 26th April, 2019.

Applicants will be advised of the result of their applications by 10th May, 2019.

 

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Tell us about yourself Lachlan…

I grew up on a mixed sheep and wheat property in the Far West of New South Wales before moving on to Yanco Agricultural High School in the Riverina to complete my high school education. I completed a Bachelor of Agribusiness through the University of New England whilst working full time for Elders in varying wool roles across eastern Australia before moving into horticultural management at Southern Cross Farms based in Mildura.

I have just completed my Master of Agribusiness through Marcus Oldham College and am actively involved in a small mixed farming enterprise.

What was it like studying at Marcus Oldham College?

I really enjoyed all of my tertiary education but completing my Master of Agribusiness through Marcus Oldham was incredibly enlightening. I got access to industry experts who were more than open in discussing their thoughts and opinions on everything from commodity marketing to human resource management and business strategy.
Being able to complete my research into agricultural investment and be questioned over my ideas was a great experience and it has been incredibly beneficial to tie theory to real world applications.

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

I joined the board for a number of reasons, I am incredibly passionate about agriculture and have enjoyed the opportunity to help promote the industry. I enjoy working with other board members and partners who I consider some of the best and brightest in the industry and am excited as to what future we as a team can help create.

In your experience in agriculture as a whole, what are some of the biggest challenges facing the next generation?

I think our challenge will be getting the right people with the capacity to change quickly and adapt to the dynamic changes we face not only on farm but throughout agricultural supply chains and agribusiness.

I have been so fortunate to work in and observe sheep, grain, cattle, wool, almonds and pistachios, wine grapes, table grapes and avocados as well as travel throughout Asia and Europe to meet with customers and a number of the major challenges we face and will face are shared across all of these industries. However I am quite positive that with the experience we have in industries coupled with those looking to enter agriculture with new ideas we are set for a great future.

You recently travelled overseas to Spain and Germany looking at orchards – any takeaways you can share with us?

I recently with Southern Cross Farms, got the chance to travel through Europe to gain more of an understanding of fruit markets and citrus production. Although I learnt an enormous amount about these industry specialisations, the shared challenges we have across the globe in agribusiness in things such as labour, the environment and consumer expectations really hit home.

What excites you about the future of agriculture in Australia?

The people we have wanting to get into agriculture will help set us up for the future. Looking at the board of directors of FFN we have everything from farmers to those involved in investment to legal professionals all wanting to help agriculture and agribusiness advance.

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Henry, tell us a bit about yourself…

I am from the Swan Valley in the Northern Suburbs of Perth in which my family had an interest in beef cattle. After completing high school, I studied agriculture at university with an aim to move into Farm Management. This career path has taken me around most of the wheatbelt of WA as I predominately work in mixed or continuous cropping operations.

Why did you want to join the FFN Board?

I joined the FFN board as I had been following the organisation on social media for some years. I met FFN’s Executive Officer at Perth Innovation Generation and was really interested in the organisation. When I realised had been following FFN’s social media accounts, without actually having any idea what this national group was about, I thought I had better join to help increase the national spread.

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

I studied agricultural business at university completing an honours project. I then applied for jobs on farms and have worked my up from there.

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

I don’t per se have any great mentors. I have worked for some very good farmers and farm managers who I still keep in contact with. I have taken on board how they operate, to improve the way in which I operate.

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

Probably the best way to sum up how I have ended up where I am is to take any opportunity that has been towards my aim. I have also moved on when these have not worked out. There are people who stay in the wrong job for too long and do not end up in a good place due to financial commitments. By having a good work ethic and not burning bridges I am able to pick and choose options.

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

Listen to your own advice: sleep on any major decision before committing.

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

  • Finding the next generation and financing them. I was recently informed that if I wasn’t a third-generation farmer then finance institutes are not interested in looking at me.
  • This insistence that a shop must be at the end of every road for families to exist in regional areas.

What excites you about the future of agriculture in Australia?

The involvement of our consumer in the growing and producing of food and fibre is really a great opportunity for the industry to take up.

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This event is in the past. You can view the webinar recording below.

Recording of Breaking Down The Data Barrier Webinar, held April 11 2019

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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: CLOSED

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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Tom, tell us a bit about yourself…

I grew up in Berrima NSW just under 2 hours south of Sydney. My father, a wool buyer, travels daily to Sydney but wanted our family to grow up out of the city. I have always had an interest in agriculture, mainly in the sheep and wool industry. I am the Operations Manager at AuctionsPlus and have been with the company for 5 years. My role leads me to manage the commercial livestock and stud livestock teams for AuctionsPlus, working closely with livestock producers, agents and buyers. In addition to this, I also manage the wool platform for AuctionsPlus – AuctionsPlus Wool, an online bid and offer board.

Prior to starting at AuctionsPlus, I worked as a horse handler at William Inglis and Son, thoroughbred auctioneers at Randwick. I graduated from Charles Sturt University Wagga with a Bachelor of Business Studies. Since then I have also completed further study, finishing my Masters of Agricultural Business Management by distance through Charles Sturt University in 2018. Also in 2018 I completed my NSW Stock and Station Certificate of Registration.

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

I joined the FFN board for a couple of reasons. Firstly, when I finished university, I was unsure of where to head and what to do to work in the livestock industry. I wished I had been more proactive and sought out opportunities within organisations like FFN. So, when a chance to apply for the FFN board became available I thought this is a great opportunity to offer what I had learnt in my short time, to people leaving university. In addition to this, the current AuctionsPlus CEO Angus Street, and the previous AuctionsPlus CEO Anna Speer were both on the board. They spoke extremely highly of the people you can meet and what you can learn through sitting on the board.

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

I finished high-school in 2008, I did not study agriculture. However, throughout school I had worked with William Inglis and Son and always thought I would head into the equine industry. After a gap year in the UK in 2009, I headed down to Charles Sturt University Wagga and started my Bachelor of Business Studies. Very quickly through my studies I decided I wanted to work in agriculture and mainly livestock, which stemmed from a combination of meeting people in the industry and learning about the industry. Once I completed university, I worked as a horse handler at William Inglis and Son in 2013 before starting at AuctionsPlus in the operations team.

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

My career has initially been shaped by my family. Without directly pushing me into agriculture both my mother and father have always made sure that I got a “healthy dose” of the bush. Whether it was my dad teaching me about wool and getting me to bid at the wool auctions as a 10-year-old. Or about sheep on the property he grew up on, which is now being run by my uncle. Or my mother taking me out to Baradine where she grew up and learning about the sawmill my grandfather ran until 2004. From there my career was shaped when I was at university. Meeting people through Wagga Agricultural College led me to learn all the different opportunities within agriculture. There was a cross-section of people who were at the end of their working career, starting their career, starting or finishing study. Which meant I was able to learn about many different industries.

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

Take every opportunity that comes your way, agriculture is only a small industry so you never know who you will meet or what you can learn from them!

What excites you about the future of agriculture in Australia?

Technology being implemented on farm has such a huge potential, and we are only tapping the surface. It could be the on-farm testing of wool to be sold online on the day of shearing; sending the hologram of a stud ram from West Australia to New South Wales so growers do not need to look at it in the flesh but can see it walk around in a life-sized form. What’s more, the cost of new technologies is cheaper each day, taking these things from ideas to the consumer level is becoming easier and easier.

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