Outlook 2020 – Speakers and chair profiles

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photo of David Littleproud

The Hon. David Littleproud MP

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management
Deputy Leader of the National Party
Member for Maranoa

David Littleproud was elected to the House of Representatives for Maranoa, Queensland, in 2016 and is the current Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management.

He was born and raised in Chinchilla and has three boys: Tom, Hugh and Harry. After attending Chinchilla State High School, David finished his secondary education at Toowoomba Grammar School.

Over the past 20 years, David has owned a small business in Warwick and forged a career in agribusiness while living and working in towns such as Miles, Nanango, Charleville, St George, Stanthorpe and Warwick. This background provides David with an acute understanding of the important role small business and agriculture plays in creating jobs and promoting economic growth.

photo of Nikolai Beilharz

Nikolai Beilharz

ABC

Nikolai Beilharz presents the Victorian Country Hour on ABC Radio, the corporation’s flagship agricultural news and current affairs show. Nikolai has worked throughout Australia for the ABC Rural department, exploring regional Victoria, Queensland and South Australia during his 10 years covering everything in the farming world. He also appears regularly on ABC Radio Melbourne and News Breakfast on ABC TV explaining rural issues.

Connect with Nikolai on Twitter

photo of Steve Hatfield-Dodds

Steve Hatfield-Dodds

ABARES

Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds joined ABARES as Executive Director in August 2017. He is passionate about ABARES providing evidence and insights that are valuable to public and private decision makers, and support prosperous, resilient and sustainable rural industries and communities. 

Trained in economics, Steve has worked for around 25 years at the intersection of research and policy, with particular interests and expertise in natural resource management, sustainability and global change, integration science, adaptive governance, and the science-policy interface.

His previous career includes senior roles in government policy agencies, research, and private consulting. Before joining ABARES, Steve led the integrated science and modelling capacity that produced the CSIRO Australian National Outlook 2015. He is an expert member of the UN International Resource Panel, and has published in journals including Nature, Science, Agricultural Systems, Ecological Economics, Global Environmental Change, and Ecology and Society.

Connect with Steve on twitter @ABARES and on Facebook

photo of Stephen Halmarick

Stephen Halmarick

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Stephen Halmarick is Managing Director, Head of Global Markets Research at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. He was appointed to the role in January 2018 and is responsible for the team of economists and strategists that cover Australian economics, international economics, rates, fixed income, foreign exchange, credit and commodities research.

Stephen is also a key spokesperson to clients and media on macroeconomic themes and a broad range of financial market issues. Stephen has over 30 years’ experience as a financial markets economist and is widely regarded as one of the best economic communicators and presenters in Australia.

The Global Markets Research team produces a number of economic publications including short research notes on economic and market developments, presentation packs, longer thought leadership pieces on key structural issues, and regular reports on key countries and regions of the global economy.

photo of Peter N Varghese

Peter N Varghese AO

Chancellor of the University of Queensland

Peter Varghese AO is Chancellor of the University of Queensland. Prior to this appointment, he served as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2012-2016). Previous senior appointments included High Commissioner to India (2009-2012), High Commissioner to Malaysia (2000-2002), Director-General of the Office of National Assessments (2004-2009)

and Senior Advisor (International) to the Prime Minister of Australia (2003-2004).

Peter was the author of a comprehensive India Economic Strategy to 2035 commissioned by the Australian Prime Minister and submitted in July 2018.

Peter was educated at the University of Queensland, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours and a University Medal in history in 1978. He received a Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Queensland in 2013.

Peter sits on the boards of AMP Limited, AMP Capital Holdings, AMP Bank and CARE Australia. He is also on the international governing board of the Rajaratnum School of International Studies in Singapore and the governing board of Nalanda University in India.

photo of Sarina Locke

Sarina Locke

ABC

Sarina is Planning Editor for ABC Regional. She has been a senior reporter with ABC Regional, and has won an international prize for agricultural journalism and the Crawford Fund prize for food security. She has reported on Australia s international agricultural aid programs in Indonesia and East Timor. With nearly 30 years experience in the ABC and BBC, Sarina has helped bring climate change, environmental stewardship, agri-business, trade, biosecurity and production issues to a wider audience on all ABC media platforms.

photo of Peter Gooday

Peter Gooday

ABARES

Peter Gooday is the Chief Commodity Analyst and manages the programs for commodity analysis and forecasting, trade research and climate impact sciences, and is responsible for producing the quarterly publications Agricultural commodities and the Australian crop report. Peter has been involved in a broad range of research and analysis, including farm analysis, productivity and biosecurity; water market reform; productivity analysis;

infrastructure issues affecting agriculture; fisheries management; and economic issues associated with native forestry.

He has a degree in economics with Honours from the Australian National University.

“It’s a challenging time for agriculture and this is the best place to hear about what’s happening now and what’s going to shape the future. The program has lots of issue sessions and it will be good to hear the perspectives of people from different industries, points in the supply chain and backgrounds on what they think needs to happen next.”

Connect with Peter on twitter @ABARES

photo of Maggie Zhou

Maggie Zhou

Alibaba Group Australia and New Zealand

Maggie Zhou was appointed Managing Director for Alibaba Group in Australia and New Zealand in March 2016. As an early employee of the company, having joined in early 2000, Maggie has witnessed major changes in the company’s development and the rapid growth of China’s e-commerce sector. In her current role, as part of the company’s globalisation strategy,

she is responsible for establishing a local presence for Alibaba in Australia and New Zealand to further support local merchants enter the vast China consumer market.

Prior to this role, Maggie worked closely with the Australia and New Zealand business development team on Tmall Global, a cross-border B2C business platform for Tmall, and was in charge of overall government and public affairs for the platform. In Maggie’s earlier days with Alibaba, she was one of nine founders who launched Taobao Marketplace in 2003, and served as Executive Assistant to Jack Ma, the founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba, for almost five years.  Maggie is a Victorian Business Ambassador appointed by the State Government of Victoria, sits on the Victorian Premier’s Jobs and Investment Advisory Panel, and is a Trustee of the Adelaide Centre Festival Trust.

Maggie has been a key contributor to Alibaba’s globalisation strategy and delivering the company’s mission ‘to make it easy to do business anywhere’ in Australia and New Zealand.

Hugh Killen

Hugh Killen

Australian Agricultural Company

Hugh Killen is a highly experienced senior executive with more than 25 years’ experience in global financial markets and has worked in London, New York and Sydney. Hugh was appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Agricultural Company in February 2018. Prior to this, he was the Chief Commercial Officer assisting AACo’s operations and finance functions.

Before joining AACo Hugh spent 15 years at Westpac Institutional Bank. He held several senior executive roles which included managing Westpac Banking Corporation’s North American business throughout the global financial crisis, and finally as the Managing Director of Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities.

Hugh has also served as a board member of the Association for Financial Markets Global Foreign Exchange Division, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) Australian Foreign Exchange Committee. Hugh has represented Australia internationally as the RBA appointed member of the BIS Working Group developing the Global Code of Conduct for foreign exchange markets.

Hugh is an alumni of the Kings School Parramatta, Harvard Business School, and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Hugh has a lifelong association with agriculture having been raised on pastoral properties in northern NSW and south-west Queensland, and has retained strong personal involvement in the industry through private investments in farming.

photo of Chuck Magro

Chuck Magro

Nutrien

Chuck Magro is President and Chief Executive Officer of Nutrien. He was previously President and Chief Executive Officer of Agrium, which he joined in 2009.

Other key leadership roles Chuck held at Agrium include Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President; Chief Risk Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Development; and Vice President, Manufacturing. He joined Agrium following a productive career with NOVA Chemicals.

Chuck plays an active role on the boards of the Business Council of Canada, Business Council of Alberta and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. He is also vice chairman of the International Fertilizer Association and past chair and current board member of The Fertilizer Institute.

He also served as chair of Canpotex Limited, and was on the boards of International Plant Nutrition Institute and the Nutrients for Life Foundation.

Chuck holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Chemical Engineering) from the University of Waterloo and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Windsor.

photo of Steve Jefferies

Steve Jefferies AM

Grains Research and Development Corporation

Dr Steve Jefferies has more than 35 years of experience working in the Australian grain industry mostly in research management. In July 2016 Steve commenced as Managing Director of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). Prior to this Steve was the CEO of Australian Grain Technologies (AGT), Australia’s largest and market leading field crop breeding company, from its inception in 2002.

From 1996 to 2002 Steve was a wheat breeder, barley breeder and senior lecturer with the University of Adelaide.  From 1984 to 1996 Steve held several positions in research management and ministerial liaison in the South Australia Government.

Until his current position as Managing Director of GRDC Steve was also Non-Executive Director of Birchip Cropping Group, Non-Executive Director of Barley Australia, Chairman of the Australian End Point Royalty Steering Committee, and member of the Australian Wheat Quality Classification Council responsible for managing the wheat quality class system in Australia.

Steve was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s birthday honours list in June 2016 for significant services to primary industries.

photo of Duncan Rowland

Duncan Rowland

Stock Feed Manufacturers’ Council of Australia

Duncan is the Executive Officer for the Feed Ingredients and Additives Association of Australia (FIAAA) and the Stock Feed Manufacturers’ Council of Australia (SFMCA). Prior to this Duncan was the Executive Manager Biosecurity and Product Integrity at Animal Health Australia, a not-for profit organisation that brings together 18 livestock industries, the Australian Government, the eight state/territory governments, supporting organisations like the Australian Veterinary Association, and various research and development organisations.

Duncan also spent 13 years in the Australian feedlot industry working on and managing feedlots along the Australian eastern seaboard and representing the industry as a Councillor of the Australian Lot Feeders Association. He has extensive experience in biosecurity, facilitation, project management and applied research, development and extension.

photo of Robyn Murray

Robyn Murray

MAURI

Robyn Murry is a commercially oriented food industry professional having worked across a number of food research and development, marketing and leadership roles. Robyn is currently the Head of Marketing at MAURI, a division of George Weston Foods, a large food manufacturing business in Australia. Prior to George Weston Foods, Robyn was the Managing Director of the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council and continues her involvement as a non-executive Director. Robyn has also worked with Campbell Arnotts and Kellogg’s. Robyn holds a BSC in Food Technology and a MCom in Marketing.

photo of Ross Kingwell

Ross Kingwell

Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre

Ross Kingwell is the Chief Economist at the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC), a joint initiative of the WA State Government and the Grains Research and Development Corporation. He is also a professor of agricultural economics in the School of Agriculture and Environment at the University of Western Australia (UWA).

Ross chairs the Australian Farm Institute’s research advisory committee and has served as co-editor of the Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

He is a past-president of the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society and is a distinguished fellow of that society. Ross’s research interests and expertise are principally in farming systems and industry analysis. A current emphasis in his research is grain supply chain and grain demand analysis.

photo of Mark Torrens

Mark Torrens

Mars Petcare

Mark Torrens is currently the Director of Strategic Souring Raw Materials in Asia Pacific for Mars Petcare covering supply chains for India, Thailand, China and Australia-New Zealand. He graduated from the University of Newcastle, Australia with a Degree in Economics and a postgraduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment from the Securities Institute of Australia.

Mark spent just under a decade as a grain trader before joining Mars Petcare in 2007 where he has overseen procurement and commodity risk management. When not at work, feed production and commodities are never far away for Mark who runs a small horse and hay farm in the Southern Riverina with his wife and three children.

photo of Ruth Nettle

Ruth Nettle

University of Melbourne

Professor Ruth Nettle leads the Rural Innovation Research Group in the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Science at the University of Melbourne, and has worked in the agricultural sector in a range of roles including agricultural extension.

Ruth completed a social science PhD in 2001 focusing on the changing social organisation of farming systems.  Since then her research has focused on adaptability, resilience and the application of technologies in farming systems, human resources management, rural workforce development and agricultural extension policy and design.

Ruth’s research into farm employment relations, the attraction and retention of employees, the design of farm systems to suit people and industry workforce planning and action, has been used in capacity building efforts by agricultural industries in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.  

Ruth is a member of the International Association of Work in Agriculture, where a key focus is the future of work in agriculture globally.

photo of Jock Whittle

Jock Whittle

Paraway Pastoral Co.

Jock Whittle joined Paraway Pastoral in January 2008 and was responsible for operations until his appointment as CEO in January 2012. As CEO Jock has led the company through a period of significant growth, with the company adding 12 additional properties totalling over 1,600,000ha to the portfolio since 2015.

The company now has assets across three states, consisting of 27 property aggregations, running 220,000 head of cattle and 250,000 head of sheep. Jock also moved the company head office from Sydney to Orange in regional NSW.

Jock’s prior experience includes leading a team providing financial services to farming and post farm gate businesses for National Australia Bank’s Agricultural business. He was also Commercial Manager for Clyde Agriculture, a subsidiary of the Swire Group.

Jock holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Hons) from the University of Sydney.

photo of Amy Munro

Amy Munro

Australian Women in Agriculture

Amy Munro is a final year veterinary science student studying at Charles Sturt University and has most recently worked part-time as a facilitator at The Rural Woman.  Amy was born and bred on her family’s beef cattle property near Cumnock, NSW and has an intrinsic passion for, and understanding of, Australian agriculture.

As well as being a 2015 AgriFutures Australia Horizon Scholar, Amy has been involved in a variety of youth groups in the beef industry and pursued her passion for agriculture through her involvement with Australian Women in Agriculture (AWiA). In 2018 Amy became a Board Member and Secretary for AWiA and was fundamental in the creation the inaugural AWiA Youth Committee and is now the Vice President and Youth Coordinator for the organisation. With a passion for policy, food security and primary agricultural production, Amy is dedicated to encouraging youth in agriculture and supporting the next generation to progress Australian agriculture into the future.

photo of James Pateras

James Pateras

Modular Farms Australia

As director of Modular Farms Australia, James oversees the expansion of the Modular Farms brand in the Oceanic region. James spent most of his childhood working on his family’s farm, educating himself on Victoria’s fertile soil. In the mid 2000s he graduated from Deakin University with a major in economics and finance then continued working on his family’s farming business until it was hit with drought, forcing him to leave for the city.

Once there, he worked professionally in a bank for seven years, travelling in his spare time.

Having personally dealt with the impacts of the drought, James wanted to find ways to integrate technology and create a place for himself in the future of farming. After much research, James decided to bring Modular Farms’ technology home by launching Modular Farms Australia, supplying Brisbane built modular farms to farmers and businesses across the Oceanic region, in particular to the many isolated rural communities of Australia. The excitement of changing the way food is grown and more importantly providing food security for the ever-growing population was the main motivation behind James’ initiative. Despite Australia having a vast amount of agricultural land, the benefit of being able to grow anywhere at any time was far more intriguing than waiting for the next rainfall to appear. He sees modular farming as suitable to remote and island communities, food services, agribusinesses and educational facilities wanting access to freshly harvested, sustainable food.

James is an active member of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, a philanthropic organisation working to enhance services and opportunities for rural and regional communities in Australia.

“As a 3rd generation farmer, I felt that doing what we have done for the past 100 years will not suffice for the next 100 years.”

photo of Warwick Long

Warwick Long

ABC

Warwick Long started with the ABC in 2007 and has presented the Rural Report for ABC Shepparton for the last 12 years.

In that time he has also been a regular fill-in on programs around the ABC network including the Victorian Country Hour, the South Australian Country Hour, Drive for ABC Melbourne and Regional Victoria, plus summer host for Macca's Australia All Over.

Warwick has been at the forefront of reporting on issues in the Murray-Darling, the collapse of Murray Goulburn and the wider dairy industry, the first planting of GM crops in Victoria and the troubles of food processor SPC Ardmona.

Growing up in Broadford, studying at Bathurst and now working in Shepparton, Warwick has a passion for the people and stories from regional Australia.

Connect with Warwick on Twitter.
photo of Jo Jericho

Jo Jericho

Deloitte

Jo Jericho is a Senior Strategy Manager in Monitor Deloitte (Deloitte's specialist strategy team) with a focus on food and beverage clients in the consumer products and retail sector. She is the lead Director for Deloitte’s Agribusiness sectorZ and contributes to thought leadership in the strategic translation of sustainability goals, shifting diets and consumer trends to create sustainable food systems. Jo holds a Bachelor of Economics, a Bachelor of Management (Marketing) and a MBA from the Melbourne Business School.

photo of Sam Hole

Sam Hole

Syngenta

Sam Hole is currently the Head of Commercial in Australasia for Syngenta where he is responsible for leading strategic growth across Australia and New Zealand.  He is a member of the ANZ leadership team and a director of Syngenta Australia.

During his time with Syngenta, Sam has had exciting opportunities to explore various global markets throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, including a project in Senegal to increase rice productivity.  Working with the Syngenta Foundation this project made a huge contribution to farming communities and their ability to overcome food shortages.

Sam started his career in agriculture as an agronomist with IAMA on the Darling Downs, Queensland.  He moved to Sydney in 2001 to work with CRT before joining Syngenta in 2004.  Since then he has held numerous roles in sales and marketing across various markets including consumer, professional and agriculture.

His real passion for farming came late in childhood when his family switched from a naval career and its wide reaching deployments, to a sheep property in the Snowy Mountains where he learnt to chase sheep and trout.  Sam is married with two children and has been temporarily residing in Sydney for 20 years.

photo of Richard Heath

Richard Heath

Australian Farm Institute

Richard is the Executive Director of the Australian Farm Institute (AFI), an independent policy research organisation whose objective is to enhance the economic and social wellbeing of farmers and the agricultural sector in Australia by conducting highly credible public policy research and promoting the outcomes to policy-makers and the wider community.

Previous to this role Richard was Associate Professor of Agronomy and Farm Management at the University of Sydney and before that was involved in a large family farming business in North West NSW. Richard is a director of the Grains Research and Development Corporation and sits on the Advisory Committee for CSIRO Agriculture and Food. He is a Nuffield Scholar and was a director of Nuffield Australia.

Connect with Richard on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

photo of David Blackmore

David Blackmore

Blackmore Wagyu Beef

David Blackmore is a fifth generation Australian farmer who founded Blackmore Wagyu Beef in 1988. David has consulted on farming methods and cattle breeding in Mexico, Korea, China, U.S., Japan and numerous European countries.

Blackmore Wagyu Beef has developed a fine reputation, both domestically and internationally, where the product is sought after by some of the world’s most famous chefs. This reputation has been built up by not just its beef quality, but its attention to detail in  genetic breeding, method of production, animal husbandry and welfare, protection of the environment, sustainable farming including financial viability, and a strong marketing program which continually involves its customers.

Blackmore Wagyu Beef’s success comes from using unique farming methods, combining old world traditional Japanese farming, with new technically sound scientific methodologies, none more exciting than its self-funded genomic research project that is setting world standards in the genomic selection of cattle and will enhance high value in agriculture exports.

The business, David and the product have received multiple awards and accolades including 2016 - Delicious Produce Award for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Food; 2012 - Livestock Producer of the Year; 2011 - Telstra Regional Business of the Year and in 2007, Vogue E&T Best Product and Producer of the Year. This is third party recognition that a good farmer with a sound business produces a great product.

photo of Hsin Huang

Hsin Huang

International Meat Secretariat

Hsin Huang is Secretary General of the International Meat Secretariat (IMS), which brings together meat and livestock organisations throughout the world to exchange ideas on issues affecting the sector: trade, sustainability, animal welfare, human nutrition and health.

Prior to joining IMS, Hsin was responsible for climate change analysis in the Trade and Agriculture Directorate of the OECD. This included assessing the role of agriculture in climate change, challenges and opportunities facing the livestock sector, food security and sustainability, and developing a "green growth" strategy for food and agriculture.

Hsin is a past Research Fellow in the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP). In 2011 he was the recipient of the Alan A. Powell Award for his contributions in the GTAP Advisory Board.

photo of Jared Greenville

Jared Greenville

ABARES

Dr Jared Greenville joined ABARES in 2018 and leads the Bureau’s Agricultural Forecasting and Trade Branch. Prior to joining ABARES, Jared worked for the OECD where he managed work related to agri-food trade policy, global value chains in agriculture and food security and risk (focusing on Southeast Asia) along with monitoring and evaluating agricultural policy developments in a number of OECD member and non-member countries.

Jared has previously worked for the Productivity Commission on diverse issues ranging from Australia’s involvement in bilateral and regional trade agreements, domestic drought support policy to issues related to infrastructure policy and the challenges posed by an ageing population. Jared has a PhD in agricultural and natural resource economics from the University of Sydney.

photo of Mario Herrero

Mario Herrero

CSIRO

Professor Mario Herrero is Chief Research Scientist of Agriculture and Food at CSIRO, working in sustainable intensification of agriculture, climate mitigation and adaptation, livestock systems, and healthy and sustainable diets. His research focuses on increasing the sustainability of food systems for the benefit of humans and ecosystems.

Mario is a regular contributor to important global initiatives at the heart of the sustainability of global food systems, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Lancet Commission on Obesity and the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems.

Mari is a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, an Associate Fellow of Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and an Honorary Professor of Agriculture and Food Innovation at the University of Queensland, and has worked extensively in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

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Doug McNicholl

Meat & Livestock Australia

Doug McNicholl is Manager - Supply Chain Sustainability Innovation with Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), and experienced in livestock production, research and development, infrastructure project development and business administration.

At MLA Doug oversees an annual $12.5 million investment into innovation processes where sustainability considerations - environmental, social, financial - are integrated into the Australian red meat value chain from idea generation through to commercialisation. This applies to new technology, products and services, as well as new business and organisation models.

Doug is a partner in McNicholl Livestock & Veterinary Services, a beef production business in Queensland. His former positions include R&D Program Manager at the Australian Meat Processor Corporation and various renewable energy project development roles in the UK.

photo of Stephen Moore

Stephen Moore AM

North Australian Pastoral Company

Stephen Moore joined NAPCO in January 2018 as General Manager – Corporate & Commercial. Prior to this, Stephen spent 15 years in professional rugby where he represented the Queensland Reds and the ACT Brumbies in 176 Super Rugby matches. He also played 129 tests for the Wallabies including 26 as captain.

Off the field, Stephen has worked with Deloitte in Canberra in strategy and operations with large public sector clients. He also spent time with boutique advisory firm Quidini Advisory where he advised on culture and performance. Stephen has a Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science) from the University of Queensland and a Graduate Certificate in Change Management from the Australian Graduate School of Management. Stephen also holds director roles with Ronald McDonald House Queensland and Heffron SMSF Solutions; and is a board member of the Australian Beef Sustainability Steering Group.

photo of Gabrielle Vivian-Smith

Gabrielle Vivian-Smith

Department of Agriculture

Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith is acting Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer and acting Chief Scientist (Agriculture) in the Department of Agriculture. In her substantive role of Assistant Secretary, Plant Sciences and Risk Assessment she leads a team whose work aims to protect Australia's plant-based industries and the natural environment from exotic plant pests and to help maintain, improve and open overseas export markets for Australian plants and plant products.

Gabrielle has worked in biosecurity for 20 years including managing complex, high profile biosecurity and scientific programs and portfolios in science, operational response and policy at state and national levels. Gabrielle was previously Victoria’s Chief Plant Health Officer from 2013 to 2017.  From 2001 to 2013 Gabrielle led various Queensland Government biosecurity programs in invasive species research, policy and operational programs. Gabrielle’s formal qualifications include a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons), a Graduate Diploma in Horticulture and a PhD in Ecology.

photo of Gavin Mackay

Gavin Mackay

Mackays Bananas

Gavin MacKay is a director of Mackays Farming Group based in Tully, Far North Queensland and a third-generation farmer. The family business was established by his grandfather Stan Mackay as a banana farm over 75 years ago, and is the largest banana producer in Australia. Mackays operate from three growing regions across Queensland - as far north as Lakeland Downs, to Tully, and south to Bundaberg.

Mackays grow and produce bananas, sugarcane, beef cattle and more recently, have diversified into red papaya and avocados. Mackays provide employment opportunities for over 500 people year-round.  Gavin and his wife Lidia live in Tully and have three daughters. Gavin’s interests are spearfishing, water skiing and boating.

photo of Melinee Leather

Melinee Leather

Barfield Station, QLD

Melinee Leather is a beef producer from Central Queensland who is passionate about sustainable grass-fed beef production and the future of farming families in Australia. Melinee has worked in the beef industry for 30 years in partnership with her husband Robert. Their family beef cattle enterprise breeds and finishes cattle for the organic, EU and grasslands markets.

Melinee received a Department of Agriculture Australian Biosecurity Award in 2019 as Farm Biosecurity Producer of the Year, recognising her significant contribution to maintaining Australia’s biosecurity integrity and highlighting her strong advocacy for agriculture. Melinee continues to promote the importance of biosecurity practices to the long-term viability of individual businesses and the beef industry through her roles as chair of the Farming Systems Committee for the National Farmers’ Federation, board member of the Australian Beef Sustainability Steering Group and member of the Cattle Council of Australia’s Environment Committee. Melinee previously chaired the Animal Health Welfare & Biosecurity committee for the Cattle Council of Australia and was a board member of the Livestock Biosecurity Network and Agforce Cattle.

photo of Rob Hanson

Rob Hanson

CSIRO Data 61

Rob Hanson is a Senior Researcher at CSIRO’s Data61 and the Senior Advisor Policy and Quality for the data standards for Australia’s Consumer Data Right.  Rob is certified and experienced in managing risk and assurance, including fraud and security, and specialises in the policy implications of emerging technology.  He is also the lead author for CSIRO’s blockchain report ‘Distributed Ledgers: Scenarios for the Australian economy in 2030.’ 

photo of Francis Chiew

Francis Chiew

CSIRO

Dr Francis Chiew has more than 25 years of experience in research, teaching and consulting, and in science leadership and project management. Francis is globally recognised for his expertise in hydroclimate, hydrological modelling and integrated river basin management, and his research is widely adopted and cited.

Francis and his team in CSIRO have led many major hydroclimate initiatives and water resources assessment projects, directly informing water resources planning and adaptation in Australia and globally.

Francis and his team are also active in converting research outcomes into modelling tools and guidelines for the water industry. Francis is a member of several global and national water and environmental expert committees including lead author of the IPCC AR5 and AR6 Assessment Reports.

photo of Chris Chilcott

Chris Chilcott

CSIRO

Dr Chris Chilcott is the Research Leader for northern Australia and was the Project Director for the Northern Australian Water Resource Assessments, in CSIRO Land and Water based in Darwin. He has 20 years of research experience in the agricultural sector, and research and development.

His most recent research has focused on identifying the scale and location of opportunities for developing northern Australia including work relating to water resource assessments, transport logistics and biosecurity, and assisting in the establishment of the Darwin Living Lab as part of a Darwin City Deal.

photo of Robert Boshammer

Robert Boshammer

Cambridge Gulf

Robert Boshammer has been a prominent Ord River Irrigation Area grower for over 30 years and describes his passion as empowering people in regional areas to facilitate world-class business development.

Robert and his business partners have been involved in development of farms and farm businesses in Kununurra, other areas of the Kimberley, and Northern Territory. Robert has development and equity positions in a number of businesses including nurseries, forestry management services, tourism, produce marketing and irrigation, and pastoral business development.

Robert has been active in developing businesses with Traditional Owners and small indigenous owned entities in the Northern Territory and Queensland. Robert’s current board positions include Cambridge Gulf Ltd and the Ord Irrigation Mutual Co-operative. His previous board positions include the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Odeum Holdings, Shire Wyndham-East Kimberley and the Kimberley Development Commission. Robert holds tertiary qualifications in agricultural science and education.

photo of Ben Haslett

Ben Haslett

Woolenook Fruits / Nuffield Scholar

Ben’s family owned orchard business, Woolenook Fruits, is situated in the Riverland near Paringa, South Australia.

The long-term viability of his and other food production businesses in the Basin are contingent on the availability, accessibility and affordability of water from the Murray River. With Ben’s participation in water advisory groups to both the Federal and South Australian Governments, cross industry positions and directorships on commercial boards, Ben has clear views on the interplay between government policy, investment and technology uptake as drivers for regional development.

Ben has an honours degree in science from the University of Adelaide and the University of California, Davis. He is a 2015 Nuffield Scholar, researching how rural communities can best represent themselves and their cause for the good of the regions and Australia.

photo of Jeffrey J. Schott

Jeffrey J. Schott

Peterson Institute for International Economics

Jeffrey J. Schott joined the Peterson Institute for International Economics in 1983 and is a senior fellow working on international trade policy and economic sanctions. During his tenure at the Institute, Jeffrey was also a visiting lecturer at Princeton University (1994) and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University (1986–88).

He was a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1982–83) and an official of the US Treasury Department (1974–82) in international trade and energy policy.

During the Tokyo Round of multilateral trade negotiations, he was a member of the US delegation that negotiated the GATT Subsidies Code. Jeffrey is a member of the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy and previously co-chaired the Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee for the US Trade Representative.

Jeffrey holds a BA degree magna cum laude from Washington University, St. Louis (1971), and an MA degree with distinction in international relations from the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University (1973).

Jeffrey is the author, co-author, or editor of several books on trade, including Trans-Pacific Partnership: An Assessment (2016), Local Content Requirements: A Global Problem (2013), Understanding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (2012), NAFTA and Climate Change (2011), Figuring Out the Doha Round (2010), Reengaging Egypt: Options for US-Egypt Economic Relations (2010), Economic Sanctions Reconsidered, 3rd edition (2007), Trade Relations Between Colombia and the United States (2006), NAFTA Revisited: Achievements and Challenges (2005), Free Trade Agreements: US Strategies and Priorities (2004), Prospects for Free Trade in the Americas (2001), Free Trade between Korea and the United States? (2001), NAFTA and the Environment: Seven Years Later (2000), The WTO After Seattle (2000), Restarting Fast Track (1998), The World Trading System: Challenges Ahead (December 1996), The Uruguay Round: An Assessment (1994), Western Hemisphere Economic Integration (1994), NAFTA: An Assessment (1993), North American Free Trade: Issues and Recommendations (1992), Economic Sanctions Reconsidered: History and Current Policy (second edition, 1990), Completing the Uruguay Round (1990), Free Trade Areas and U.S. Trade Policy (1989), and The Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement: The Global Impact (1988), as well as numerous articles on US trade policy and economic sanctions.

photo of Eduardo Pedrosa

Eduardo Pedrosa

Pacific Economic Cooperation Council

Eduardo Pedrosa is the Secretary General of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) International Secretariat based in Singapore.

He leads the Council’s flagship annual report, the State of the Region and has edited several books on regional issues including Towards Balanced and Sustainable Growth Strategies for Post Crisis Asia (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies 2010)with Masahiro Kawai, Tan Khee Giap and Grace Aw; and An APEC Trade Agenda: The Political Economy of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies 2007)with Charles Morrison.

He has also written extensively on regional issues including The State of Asia Pacific Free Trade, (East-West Center, 2017); Globalization, inequality and the rise of protectionism, (Duke, Dialogue Review, 2015); and Time to not just integrate but connect the Asia-Pacific (The Jakarta Post, 2013).  

Eduardo is a member of the Advisory Board of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report as well as their e-commerce Expert Group.  Before moving to Singapore, Eduardo was the coordinator of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s Southeast Asia cooperation program based in Manila and the co-editor of its journal on regional economics and politics. He has also worked for the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Philippine Government. Eduardo is a graduate of the London School of Economics.

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Neal Hughes

ABARES

Dr Neal Hughes is a Senior Economist at ABARES. Since joining ABARES in 2006, Neal has researched a range of agricultural and natural resource issues including water property rights and markets, water policy in the Murray-Darling Basin and the effects of drought and climate change on Australian farms. Neal was a 2012 Sir Roland Wilson Scholar, and he currently holds an adjunct associate professor position at Deakin University.  

Connect with Neal on twitter @ABARES and on Facebook

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Alister Hawksford

Bureau of Meteorology

As Co-General Manager Agriculture Alister Hawksford leads the Bureau of Meteorology's Agriculture Program. Accountable for all the Bureau's interactions with the agriculture sector, Alister seeks to achieve the Bureau's strategic goal to generate $300 million of new value for the agriculture sector by 2022.  

As an enabler of all parts of the agriculture value chain, the Bureau's Agriculture Program works with partners to deliver high value opportunities and to empower service providers. Alister is building a team of trusted advisors and partners of choice within the market, and activating the capabilities of the Bureau and its partners in order to achieve the Bureau's strategic goals and the strategic goals of its customers.

Alister grew up as a super fine wool producer and joined the Bureau in January 2014, working in policy research; data services; project management; business development; and as the Sector Lead for the beef, sheep and agricultural insurance industries.  Alister has completed a Bachelor of Geographical Science with Honours, First Class.

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Dylan Hirsch

Hirsch Farming / Nuffield Scholar

Dylan Hirsch operates a grain enterprise in the highly variable low rainfall zone of Western Australia. After his experience in engineering and working on a commodity trading desk, Dylan recognised the importance of reducing his exposure to drought in order to develop his family business. Initially using multi-peril crop insurance, he undertook a Nuffield Scholarship to visit insurance and agribusiness professionals around the globe to investigate different financial systems for managing weather risk.

Following his research Dylan has incorporated weather derivatives into his business to offset the greatest business risk which is drought. While happy with the system, Dylan still sees plenty of room for improvement to make financial products accessible and useful to the broader Australian agricultural industry.

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Anthony Clark

NSW Department of Primary Industries

Dr Anthony Clark leads the Climate Applications and Digital Agriculture program in the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Climate Branch. The program conducts research and development on managing climate variability and change; monitoring and forecasting seasonal conditions; and the application of emerging technologies in agricultural industries.

Anthony’s team developed and run the NSW Drought monitoring framework, which has been tracking the current drought event in NSW since 2017.  Anthony has a 25 year career in climate and agricultural sciences having worked in the Australian Government, the private sector as well as in New Zealand and the United States.

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Wendy Craik

Climate Change Authority

Dr Wendy Craik has over 25 years’ of experience in senior roles in public policy and held senior positions including Commissioner at the Productivity Commission, Chief Executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission (MDBC), President of the National Competition Council (NCC), Chair of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), Executive Director of National Farmers Federation (NFF) and Executive Officer of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

Wendy is currently a board member of the Reserve Bank, Chair of the Climate Change Authority, Chair of the Steering Committee for the 10 year program for the Eradication of Red Imported Fire Ants, a Director of the Australian Farm Institute and a member of the Future Drought Fund Consultative Committee; and was Deputy Chancellor of the University of South Australia.

Wendy was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2007 for services to the natural resource sector of the economy, particularly in the areas of fisheries, marine ecology and management of water reform, and for contributions to policies affecting rural and regional Australia.

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Stuart Whitten

CSIRO Land and Water

Dr Stuart Whitten is a senior economist with CSIRO Land and Water who currently leads a portfolio of research designing environmental markets and assessing the value of natural capital. Previously he worked on the design, delivery and evaluation of a wide range of environmental markets including the Australian Government’s Environmental Stewardship Program and Reef Trust Tender, offset programs in Queensland and NSW, and with NRM groups on incentive and payment approaches to biodiversity conservation.

Stuart has previously worked on the economics of a diverse array of issues including Great Barrier Reef water quality, natural capital and agricultural productivity, and recently, the economics of Queensland Fruit Fly in major production areas across Victoria and South Australia.  He is a member of the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Plan Independent Expert Panel and previously the Queensland Government Water Science Taskforce. Stuart has provided expert input to governments, NRM and not-for-profit organisations and the private sector on the economics of biodiversity and natural capital.

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Stewart Lockie

The Cairns Institute, James Cook University

Distinguished Professor Stewart Lockie began his research career investigating the evolution and impacts of environmental policy in agriculture, which subsequently extended to biodiversity conservation, environmental standards, markets in ecosystem services, food security, coastal management, resource development, and management of natural and industrial hazards. 

Stewart’s work is multidisciplinary, high impact and focussed on critical issues associated with global social and environmental change. 

Stewart is involved in numerous leadership activities at James Cook University and externally. He is a past President of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Environment and Society and a member of the International Council for Science’s Committee for Scientific Planning and Review. He is also Foundation Editor of the journal Environmental Sociology and Editorial Board member of the International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Sociology of Development and Ecosystem Health and Sustainability. In 2012 Stewart was elected to fellowship of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

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Niels Olsen

Soilkee

Niels Olsen is a beef farmer in West Gippsland and founder of Soilkee, a patented system that builds soil carbon by engaging natural cycles. Niels has more than 35 years of experience in agriculture spanning dairy farming, agricultural earthmoving and mineral based fertilisers, which gives him a strong foundation in understanding soil.

Niels is inventor of the Soilkee Renovator - a patented technology and key component to the Soilkee System that has earnt the first soil carbon credits under the government regulated Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), being the first soil carbon credits worldwide to be eligible under Paris.

Niels is a winner of the National Carbon Cocky Awards 2019 ‘Outstanding Performance in Carbon Sequestration’ and Food and Fibre Gippsland’s Excellence in Agribusiness Awards 2019 ‘Excellence in adaption to change.’

Niels’ Soilkee System builds soil carbon by engaging natural cycles that improve soil fertility, water infiltration, nutrient availability and a sustainable increase in production, strengthening the clean, green Australian market through a profitable carbon neutral future for Australian agriculture.

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Michael Rogers

Australian Fresh Produce Alliance

Michael Rogers is the current CEO of the Australian Fresh Produce Alliance, which was established to be the first choice industry body that retailers and government go to for discussion and outcomes on issues involving the growing and supply of fresh produce.

Michael has a broad background in agriculture and food through roles at the Australian Food and Grocery Council, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the then Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. Most recently, Michael was General Manager, Export at Hort Innovation, and also held the role of General Manager, Stakeholder Engagement.

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Bisi Oladele

Jeftomson / Nuffield Scholar

Bisi Oladele is the Technical Manager at Geoffrey Thompson Holdings and an industry committee member for Skilled Workforce Solutions for horticulture in the Goulburn Valley region and member of the Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Collaborative Leadership table, reflecting her passion for mentoring and seeking opportunity to put back into the community.

Originally from Nigeria and calling Australia home since 1990, Bisi completed her bachelor and postgraduate diploma degrees in food technology in Nigeria, and her Master and PhD at the University of NSW.

Bisi has worked extensively in the food industry from packing sausages in a small business through to managerial positions, saying that “moving through the ranks has helped me to appreciate the potential that every individual could bring into the shaping and success of a business. The potential is there, we just need to find them and nurture them.”

Married and blessed with twin young men whose leaving for university in 2017 got Bisi revamping herself and within two years, she completed her Principal Auditor certification, a Women in Leadership program and a Nuffield Farming Scholarship. Bisi’s Nuffield Scholarship was supported by the William Buckland Foundation and saw her travel to 10 countries to understand human capital requirements for increasing automation in horticulture.

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Emma Germano

I Love Farms / Victorian Farmers Federation / Nuffield Scholar

Emma Germano is the Managing Director of her family mixed farming operation, I Love Farms, and Vice President of the Victorian Farmers Federation, and recognised as an emerging agricultural leader passionate about Australian farming.

I Love Farms has a firm focus on sustainability and connecting consumers with Australian famers to increase community understanding of food and fibre production.

Emma was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship in 2014 where her research examined global export opportunities for Australian primary producers. In November 2016 Emma launched a start-up ag tech software called ‘troop’ that assists farmers to recruit and induct farm labour and encouraging farm employment best practice.

Connect with Emma on twitter @germanoemma or Facebook @ilovefarmsaus

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David De Paoli

AustChilli Group

David De Paoli is the founding director of the AustChilli Group in Bundaberg, Queensland. For over four decades, David has invested heavily in Australian horticulture at an industry, government and business enterprise level. The AustChilli Group is responsible for significant horticultural enterprises encompassing privately held chilli and avocado production and a state of the art processing facility with domestic and international clients across three continents.

While its customer base includes direct supply to supermarkets, industrial B2B multinationals and food service companies, the AustChilli Group continues to invest in infrastructure, people development, R&D investment and automation to ensure the business enterprises stay ahead of the curve.

“My motto is to continually innovate, evolve and embrace change – or you will become road kill…..you are either growing or you are dying.”

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David Galeano

ABARES

David Galeano leads ABARES research on farm performance and resource economics. Prior to re-joining ABARES in May 2016, David led the social and economic work at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority with responsibility for implementing various aspects of the Basin Plan. He also held senior positions at the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, leading the economic aspects of Commonwealth fisheries management.

David also spent time at the Department of the Environment focusing on benefit cost analysis on environmental programs.

David began his career at ABARES as a graduate mainly working on fishery economics research. He has a degree in agricultural economics with Honours from the University of Sydney.

Connect with David on twitter @ABARES and on Facebook

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Paul Lindwall

Productivity Commission

Paul Lindwall is a full-time Commissioner with the Productivity Commission, and has served as a senior official with the Australian Government Treasury, the Department of Finance and now the Productivity Commission with a focus on macroeconomic policy, financial markets, industry policy, national security and social policy.

Paul has represented Australia at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also covering the European Union and United Kingdom. He later worked as a consultant to the Office of the Secretary-General and the Public Governance Directorate of the OECD.

Paul has degrees in economics from the Australian National University (ANU) as well as a diploma in Ancient History, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Paul has worked on a number of inquiries and is currently the presiding commissioner for the National Transport Regulatory Reform inquiry, a commissioner on the study into Remote Area Tax Concessions and Payments and chairs the Productivity Commission’s Audit Committee.

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Liz Ritchie

Regional Australia Institute

In February 2019 Liz Ritchie became the co-CEO of the Regional Australia Institute, after joining in 2018 as the General Manager Strategy and Partnerships. For almost 20 years, Liz has worked across the corporate, government and the not-for-profit sectors where she specialises in leading organisational transformation to build a sustainable future. Liz is a change agent, a marketer, a researcher and an extremely passionate advocate for regional Australia, heralding from Deniliquin in NSW.

Most recently Liz has held leadership role of Regional General Manager with Westpac Commercial Bank (2016-18) and supported the State General Manager in external relations and broader public engagement. Previously, Liz was the State Director for CEDA, in Western Australia from late 2011, and before that, held a range of leadership roles with CEDA since 2008 in Victoria.

In October 2018, Liz was appointed by The Hon David Littleproud MP, then Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, as a non-government independent member of the Indonesian – Australia partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector (Partnership).

Liz is also a gender advocate promoting the significance of women in society, and was a founding Director of the Australian Gender Equality Council (AGEC) and remains a National Ambassador.

In 2015, Liz was a Business News 40 Under 40 Winner in WA, recognised for her contribution to business and the community. In the same year, Liz became a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Liz also holds a Master of Applied Science (Organisational Dynamics) from RMIT and a Bachelor of Public Relations, RMIT. Most recently, Liz completed the Institute of Executive Leadership and Coaching Certificate in 2017.

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Georgie Somerset

AgForce Queensland

Georgie is a beef producer, a highly experienced rural leader and regional strategist. Her current roles are President of AgForce Queensland, Chair of Red Earth Community Foundation South Burnett, a director of the ABC, Royal Flying Doctor Service (Qld) and Children's Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service.

Georgie served on the board of QRAA for six years, was a member of the Federal Government's National Rural Advisory Council and Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee 2015, and is past president of the Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women's Network.

Georgie is alumni of the Australian Rural Leadership Program, the ABC and RIRDC Rural Women's Award, and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Institute for Resilient Regions.

With her husband and children, Georgie operates a multi-generational beef production business in Queensland’s South Burnett and Darling Downs, where she also serves on local economic development and community organisation committees.

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Jo Palmer

Pointer Remote Roles / 2019 AgriFutures Australia Rural Women's Award National Winner

Jo grew up in NSW’s Snowy Mountains, attended boarding school in Sydney for her high school years, and then moved to Wagga to study a Bachelor of Education at Charles Sturt University. She has spent time living in the US, Canada and the UK and has travelled extensively through Europe, Africa and South East Asia.

In 2013 Jo established a comprehensive learning and tutoring business - The Learning Tree - which operated in three regional towns in southern NSW. Since 2014 Jo has worked remotely as a sponsorship manager for a Sydney-based corporation, with this role motivating Jo to co-found the sponsorship and event management company Agri Alliance in 2016, which operates in the agricultural industry.

The idea for Jo's third business, Pointer Remote Roles, came at a backyard BBQ when Jo and a group of talented professional friends discussed the lack of a central place to find work that could be conducted remotely. Jo began to look at her own network of highly qualified, professional friends who were living in regional areas, many of whom were over qualified and experienced for their current role or not working at all. These professionals were being held back from remote employment due to lack of awareness and opportunity. Pointer was born in 2017 and is a job matching platform that connects businesses with talent that works remotely from anywhere in Australia - be it home, a co-working space or even a cafe. Pointer is a one stop shop for candidates to find remote work and a hub for employers and recruiters to find the best person for a role, regardless of where they live.

Connect with Jo on Facebook and Twitter or online

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Fiona Simson

National Farmers’ Federation

Fiona Simson is the President of the National Farmers’ Federation and the first woman to hold the post. A mixed farmer and grazier with tertiary qualifications in business and education, Fiona’s passion for local food production and the growth and sustainability of rural and regional Australia has led to her current career in agricultural advocacy and as a NFF non-Executive Director. Fiona also sits on the Board of the NRMA (NSW), the Australian Made Campaign Ltd, AgStewardship Australia, the Australian Farmers Fighting Fund and SproutX.