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10 young Aussie farmers bound for South America

25 June 2007

TEN young farmers have been selected to represent Australia at the World Congress of Young Farmers in Argentina next month, then embark on a Study Tour of Argentina and Brazil.

In coordinating both events, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) chose from over 100 applicants, all keen to join the Australian delegation to the International Federation of Agricultural Producers’ (IFAP) 2nd World Congress of Young Farmers, over 26-28 July 2007.

Australia’s delegates – aged between 25 and 34 – were chosen from high-calibre nominations, representing a cross-section of commodities and States (see Biographies at ‘Attachment A’ below):

  • 3 delegates, from Narrabri, Cumnock and Bentley, in NSW,
  • 2 delegates, from Emerald and Toombul, in Queensland,
  • 1 delegate, from Coonalpyn, in South Australia,
  • 2 delegates, from Bridgewater on Loddon and Cobden, in Victoria,
  • 1 delegate, from Thirlstane, in Tasmania, and
  • 1 delegate, from Woodanilling, in Western Australia.

“With agriculture crucially intertwined in the leading issues of the day; including climate change, water and the environment; and dominating headlines the world over, the NFF is excited to see our young farmers seize the opportunity to discuss ideas and share experiences with their international counterparts,” NFF President David Crombie said.

“From over 100 applications the NFF had just 10 places to fill, with young farmers and farming professionals from across Australia bringing diverse backgrounds and a passion to engage other young farmers from around the world to advance agriculture.

“Following the Congress, the NFF has also developed a four-day agricultural Study Tour of Argentina and Brazil, to give our delegates a unique first-hand perspective of different farm systems, while fostering a better understanding of issues such as international competition, global trade and local production techniques.

“Although we could choose only 10 delegates, we were impressed by the response from enthusiastic young farmers, all of whom are thoroughly involved in their local communities and passionate about the future of agriculture.”

The NFF thanks the sponsors of event for making the delegation possible:

The NFF is a member of IFAP, which provides an international forum for farmer groups to engage on, and advance, agricultural issues.

[MEDIA NOTE: The NFF can provide contact information for each delegate for media interviews upon request.]

ATTACHMENT A

National Farmers’ Federation Australian Delegates to the International Federation of Agricultural Producers’ 2nd World Congress of Young Farmers

NEW SOUTH WALES

Mr Hamish Munro, 30, from Cumnock in New South Wales

Hamish Munro is a confident, professional and driven advocate for Australian agriculture and progressive farming systems. A cattle farmer from NSW, Hamish is committed to traceability, quality assurance, best management practices, grazing systems and conservation farming. He is credited by Australia’s peak cattle organisation, the Cattle Council of Australia, as having an extensive knowledge of, and experience in, Australia’s National Animal Identification System. Hamish currently holds several positions on Committees of the Cattle Council of Australia and the NSW Farmers’ Association.

Hamish is keen to explore issues of product integrity across export markets at the Congress, as well as engaging in discussions – at the international level – on consumer confidence, animal welfare and genetically modified crops. Having previously attended international symposiums, Hamish strongly believes in supporting organisations, such as IFAP, as a forum for networking with like-minded young agricultural professionals from around the world to exchange ideas, share knowledge and develop business opportunities. Hamish is a passionate advocate for building the capacity and sustainability of Australian agriculture.

Mr Matthew Jones, 33, from Narrabri in New South Wales

For the past eight years, Matthew Jones has been an agronomist with Landmark. He is currently the State Commercial Agronomist for northern NSW and a member of the NSW Agronomy Leadership Group. Matthew holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, a Post Graduate Certificate in Rural Science and is completing a Master of Business Administration. Matthew previously worked for DuPont Australia as their youngest Territory Manager.

As an active member of his local community, Matthew believes in the promotion of the long-term sustainability of agriculture and its supporting industries through the adoption of new farming techniques and technologies, such as minimum-till farming, rotational cropping, increased water use and fertiliser efficiency, and always working towards improving best management practices.

Ms Frances Shapter, 33, from Bentley in New South Wales

Frances Shapter is a PhD student in molecular genetics. She demonstrates extraordinary conviction and commitment in her pursuit of a career in professional agriculture – not only at the academic level, but also in practical applicant through her own beef cattle farming business. Frances is a passionate advocate of the potential of biotechnology to assist in overcoming the challenges faced by agriculture and is keen to highlight the role Australia can play in advancing this science. She is a widely-published and highly-respected contributor to agricultural research.

Frances intends to use the opportunity the Congress presents to gain new insights into ways Australia can diversify agriculture in a profitable, culturally and environmentally-sustainable way. She is excited about the opportunity to make international contacts and participate in discussions on the key issues facing modern agriculture.

QUEENSLAND

Mr Hamish Millar, 34, from Emerald in Queensland

Hamish Millar is a cotton and grains farmer based in Emerald, Queensland. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Chairman of the Australian Cotton Growers Research Association and a Director of the Australian Cotton Industry Council. He is enthusiastic about the NFF Study Tour in highlighting and creating a better understanding of the drivers and barriers within agricultural markets and the competitive pressures on farming nations. Hamish is keen to look at different ways to better differentiate Australian cotton as a strong brand with a reputation as a quality product in international markets.

Hamish has a passion for building capacity and resilience in the cotton sector through research and development, which he believes underpins the profitability and environmental credibility of agriculture. He is keen to engage with international delegates in finding out different ways to fill skills shortages, implement GM technology and overcoming perception barriers that accompany biotechnology issues in Australia. Hamish is keen to engage with other delegates to gain an understanding of the complex agricultural world trade negotiations and to gain new insights into international agricultural issues.

Ms Dalene Brook, 32, from Toombul in Queensland

Dalene Brook is the Business Development Manager for OBE Beef Pty Ltd. Dalene’s family own several cattle stations around Birdsville and Bedourie in Queensland and Innamincka in South Australia. Holding a Bachelor of Applied Science, Dalene has travelled extensively around the world and is fluent in three languages.

With OBE Beef – a partnership of over 20 beef producers from outback Queensland – Dalene is responsible for developing and marketing organic beef. Highly regarded within her sector, she has displayed leadership in driving the marketing of the unique OBE product. As Argentina is one of Australia’s biggest competitors in both organic and conventional beef, Dalene is keen to learn about their production systems. She is also passionate about other agricultural issues, including succession planning, climate change, competition, animal welfare and balancing work and life in agriculture. She is determined to use this opportunity to create lasting contacts to advance these issues, as well as to enhance Australia’s performance in the organic beef market.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Ms Laura Long, 25, from Coonalpyn in South Australia

Laura Long is the Manager of Regional Skills Training’s Traineeship Program. She is passionate about regional education and vocational training as a way of providing career opportunities for rural young people. Laura and her husband manage their mixed farming property in the upper southeast region of South Australia.

Laura decided early in her life she wanted to make a difference to quality education opportunities for rural youth. She completed her Bachelor of Agriculture in 2000, and then specialised in secondary school agriculture and science teaching for her Bachelor of Education. At 22, Laura held the position of Manager in a training organisation, responsible for five staff, and is now responsible for over 100 agricultural trainees across the State. Laura’s efforts were recognised by being named the South Australian Young Australian of the Year in 2007. She hopes that the Congress will help in achieving her career goal to be an enthusiastic and motivated agricultural educator and mentor for rural youth.

VICTORIA

Mr Andrew Broad, 32, from Bridgewater on Loddon in Victoria

Andrew Broad is the Manager of a 1,800 hectare farming business which is owned, share farmed and leased in Victoria. He purchased his first property at 22, and is currently the Victorian Director of the Future Farmers Network and is a Board Member of the Victorian Farmers’ Federation Young Agricultural Professionals – having previously held the position of Chairman. Andrew also works as a freelance journalist for rural publications such as the Weekly Times and Stock and Land. In 2005, Andrew was selected to participate in the prestigious Nuffield Scholarship program.

An active participant in numerous youth leadership programs, Andrew strongly believes in the viable and sustainable future of Australian agriculture and is keen to share his ‘on the ground’ knowledge of starting a successful farm business at a young age. He is eager to learn more about international experiences of communicating to the community about the innovative and cutting edge technologies farmers now employ every day. Andrew is the recipient of an Australia Day Award in recognition of community service, as well as the winner of the VFF Young Farmer Challenge Award.

Mr Bernard Baxter, 31, from Cobden in Victoria

Bernard Baxter is a self-employed dairy farmer from Cobden, Victoria. He has combined the running of his successful dairy enterprise and study for a Bachelor of Business in Agriculture, with strong contributions to the agricultural sector at both strategic and practical levels. Bernard is committed to finding new ways for agricultural industries to capitalise on trade opportunities, developing country of origin labelling rules and the re-positioning of public perception of farming in the broader community. Bernard is passionate about encouraging young farmers and agricultural service providers to take a more active role in their sector and promote the many opportunities available in modern agriculture.

Bernard has previously held the position of Chairman of the State Steering Committee on Developing Dairy Communities, and has experience as a member of the National Council of Young Farmers, the Young Agricultural Professionals and a host of other active representative roles. He is a Young Australian of the Year semi-finalist and a Cobden Rotary Club Young Citizen of the Year. Bernard looks forward to learning about the experiences of international producers and sharing his expertise on dairy farming methods with the Australian delegation and international IFAP delegates.

TASMANIA

Mr Matthew Ryan, 33, from Thirlstane in Tasmania

A producer of fresh market and processing vegetables, Matthew Ryan also manages a successful cartage business that employs seven casual drives and participates in sub-contracting work. He was an organising member of the Tasmanian Fair Dinkum Food Campaign in 2005 and is an active member within the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association. Thriving on a challenge, Matthew is eager to understand how other countries have changed their practices and techniques to retain young workers and producers in agriculture, as well as source or develop new and emerging markets for their produce.

Matthew believes that the IFAP forum is essential to coordinating the modern messages of agriculture worldwide in an ever-growing global marketplace. He hopes to learn new ideas, forge new contacts and gain technical information to bring back to Australia to share with his state farming organisation and grower organisation in which he is an active participant.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Sally Thomson, 28, from Woodanilling in Western Australia

Sally Thomson is the Zone Manager of the Wagin/Woodanilling Landcare Zone in Western Australia and is actively involved in her family’s mixed sheep and cropping farming enterprise. She also works as a Group Facilitator and Mentor for ICON Agricultural Consultants – where she coordinates a group of 15 farm businesses in a two-year mentoring program to increase the profitability of broadacre grazing enterprises.

Since attaining her Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Development, Sally has dedicated much of her time to working with the local community on natural resource management issues. She was recognised with the Australia Day Citizen of the Year for the Shire of Woodanilling for her commitment to community issues. Having completed a 12 month Rotary Youth Exchange in 1997, Sally speaks fluent Portuguese and has maintained many contacts in rural Brazil. Her other accolades include Western Australian Young Achiever of the Year in 2005, Rural Ambassador and a Rural Youth Leadership Award.

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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