Great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar

Its almost two months since I put fingers to the keyboard for my personal blog.  To be honest I have been embarrassed by the discourse between farmers and farmers on social media. I also see a lack of leadership by industry in encouraging respectful conversations between farmers and the community and it saddens me.

‘Great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.’

This post is a special shout out to the team at Bulla Burra for continuously showing great leadership. You can see the full post on Facebook here

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Last week I had the pleasure, courtesy of Wingecarribee Shire Council of being on the panel post the showing of the 2040 Film.  The film has some confronting things to say about some of our current agricultural systems. Its also uses very inclusive language to invite everyone to work together and use the film as a launch pad for bold visions 

This will require respectful conversations between everyone – thank you Bulla Burra for showing us how it is done.

John concludes his letter by saying

The main point of this letter is to say that agriculture is a professional, thriving industry – but we are not very good at talking about it. We tend to live in our own little farming bubble and talk and whinge amongst ourselves. We get frustrated when we see something on “Sunrise” or “The Project” which affects us, and we go off half cocked on FB or Twitter – mainly to people within our own industry. And when we do get to talk to you we are usually being reactive or do a poor job of articulating our argument. We are sorry about that.

From our perspective we also need to do a far better job of listening. You rightly have questions and concerns about what we do, as the results of our efforts ends up feeding and clothing your families. How can you not be rattled by what you see on social media about GMO’s and Roundup, especially if we don’t have meaningful conversations with you about what we do and why. Of course those of you who love animals will be furious (as we are) when you see examples of animal cruelty. And yes, the whole idea of climate change is scary for us all.

Make no mistake, farmers are some of the most intelligent, educated, climatically aware, hardworking people on the planet – and focused on developing new, innovative and environmentally sustainable ways to continue to feed, clothe and fuel us all. As farmers, we don’t always get to have meaningful conversations with people outside of own agricultural bubble, so please feel free to pass this letter on to your friends both within and outside of ag. It is only by listening to each other that we create understanding, empathy and stronger communities.

With respect

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Success is a journey and the Pygmalion Effect is a powerful motivator





Who do you vote for when it is clear there is a dire shortage of Jacinda Ardern’s on your ballot paper?

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A few weeks ago it was suggested I write an opinion piece on what the Australian voter is looking for in a politician.  It has become clearer and clearer that like the rest of the world Australian voters want politicians like Jacinda Arden. 

Today I will cast my vote in the NSW State Elections. In the lower house my sitting member belongs to a party who for the last 20 years has fought elections at national level on race to the bottom on who can spread the most fear, paranoia and disunity. A party with a coalition partner that is dogged by issues of  public trust, personal integrity, respect for women, policy failure over water, live export and drought as well as support for mining over farming. 

The Labor candidate texted me ( and the rest of the electorate) to tell me hospitals and schools are at the top of his agenda. Yet he belongs to a party that let another very serious incident showing disrespect for women give rise to grave concerns about the behavior they walk past.  With a clearly not ready new Labor party leader thrown in the bear pit of fear, paranoia and disunity

And the Greens. Well I feel very much like First Dog on the Moon on this one. Its hard to support a party whose policies too often alienate the people who look after more than 50% of Australia’s landscape. Its hard to support a party whose core pillar is being green when I am not confident they understand what being green is.

We all want leaders who can run the country and keep us in the black and be green at the same time.  What we also are screaming out for VERY LOUDLY is that those people have principles we are proud of.

I have no idea at this point in time what I will do with my lower house vote. What I will do is follow Jane Caro’s lead and do what our Prime Minister wont commit to. I will put the extremists in One Nation or elsewhere last on my ballot paper.




Resilience starts with having the right people in your circle

This morning the Young Farming Champions Network posted this thank you on Facebook to their leadership team 

Over the last 12 months the Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) has transformed a vision into a reality.

As the team behind Picture You in Agriculture, @YouthVoicesYFC and the youth voice of theArt4Agriculture Young Farming Champions, their vision was to support young people to take the next step from leadership development to leadership practice and continue connecting agricultural and urban communities with a youth lead voice.

The YVLT have overcome many obstacles, volunteered countless hours and have continuously gone above and beyond what was expected of them. Their dedication is a testament and an inspiration to young people working in the agricultural sector.

On behalf of the entire YFC team (and future YFCs) we would like to say a massive THANK YOU to them for their dedication to a better future for our youth.

Today our Young Farming Champions Network hosts its inaugural AGM. Congratulations on reaching this important milestone and we look forward to a wonderful year ahead with the 2019 YVLT committee.

#YouthinAg #YouthVoices18 #YouthVoices19


This post is tell them how grateful I am they have come into my life and put their hands up to be my succession plan

I have been on many committees and worked with a lot of people trying to do good in my lifetime. These young women are exceptional. I salute them. Tonight at their AGM their chair Dr Jo Newton will give her annual report I look forward to sharing this with you tomorrow. You will be as proud of them and all the #YouthinAgVoices that they are collaborating with as I am

Love this infographic – Source  


Why I blog and why do 10,155  people follow my blog 


I get asked a lot why I blog and do I know who follows me

Why I blog varies from blog to blog and why people are interested in what I say I imagine is just as diverse

I blog when I feel some-one or something has been wronged, I blog when I feel proud of something or some-one, I blog for all the people out their striving to see the bright light in a sea of darkness, I blog for the people who share my vision and look to me to amplify it.

And I blog for history as my blogs are being recorded in the National Archives

My most popular blogs are

Barnaby Joyce has jumped off the cliff of no return

Coles it’s tough being the villain in the story 

10 Reasons why the world should buy Australian produce

What makes milk froth

My blog started as an experiment. I wanted to know how much time and expertise it took to blog after finding myself at a meeting of agriculture’s Research and Development Corporations senior people.

In late 2011 there was close to 50 people sitting around the room at a presentation being given by Charlie Arnot from the Centre for Integrity  There was a consensus in the room that the voices of our farmers should be amplified and a number of people suggested that farmers should start writing blogs. My mouth just dropped open and I just couldn’t help myself and in my blunt manner I said.

Okay if farmers are going to find the time to do this who in the room is going to support them? Just to start with you need a blogging platform and considerable amount of expertise to navigate that blogging platform.

I got a sea of Julie Bishop death stares, so I taught myself to blog.

One of the things that I blog about a lot is the need for building the capacity of our farmers to operate their businesses in a manner that will allow them to consistently and profitably meet or exceed community expectations. I will go so far as to say the fact that to date we haven’t built that capacity is the biggest threat to our food security in this country. And it is under threat. For the first time ever there is the reality we will be importing milk into this country

After 15 years of lobbying for the programs and support networks to build this capacity in our farmers I spend far too much time reminding myself of the few wins and tapping into my support network that helps me get out of bed in the morning.

Some questions we can ask ourselves

What does the community expect from our farmers beyond safe, affordable nutritious food and quality natural fibres?

How do we ensure our farmers have the capacity to meet or exceed community expectations?

Where are the gaps in our training programs?

What support networks do our farmers need?

Having worked outside agriculture for 25 years I know how other industries meet or exceed consumer expectations. It can be done. It starts with a willingness to acknowledge why its important.


83% Of Consumers Rate Transparency & Ethical Behaviour As Greatest Trust Builders




Will billboard advertising make Australians proud of our farmers

One Australian farmer feeds 700 people - time to celebrate

Farmers are understandably feeling powerless and undervalued in the current climate. Livestock farmers are shocked at the vitriol being unleashed on cotton farmers. Cotton farmers are en masse updating themselves on their industry facts and sharing with them with the world and wondering why this modus operandi doesn’t seem to be resonating.

Everyone is looking for somebody to blame and the quick fix. Industry representative bodies and National Farmers Federation are getting some flak. The farmers’ quick fix appears to be TV adds and billboards. I haven’t seen anyone put forward a *value proposition yet. Nor have I seen anyone suggest what our key messaging should be and who our audience is.  We seem to have reached the destination without deciding where the journey should begin.

Tim Minchin is his 2013 Occasional Address  declared ‘ Teachers are the most admirable and important people in the world.’ Anyone who has spent anytime in a 21st century classroom will surely agree with him

I was recently invited by a secondary school principal to speak at a secondary school principals’ event. I asked her how I should start the presentation. She said “Show them your websites – they are a teachers dream”  Whilst I was happy to take the compliment, it got me thinking how long is it since an industry body contacted me to let me know they had made changes to their school resources websites. Too long it seems and my dream website is now my nightmare and I look forward to those industry bodies providing me with the info to update this site in particular.

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It got me thinking whilst farmers like to think our profession is the most important in the world, for us teachers are certainly the most important. .

Teachers today have been tasked with ensuring their students are work ready and that means they have to deliver on the 4C’s as well as the 3R’s  because  21st century employers value the 4C’s well above the 3Rs. 4 C versus 3 R

Graduate Skills Most valued by Employers Source AAEG 

Some of our agricultural industries in this country DO have world class school education resources.

How many farmers know what resources their industry body has created to make teaching agriculture related concepts joyful and easy.

How many farmers know they exist and where to access them?

Are they as impressive as these Learn About Wool 

If not why not?

Are your farming industry’s resources empowering teachers to engage their students in the 4C’s 

How can we best support our industry bodies to ensure all our farming industries have world class school education resources?

Lets all work together to ensure we are as enthusiastic about understanding  and appreciating our audience as we want them to be as enthusiastic and an appreciative of us

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#StrongerTogether #agriculture #farming #teachers #education

To get the best return on investment the Gold Stand requires measuring  Impact. My experience working with farmer boards is they are outputs focused.

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*Fascinating measure of outputs. How often do you look a billboard beyond when you are stuck in traffic?

How do billboard companies measure the results?

The Outdoor advertising industry utilise a revolutionary audience measurement system called move, move measures the total traffic passing by a particular billboard and delivers an accurate understanding of the number of people who will actually see the billboard. This measurement include the reach and frequency of viewing. In order to further understand your individual business conversions, we recommend directing people to a unique phone number or web page url, or listing a specific offer shown only on the billboard face.

Droughts and flooding rains are highlighting the Voices of talented Youth in Agriculture

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more,.png

When I came back to the farm in 2001 from a career in pharmacy I was quick to realise milking cows was not my forte. I wanted to contribute beyond underwriting the business financially when cash flow was short. In the Australian dairy industry that happens far too often and far too often it has nothing to do with poor business management skills. 

I decided I would use the marketing and consumer insights skills I learnt in pharmacy to see if I could find a tribe of people who shared my passion to ensure that the product farmers produce was genuinely valued by everyone in the supply chain.

Interestingly enough that tribe came from outside the dairy industry and they were all under 40. After 15 years that tribe is growing exponentially and I couldn’t be more proud. To be honest it couldn’t come at a better time. My advocacy role was seriously starting to impact on my health and what is extra special the young people in the tribe could see that and wow have they stepped up.

Australia has a leadership problem. Far too many of our politicians are a disgrace. To address our leadership problem the tribe of young people I have surrounded myself with have reached out to other bright young minds in the agriculture sector ( and there is no shortage of them) to create a new agriculture grass roots youth led leadership model. Its called Cultivate- Empowering Influencers.

Initially it is a partnership between the Youth Voices Leadership Team of the Young Farming Champions and the NFF2030 leaders who advocate under the banner of This is Aus Ag . That partnership will grow. Its a model based on collaboration. Its a model for the bright future of agriculture and this country as a whole.

However not everything is rosy – its time my generation stepped up. I have found agriculture’s squeaky wheels are determined that anybody who advocates on their behalf must be resilient and the friendly fire to help you do that can be vicious.  Agriculture has far too many people who sit on the sidelines and criticise.  If you don’t think the people who lead your organisation are delivering then do something about it besides whinge.

Cat Timeline

Ht Jo

Lets start with investing in our young people to ensure they have the capacity to lead within the highly complex supply chain vagaries of the 21st century.

What skills do they need?.

Do we have programs that meet those needs?.

Do we have the support networks and the people within those networks who can mentor, inspire, coach and connect them with other like minded thinkers?

If not invest your valuable time ensuring we do.  Decide what your legacy will be. Are the people in your tribe supporting a positive future for agriculture or they contributing to the friendly fire.

Crtic Talker Doer

Ht Anika

Are you part of a youth group that loves to collaborate with other bright young minds?

FYI The Youth Voices Leadership team and their collaborating partners are also working on a model for policy development immersion workshops and mentor support. They also have a number of new advocacy programs and school education programs incubating. Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are all in this together and we are #StrongerTogether

How does agriculture rebuild its fan base?

As a 6th generation farmer who has worked beyond the agriculture sector,  conversed with the bright minds in Getup and the World Wild Life Fund, designed and delivered 21st century learning agricultural and environmental awareness programs for schools I am very grateful for all the community insights meeting people in those sectors has given me.

I know Australians love farmers, I know its actually very easy to attract young people to consider careers in agriculture. After all everyone wants to work in an industry that has all these attributes

  • Modern industry that is evolving
  • Massive opportunities for graduate roles compared with other industries which have much greater competition
  • Salaries that are highly competitive with other industries
  • Diverse career pathways that provide a sense of achievement
  • Multiple opportunities to make a positive impact on the world

I am going to put my armour on and list what I think are the two biggest barriers to agriculture moving forward

  1. Silo mentality – we all know that for our individual farming industries to thrive, agriculture as a whole has to thrive. I look forward to us putting the ‘collaboration is the key to success’ concept into action
  2. Farmers who sit on boards that value outputs above outcomes. Sadly it took a lot of dying fish to give us the crowds its time to build up our fan base again

To get the best return on investment the Gold Standard is measuring Impact. My experience working with farmer boards is they are outputs focused.

Outputs and Outcomes

We are all in this together Australia. Farmers do care.  What we have to learn to do better is listen.

So how do we rebuild our fan base ?

Like a lot of farmers I am inspired by Jacinda Ardern’s concept of reporting on a Well-Being Budget .

“This year, for the first time, we will be undertaking a well-being budget, where we’re embedding that notion of making decisions that aren’t just about growth for growth’s sake, but how are our people faring? How is their overall well-being and their mental health … how is our environment doing? These are the measures that will give us a true measure of our success.” Jacinda Ardern

Lets show everyone how Australian farmers underpin the health, wealth and happiness of Australian families

Well done Nicole McDonald – captured beautifully with this HT to Dorethea McKellar

Nicole McDonld