About art4agriculturechat

This blog will share farming stories from our family farm Clover Hill Dairies. What you will discover however is that farming today is so much more that growing food and fibre. By opening the door to my role in our family business I am hoping you will gain greater insights into the passion and committment of the people and the places behind the land that produces our food and hands that grow it

Nobody is perfect – least of all me

I am a big fan of Will Marre and look forward to having the opportunity to participate in person in one of his seminars.

My post today is a section of his latest newsletter. Its good advice for me and I hope you enjoy it too


Nobody is perfect . . . at least not by our personal standard of perfection. The most we get in life in anything that we seek is 80% of what we believe we want.  If we are getting 100%, it won’t last. But 80% is a lot.  It’s all we need to be happy and loving.

When we fall in love all that we see is the 80% that we are crazy about.  We ignore the other 20% of annoying habits.  We create the illusion that we have found the perfect person. This wonderful illusion drives us to constantly ask ourselves what can I do to make this person happy. We become faucets of kindness, patience and thoughtfulness. We literally create an ecology of love.

But over time, when the love-fog caused by dopamine and serotonin lifts due to the realities and challenges of life, it is common to start focusing on the 20% of the perceived flaws, faults and imperfections of our beloved.  It isn’t that they have changed. Rather it is how we view them that has changed.  Instead of a faucet, we become a drain.  The whirlpool effect is caused by either silent or vocal judgments, impatience, and criticism.  And what was once sacred can become profane.  Instead of asking “What can I do to make the person I love happy?” we focus on what they can do to make us happy.

Love is verb.  It is what we do that creates love.  The feeling of love is the outcome of a choice to be irrationally positive about the people you deeply love.  Nobody wants to be viewed realistically.  We all want to be valued.  We all need people in our lives who see our highest and best self. And we need to see the highest and best of others. Committing to love someone’s 80% of their best self, and choosing to ignore the 20% of their unfinished self, is a sacred choice.

One last thing.  Finding someone who is 80% perfect for you as a friend or partner is neither easy nor simple.  There’re many people who aren’t even 20% perfect for you.

So, choose carefully.  But as John Legend sings someone’s imperfections are likely to be perfect just for you.

Be the love you seek.



Creating a buzz around careers in agriculture

Young people who work in the agriculture sector love what they do, they are proud of what they do and they want to inspire other your people to join them.

Getting that message out there has been traditionally tricky and inspired many Nuffield Scholar research projects. I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of scholars from both UK and Canada touring the world looking for initiatives that are kicking goals in this area.

Canadian Scholar Beck Parker has just published her report Inspiring Gen Z to Pursue Careers in Agriculture and Food Its a great read –

Some important learnings from her executive summary include

 Few Gen Zers know about the diversity of careers in agri-food. Many associate agri-food careers ONLY with primary production. Therefore, we must use an edu-marketing approach that focuses on marketing agriculture careers to youth using educational settings and programs. The edu-marketing tactics will build awareness, engagement and commitment to ag careers.

The steps are:

Step 1: Increase exposure of the agri-food sector and the diversity of opportunities available to the general population of youth

Step 2: Provide opportunities for youth to engage with careers through experiential learning (e.g. job shadows, co-op, etc.)

Step 3: Introduce mentors and ambassadors who can offer further positive influence to students who show an interest in agri-food careers

To fully address the labour shortage in agriculture, we need coordinated collaboration between education (schools & education organizations), youth development organizations, and the agrifood sector. Each stakeholder needs to play an essential role and work with the other(s) to ensure that the best possible programming is offered to Gen Z to encourage and inspire them to pursue careers in agri-food.

Collaboration draws on the strengths and resources of each stakeholder, resulting in educational initiatives and programs that excite and engage future agri-food employees.

Again and again this word collaboration comes up. Something we are yet to embrace in Australian agriculture – the capacity to, and realising the power of working together.

The Young Farming Champions (YFC) feature in Becky’s report and we have just published our 2016 YFC Annual Report. This year we had a strong focus on creating a buzz around Careers in Agriculture as part of The Archibull Prize. Becky will be very excited that our research and findings strongly mirror hers


Students were surveyed prior to and at the completion of The Archibull Prize and the results are staggering with a significant shift (from 19% to 52%) in students believing they have a sound knowledge of farming and agriculture.

At the beginning of The Archibull Prize primary school students struggled to identify more than two jobs within agriculture and most suggestions were vague and related to labouring jobs on farm. None of the primary students mentioned science or technical related jobs.

On completion of their projects for The Archibull Prize 64% of the primary students were easily able to nominate up to three different agricultural careers and the jobs they now thought of were more specific (crop duster, farm manager, fashion designer, wool classer etc). The career list also included science based careers such as agronomist, food scientist and veterinarian, which were absent from the entry survey.


AWI Young Farming Champion Dione Howard explores diversity of careers in the wool industry with Hurlstone Agricultural High School students

Similarly, in the survey prior to The Archibull Prize secondary school students also struggled to identify more than two farming or agricultural jobs, with less than 5% of jobs related to scientific roles. By the end however 30% of the jobs mentioned related to the sciences and other jobs were more specifically labelled. Examples of the range included animal nutritionist, rural real estate agent, crop consultant, geneticist, gin machine operator, horse trainer, banker, food engineer and dog trainer. “There are many other jobs apart from just farming in agriculture,” was one student comment. “You can do anything you want in agriculture,” was another.

Students reported that most of the information about careers in agriculture came from speaking to a Young Farming Champion. Also run by Art4Agriculture the Young Farming Champions Program takes young people working in, and passionate about, agriculture and gives them the skills to communicate and present their story to others. “We had a Young Farming Champion talk to us,” commented one secondary student. “She was an agronomist, which I didn’t know was a profession in agriculture.”


At The Archibull Awards Ceremony held in Sydney on 22nd November Mr Scott Hansen, Director General of the NSW Department of Primary Industries, also spoke of the assorted careers available. 


Samuel Carpenter from The Henry Lawson High School at Grenfell won the Professor Jim Pratley award for the case study that accurately portrayed a day in the life of an agronomist – a career he is actively planning for.

Are the Young Farming Champions inspiring young people to take up careers in agriculture. Yes they are and the success stories show the power of collaboration


Sharna Holman our first YFC who was inspired to follow a career in cotton pathway by a collaboration between Art4Agriculture, RAS of NSW and Cotton Australia

and its creating a domino effect – Sharna has now inspired Emma Longworth

I went to school at Muirfield High School and participated in Art4Agriculture’s The Archibull Prize Program in 2012 as well as the Sydney Royal Easter Show school’s display from 2013-2015. From these opportunities I was given, my passion for science and agriculture definitely commenced.

I graduated from Muirfield in 2015 with an atar of 95.65, 3rd place in the state for Primary Industries and 8th for Agriculture. I’ve always had a love for animals and outdoor adventures and so I followed my next door neighbour, Sharna Holman’s, footsteps by participating in these events and then pursuing a career in agriculture. Unlike Sharna, I chose to move to Armidale and study a Bachelor of Rural Science at UNE and have definitely had the best year of my life.







Advocacy – how to avoid the pitfalls

Over the last few months I have been invited to participate in some events that have significantly lifted my spirits and reinforced I am heading in the right direction.

One of those events led to me being invited to be a community Australia Day Ambassador. I must admit I was flabbergasted (and proud) when I asked what they wanted my key messages to the community to be in my speeches and conversations with people on the day. Wow, The Archibull Prize and the Young Farming Champions concept appears to have no end of value adds for communities right across Australia.

This blog is about the invitation I received from the Australian Women in Agriculture team. AWiA is nurturing 20 young women from the agriculture sector through their AGenHer initiative and those young women were invited to nominate 4 women in Agriculture  that they would like to do a webinar with.


It was an exciting invitation that I saw as an opportunity for me to hear from them

  • how can Agriculture better invest in its young people
  • what are the personal and professional development gaps for young people
  • how do young people in agriculture hone their newly learned skills in a safe environment
  • who should we be lobbying to help fill those gaps
  • who should be investing the $
  • and what are the safe environment vehicles and opportunities to hone their skills

But there was a trade-off before that conversation happened. The brief  was to firstly share a little bit about my journey and the background behind Art4Agriculture and why my wonderful team of Young Farming Champions do what they do.

My journey mmmmh – not a road I would wish on anybody – the positives yes but how do I help others avoid the nightmares

So as I always do these days I call on others in my life who are much wiser than me in these areas – my brilliant business coach Mike Logan and my very special mentor Zoe Routh

Zoe said talk about what its like to put forward a radical idea that you passionately believe has the best interests of agriculture at its core. A big idea that only a few will get from the beginning and how you bring people on the road to a successful and enduring roll out of that big idea .

So what did I say

I am a big believer in the saying

‘whilst young people may only be 20% of the population they are 100% of the future’


At Art4Agriculture our mission is to ensure that Australian agriculture is investing in its future.

We are harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of our young people to create a better future- for both agriculture and Australia.

We are helping our young people to be confident and independent thinkers

We are developing their talent and growing their ideas

We are creating a culture of collaboration and cooperation across industry sectors. We are throwing out the silo mentality that has been crippling agriculture for far too long

These skills not only benefit you as individuals they are absolutely critical for the food production systems that provide Australians with 93% of the food that is consumed in this country

Yes, the future of farmers in this country is really important to every single Australian who eats and wears clothes and benefits from all the social and environmental value adds that Australian farmers deliver

From a personal perspective, the reason I do what I do –  i.e. my “why” is

I am a proud farmer and I want my fellow farmers to be loud and proud too. But Australian agriculture hasn’t been traditionally good at sharing its story and I have made it my mission to change that culture. A new culture of communication and transparency and two way conversations

A new culture of selling hope not despair – agriculture has for far too long sold despair.  We sell it par excellence

The reality is – Hope attracts people – Despair repels them

I am big ideas person and often my big ideas have been perceived as quite radical

I am very grateful to the industries who have believed in my big ideas and supported them with funding.

My journey hasn’t been easy. There has been lots of blood, sweat and tears. Lots and lots and lots of tears

At a grassroots level, i.e. my peers – As a broad sweep generalisation women get my “why” They understand that it is pivotal for agriculture to be consumer focused

Men ( again broad sweep generalisation) tend not too – they have this mindset – ‘I am a farmer you should appreciate me’ – ‘Thank a farmer’

Our agricultural boards are stacked with men

So men control where the $ go

They are focused on research and development (R&D) and they don’t think that marketing and looking after our people and building their capacity is a high priority

They don’t see the elephant in the room and that is the biggest immediate threat to farmers’ livelihoods is negative consumer images and perceptions of modern farming practices and how we (the agriculture sector) can meet or exceed consumer expectations.

At an industry level, there is a silo mentality – farming industries in Australia don’t traditionally play well with each other. They compete. Very few people who work in our industry bodies come from farms. They have been to university and they are experts in their fields. They don’t want a farmer telling them how they should do their job.

So how did I cope with rejection after rejection?

One of the best pieces of advice I got in the beginning was to treat the word “no” as “almost yes” and never give up

I surrounded myself with people I could learn from. Interesting enough in the beginning the majority of those people were men.

If you are a big ideas person you tend to be tactical, the men I surrounded myself with have taught me to be strategic

I needed all the help I could get. I started my personal and professional development journey in my 50’s I had a lot of bad habits that I had to undo and personal demons I had to shake off

Note to self- start young

To quote the gorgeous Megan Rowlatt –


and that is truly the take home message I wish from the bottom of my heart these young women took away from the webinar

Don’t do it my way. My public face and my private life are polar opposites. I wasn’t in any shape or form ready to take on this journey  emotionally

I have no downtime. Getting the best outcomes for agriculture and particularly our young people in agriculture is all consuming and this crusade has taken a very heavy toll behind the scenes.

Resilience what’s that? Getting out of bed and putting on the brave face mask when you go out in public is exhausting. I love what I do but its one thing to have a big idea – its another thing entirely to have the emotional resilience to keep on doing it no matter who or what barriers you come across.

Love this little animation

I have taken Megan’s advice – I only wish I had done it 40 years ago.

2017 is the year I am investing in me and a big shout out to the wonderful people and scholarship providers who are helping me do this.

Take home message ‘Start your journey by investing in YOU





Young people in agriculture lobby for action on stuff that matters to them


I am a very different person to the person I was when I began my mission ten years ago to have my fellow farmers proud and loud of what they do and the industries they produce food and food and fibre for

I credit that change in the way I think and act to the young people I have met on my journey

I sell hope, they sell hope, together we have started a movement to create a new era of communication and transparency from the agricultural sector between farmers and the community. This allows farmers to raise awareness of the challenges they face to provide Australian families with safe, affordable and healthy food now and in the future.

Our programs and activities open the door for the community to ask questions and receive answers to questions on stuff that matters to them.

We do this because deep down our farmers feel unloved loved and undervalued. Our programs and activities provide matchmaking opportunities – a dating service if you like for farmers to connect with, and partner with the people in the community who love and appreciate them and people in the community who will love and appreciate them when they meet them

We do this by

  • designing and delivering events and activities through partnerships between young people in the agriculture sector and young people in schools using art and technology and two way conversations.
  • building capacity and the confidence of young people in the agriculture sector to share their story and deploy them using innovative vehicles such as The Archibull Prize to deliver agriculture’s key messages in a way that resonates with the audiences they reach with the mantra “People don’t care what you know until they know you care”

Whilst  I am very proud of this legacy, deep down its these young people that light my fire. On their journey they have developed the confidence and courage to share their story and lobby for action on stuff that matters to them

Let me introduce to Anika Molesworth and Kirsty McCormack – two young women in agriculture with a high profile in the media blazing a trail for us all

Farmers believe in climate change, so why don’t the politicians who say they represent them? 

“Anyone sitting in Parliament saying they represent rural and regional Australia should be figuring out how the decisions they make today are going to determine whether our farms are profitable in the years to come.”

“If we want something done about this then we need to do more than whisper across the back fence. It’s time to start shouting, and if our politicians fail to listen and catch up with the times then they risk being left behind.”  Anika Molesworth


Social Media for the future 

“We’re a generation who don’t want to sit down and read facts and figures, we want to hear from individual people, and hear their stories,” Kirsty McCormack


#youthinag #stuffthatmatters #YFC #ArchiullPrize

Pete Evans demonising cow’s milk but happy to sell it and profit from it

Pete Evans is a very interesting man as highlighted in this article Pete Evans is NOT a health professional  – reprinted in part below

For a man who is anti dairy – He suggests osteoporosis can be treated by removing dairy from your diet. I was quite flabbergasted to witness cows milk lined up  5 wide and 3 deep on the counter in the coffee shop inside his restaurant in Brisbane. Yes that’s 15 two litre containers on the counter – not refrigerated and fully exposed to sunlight. When I asked why it wasn’t refrigerated I was told “we sell it so fast”

Mmmh Pete Evans on one hand you demonise cows milk. On the other you are very happy to make a motza out of it and potentially risk people’s health by not storing it properly


EXCITING new health fads pop up each week, peddled by smiling celebrities promising to make our gut smaller, boobs bigger, dick longer, or even claim to cure cancer — but they rarely deliver.

Pete Evans is a good cook with a nice tan and great teeth, but he’s not a health professional.

The recognisable Aussie celebrity sports 1.5 million Facebook followers. Every time we click on his page we give him a voice, and he rewards us by continuing to cook up outlandish health advice.

He’s well spoken, dresses up his opinions with a smile, and people tend to believe him because he repeats his claims with confidence.

He states that sunscreen contains “poisonous chemicals”, but doesn’t list any of these chemicals or provide evidence where sunscreen has poisoned the majority of Australia’s population.

He suggests osteoporosis can be treated by removing dairy from your diet “as calcium from dairy can remove the calcium from your bones”.

His dangerous ideas, scaremongering statements and preposterous claims need to be backed up by solid evidence.

“The reality is that the public love people who give really fiddly, superficially plausible-sounding, very technical, dietary advice,” says medical doctor and academic from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University Ben Goldacre.

Dr Goldacre, in Australia on a speaking tour, says someone needs to be held responsible for those who peddle nonsense.

“You’re never going to have a world in which you can stop individuals from doing absurd things or making absurd claims, but you can have higher expectations of the systems,” he said.

A deluge of scientific-sounding health advice on our televisions makes it difficult to sift out fact from fiction, but finding out the truth really comes down to you.

Learning takes time, but it’s the only way to stop being a sucker for bad science. Be inquisitive and curious about your health. Ask questions, think critically and be prepared to change your view, depending on the evidence.

Seek out a qualified professional and don’t just believe the next miracle or quick-fix cure endorsed by a confident, conspiracy theorist celebrity.



The Climatarian diet – the challenges of producing food in a carbon constrained world

I am reprinting this article from Triple J Hack as I found it fascinating on many levels. I was also very pleased that they actually consulted Australia’s leading expert on livestock emissions, Professor Rich Eckard.

Pretty sobering to think that choosing your diet is a privilege for the 1%

The other thing that always makes me smile is the fact that so few people ask the question. “Why does pork,, chicken, eggs and dairy have a lower footprint?” Its simple intensive agriculture will always have a lower carbon footprint and the more intensive the lower the footprint.  So cattle grazing on vast rangelands logically have a larger footprint but they also play a very important role in managing the vast areas of land in Australia we cant grow crops on.

Rich Eckard is a pragmatist and its important that we take a leaf out of his book and look at the whole picture. Yes we should all eat less meat and  more vegies but that is just a small part of of the climate change mitigation toolkit

‘Less Meat, Less Heat’: could your diet save the planet from climate change? by Ange McCormack

Watching ads for Australian lamb – Lee Lin Chin snarling about “vegans” while a SWAT team torches a bunch of kale; the most diverse array of Australiansuniting over “the meat that doesn’t discriminate” – you’d be forgiven for thinking that eating lamb is an essential ingredient of Aussie patriotism. That not eating lamb would be bloody un-Australian.

Mark Pershin, founder and CEO of ‘Less Meat, Less Heat’ – an app which helps users map the carbon footprint of their diet – says Australians need to be more conscious of how their food choices are impacting the environment.

But is cutting down on meat just another act of middle-class back-patting that might not make any difference to the environment…at all?

Before you chalk this discussion up as another dose of unwelcome vegan evangelicalism (insert joke about vegans telling you they’re vegan here) – fear not.

Mark Pershin says his app isn’t aiming for all Australians to become vegans or vegetarians; he doesn’t want to convince devout carnivores that tempeh sausages are better than the real thing.

But he does want more Australians to take up what he’s calling the “Climatarian” diet.

How the Climatarian diet came about

After years of campaigning as a climate change activist, Mark Pershin’s app, the Climatarian Challenge, was released last week.

But let’s get into the origin story first.

Mark first started thinking more seriously about the environment after a near-death experience while holidaying in Malaysia.

“My drink was spiked, and the next thing I remember was waking up in hospital,” Mark told Hack.

“I’d been robbed and left for dead, basically. I’d either fallen or been thrown off a height, from 4 – 6 storeys high. The doctor said from my injuries, I had about a five per cent chance of surviving.

“The rest of the year I was being operated on, recovering, rehabilitating,” Mark says. “It gave me a lot of time to think.”

All of that thinking eventually led to The Climatarian Challenge, which encourages users to understand the carbon footprint of what they eat every day.

“People sign up to the app with a carbon budget of 8000 carbon points. Which is equivalent to 80kg of carbon dioxide emissions,” Mark explains.

“Over time they put in what they eat for breakfast lunch and dinner, the different types of meat and their portion sizes, and then it subtracts their carbon footprint from that meal.

“The goal is to stay within the carbon budget over 30 days.”

Mark says the aim of the app isn’t to shock users into ditching meat altogether. It’s all about moderation.

“Ultimately we’re not advocating for a vegetarian or a vegan diet, we’re advocating for a Climatarian diet. Which at the very minimum involves cutting back beef and lamb consumption to once a week.”

Beef is a massive offender for carbon emissions

According to Professor Richard Eckard, Director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre at the University of Melbourne, agriculture contributes to about 10 per cent of global gas emissions.

And most of that comes from producing red meat.


According to the UN’s Global Livestock Emissions Assessment model – which Mark uses as modelling for his app – producing beef is by far the worst offender for carbon emissions, compared to other animal products.

“People have been really surprised to learn how big of a carbon footprint beef and lamb have compared to all other types of meat,” Mark says.

“Once people realised we weren’t a vegan or vegetarian organisation, we found people were really open to that idea, and to actually learn about their various food choices.”

Mark says that consumers often feel helpless when thinking about climate change; reducing the amount of red meat is one of the easiest ways to make a tangible difference.

“We say that it’s the smallest change with the biggest impact of anything you can do.”

Choosing your diet is a privilege for the 1%

If you decide to take the Climatarian Challenge and reduce your diet’s carbon footprint – great job! But it means you’re part of a very narrow, very privileged part of the world’s population who can actually choose what they eat – according to Professor Richard Eckard from the University of Melbourne.

“The number of people in the world that have the privilege of choosing their diet is limited to about one per cent of the population,” Professor Eckard told Hack. “They are the affluent few that can actually have a choice over what they eat or don’t eat. The majority of the population just eat what they can get.”

Professor Eckard says that population divide is changing rapidly – and it’s creating more meat eaters, not less.

Ways you can reduce your diet’s carbon footprint, according to the Climatarian diet

  • Eat beef or lamb only once week
  • If you’re craving red meat, try Kangaroo – it produces far less carbon emissions
  • Save good quality meat for special occasions
  • Keep track of how much meat you’re consuming

“There is a rising middle class in the world coming out of those populations. That’s predicted to be about 4.6 billion people by about 2030,” Professor Eckard explains.

When those billions of people are wealthy enough to decide what they eat, they’ll want to include red meat in their diet, Professor Eckard says.

Put simply – the luxury of being able to eat red meat will mean more of the world will be eating it than ever before.

That one per cent of us who can already decide what we want to eat isn’t the problem; what those 4.6 billion people decide to eat is a MUCH bigger one.

And figuring out how to tell billions of people to keep eating rice and veggies – even when they can afford meat – isn’t easy.

So what’s the point of reducing red meat in your diet?

It’s easy to be a cynic. Professor Richard Eckard admits that the “privileged few” of us in the world who can choose to eat less meat aren’t going to solve climate change by ourselves.

But he says initiatives like The Climatarian Challenge are all vital pieces of a bigger picture.

“I think [awareness tools like The Climatarian Challenge] have a real purpose and I support them. And it’s not really because of what they actually end up doing. The more awareness we raise that you can reduce your personal greenhouse gas footprint – the more that message gets around to other people, the better. It’s the message of ‘this is something we need to take seriously’.

“It’s almost a communication tool more than anything else. Because that same person who takes up that app, they might also then say, ‘well I want solar panels on my roof, I want to be more sustainable’.”

  • Author Ange McCormack

The future has been Trumped

I am so devastated by Americans of my generations who have made the decision who should be their 45th president

I find it sacrilegious that  Americans of my generation would make a decision so opposed to the generation that has to live with the consequences

This is how the future said they voted – I rest my case


Kristina Keneally makes some very interesting points in this OP-ED piece in the Guardian “Who’s to blame for America’s first megalomaniac, celebrity president?”