Who are your champions of change?

‘If not us, who? If not now, when?’

I have spent the year watching a number of very courageous women tackle a very insidious system and I am reflecting on what it must take to have the resilience to wake up every day and do it again and again until you are confident that change will happen

I look at women like Louise Milligan and Adele Ferguson and I see employers who support them

I see women like Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame and my heart bleeds for them such extraordinary courage and I hope resilience

I see women like Catherine Marriott and wonder why rural and regional Australia and The National Party continues to enable her alleged abuser.

One of my standout Champions of Change is Cathy McGowan. She has become my role model for change. Yesterday she agreed to run a workshop that will support our Young Farming Champions to truly live their values.

When you have a minute listen to two more courageous women truly live their values

Zoe Daniels and Sam Mostyn ask

‘If not us, who? If not now, when?’

In this podcast Independent candidate for Goldstein, Zoe Daniel, and President of Chief Executive Women, Sam Mostyn discuss the shocking revelations uncovered in Kate Jenkin’s independent inquiry into Parliament House culture.

 

 

What if Charlie Bell hadnt said yes to the McFlurry

Today I had the opportunity to participate in a briefing of a program agriculture is currently rolling out

What was beautiful was how proud the people who work in the industry are of it

What was scary is the model is exactly what I presented to that industry 12 plus years ago. The model wasn’t my original idea, it was something I adapted for Australia from a successful model from the US

I am shortly catching up with some-one very special in my life. Gaye is a  very interesting contrast to my journey. Gaye is the girl who bought the McFlurry to Australia.

The McFlurry isnt her idea, it was something she saw in the US and thought Australians would love it. How right she was

Its a beautiful thing to hear Gaye talk about Charlie Bell who was the CEO of Maccas when she was the CMO.  How it made such a difference to her career journey that Charlie believed in her and supported her when she presented big ideas. And when Charlie was in charge there was always a cohort of bright minds – so often he would say lets ask “Numbers” aka Steve Jermyn 

The industry body I was part of the briefing for today didn’t believe in my idea  12 plus years ago but there is no shortage of courageous people who did.

What is awesome is Charlie believed in Gaye and Gaye believes in me.

Hoping you have plenty of Charlies and Gayes in your life too

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Bell_(businessman)

Kindness – what does it look like to you. Who are your role models?

I sit on the Action4Agriculture board and we recently workshopped our values which our graphic artist is currently working his magic on to load on our web page

Our values are

The final wording is from board member Dr Jenni Metcalfe with inspiration for Kindness coming from the work of Brene Brown who says

“Clear is Kind. Unclear is Unkind.”

 

Brene clarifies her quote this way

We need braver leaders and more courageous cultures.

Why courage? and What’s getting in the way of building more daring cultures? Of the ten behaviors and cultural issues that leaders identified as barriers to courage, there was one issue that leaders ranked as the greatest concern: Avoiding tough conversations, including giving honest, productive feedback. Source 

My personal top two values are Courage and Making a Difference. Brene helped me realise I needed to spend more time walking my fear

As a life long avoider of tough conversations I am grateful to Brene, our board and the brave people I truly value who I have stepped up to have tough conversations with recently.

I found some of those people are like me and walk away rather than have them and others have role modelled to me what “Best practice” looks like. I thank them for helping me learn and grow and hopefully change

Don’t tell them why, Show them How

I am fascinated by what makes people tick.

I learnt a long time ago humans are feeling beings who also happen to think. We absorb information differently and we process it differently.

We are now at the point in OZ where the early adopters and some of the late adopters have got their vaccines.

My passion for life long learning saw me sign up for another of Changeologist Les Robinson’s Theory of Behavior Change workshops this week


Les reminded us if we want to drive behavior change its important to tailor the message for each demographic you are trying to reach to THEIR  specific needs, wants and pain points.

Its time to stop telling our later adopters and laggards WHY and show them HOW

Time for less facts – now matter how impressive they as the science tells us they will only create more resistance

Time for more compassion, less judgment

Lets show them HOW

What does HOW look like to you?

 

 

How do we make sustainable farming part of our DNA?

Agriculture is this country is starting to feel the societal pressures that food production should harness environmental good outcomes that European farmers have been experiencing for decades.

One would hope Europe’s experience would have given us the opportunity to show foresight and be prepared.

Quite the contrary as Gabrielle Chan shares in this excellent article   

“No Australian political party is doing serious thinking about how to knit together food, farming and environmental policies to continue feeding the population while mitigating climate change and biodiversity loss.”

In 2016 the United Nations announced the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that give every business including agriculture a global blueprint to guide our country’s activities towards a global collaborative achievement of sustainable development. The SDGs provide a ‘common language’ through which our rural industries can communicate domestically and globally, in alignment with world leaders on the SDG index as well as Australia’s major trading partners.

They also provide an extraordinary opportunity to develop a leadership capability framework to support the National Farmers Federation 2030 roadmap.

Leading change for a sustainable economy and planet has a huge focus in Europe yet big business in Australia is much slower to move into this space.

“The systemic pressures the world faces today mean that leadership simply cannot be the preserve of a ‘heroic’ few. Delivering the future we want will require organisations to cultivate leadership at all levels, and to embrace diverse and complementary strengths and approaches. The focus will be on developing collective leadership capacity, with individuals supported and inspired to deliver against their potential, and to contribute effectively within their personal strengths and role.”

Whilst progress on building the knowledge, thinking and practice around the new normal is very slow at government level our teachers are grasping the Sustainability Leadership mantle firmly ensuring our young people are going to be ready for the jobs of the future.

Meet Sana Said from Riverstone High School

By mapping our future leadership needs and deploying our people for  good, we have a significant opportunity to shape the food production agenda and deliver an equitable system for all.

There is also icing on the cake with a number of economic benefits from SDG reporting globally to be realised through enhancements to the natural environment.

  • FOOD WASTE: Potential to lower global costs of food waste for saving AUD $240 to $600B per year (20-30 per cent of food globally is wasted through post-harvest losses that are easy to prevent)
  • FOREST ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: Potential to lower Global costs of deforestation and forest degradation: AUD $200B to $550B per year (Deforestation and forest degradation which currently account for 17 per cent of global emissions
  • RENEWABLE ENERGY: Increase renewables’ share of energy generation worldwide could increase to 45 per cent by 2030 (from 23 per cent in 2014) (IRENA, 2014) Potential to lower global costs of non-renewable energy: AUD $250B to $900B

Thanks to Jo Eady from Rural Scope and Mark Paterson from Currie Communication for inspiration for this post

 

The climate crisis means farmers have to be prepared for the worst day every day

After being declared the windiest place in NSW in the last 48 hours like all  our farmers across the country our local dairy farmers have to be prepared for the worst day everyday. 

With no power for more that 48 hours I was mega grateful I had purchased these two power pack to walk Larapinta a number of years ago. They kept all the devices I needed to keep me safe and warm with no electricity

What was even more rewarding was despite 130km plus winds, rain and no power the dairy was still operating 24/7  milking the cows

On a dairy farm there is nothing more important than your cows and your team and a generator that will run the dairy using the tractor in a blackout is a MUST have on every dairy farm.

Some great info here on preparing for floods

Women in Agriculture – Its time for the invisible to be truly visible

I am a woman who has come to prominence in a man’s world

In 2012 I won agriculture’s most prestigious accolade the inaugural Bob Hawke Hawke Landcare Award

All the subsequent winners are men

In 2021 the inaugural winner of the 2020 General Jeffery Soil Health Award is a woman 

I am 100% confident that both of us are not a token gestures to gender  diversity, its a 100% acknowledgment that we are where the world sees agriculture as the place we should be heading

I am where I am today because a number of very special men supported my journey

But very few ( almost none ) put their hands up in a public space and say I am on Team Lynne and the work she does on behalf of the greater good is important work we can all champion.

My call to action to women everywhere in agriculture be proud of what you are doing

Shout your cause from the rooftops

Its time for the invisible to be truly visible

And its time to tell the men in our lives who think its good enough to pat you on the head and say “Go Girl” is no where near the ground breaking response that is required to drive real change.

What does Gender balance look like you to you??

The stories you tell, struggle to tell and the ones that get locked into a box

When our farm started doing things very differently ( like milking cows three times a day in a rainforest environment ) and winning awards people were very interested in our story.

I still get asked to tell my story often. For the last seven years I have suggested journalists tell the stories of the young people I work with.

Recently I have had a number of requests to tell the story about my commitment to the advancement of women and girls as it just so happens that 8 out 10 young people working with me putting their hands up to tell agriculture’s story are young women.

A recent request (and turning 65) had me thinking deeply about my journey. Looking for pictures and the process reminded me of things that had slipped my mind or things I was determined to put in a box and do my best never to open again.

Its doesn’t work that way does it?

The dark parts of your life you don’t talk about just tend to sit there and fester

As part of my deep dive into my journey I came across below. A Take Two story written by journalist Jodie Duffy for the Illawarra Mercury that morphed into a couple feature stories.

I remember the original interview. It was awkward both Michael and I were not quite sure what to share.

In 2021 it is this comment from Michael that stands out for me

Nick was always the centre of our lives and the day he started boarding school is one of our most harrowing moments.

It was the highlight of our week when he got off the train on Friday afternoons He always made sure he got home in time to help me finish in the dairy

I tell people I came back to my farming roots because Nick decided to join the business in 2001 after he finished school.

But that is not the whole story. In 2000 when Nick was completing the HSC the pharmacy I managed, which was open 14 hours a day was robbed a number of times by two masked men.

Instead of coming home to milk cows after a week at school Nick would come to the pharmacy to protect me. He turned out to be very impressive at data entry as well

I was grateful but also felt guilty that I was potentially putting my son at risk.

As it turned out it was always other people’s children who were ever only going to be at risk

When the robbers were finally caught I discovered there was a good reason they didn’t hold up the pharmacy when I was working. That was because I knew them both and they knew I would recognise their voices.

You often don’t know how much you are being impacted by traumatic events  happening around you until you reach the tipping point

One of the robbers was a long term customer of the pharmacy and he was injured in the police pursuit that eventually caught him. The hospital asked him what medication he was on. He told the hospital to ring me.

That was the day I lost it.

Those robberies fueled by the long term drug habits of two young men  impacted so many lives. The beautiful young people I worked with, everyone who worked in the pharmacy and their families and my family

My family tried so hard but we never really moved on. No matter how hard you try you cant put the bad in a box and pretend it never happened.

I am a very different person today. The confident persona is a façade.

You don’t get a second chance to rob me of my soul.

When I feel undervalued I tell you and I don’t do forgiveness.

TAKE TWO – by Jodie Duffy

Lynne

I met Michael when I was 18 He came to Jamberoo with his brother to play football. The local paper did a profile on him and when I saw his picture I said “wow I’ve got to meet this guy”

A mutual acquaintance lined up a blind date for the Jamberoo Footballers Ball – the social event of the year in those days. Michael had injured his ankle @ training and spent the entire night with his foot in an esky of ice. This was probably a good thing as we didn’t realise until well into our relationship that Fred & Ginger we where not. Real life lived up to the photo and it was infatuation at first sight.  I went off to Uni and we spent every weekend together for the next 3 years. My girlfriends called Michael – HT. He is still my heartthrob 30 years later.

We got engaged when I was 21 and married as soon as I finished Uni

When we first got married Michael had a 7am -3pm job. When he was approached to manage the farm @ Clover Hill we both drifted into doing 14 hours shifts

When our son Nick was born 5 years later; he spent the greater part of his younger years with Michael on the farm. We had four sisters living next to us and they became his pseudo grandmothers. I still worked 14 hour shifts and was pretty much an absentee mum. When Nick went to boarding school we grew much closer

Whilst Nick was a boarding school Michael and I ensured we had as many weekends off as possible. Nick played a lot of sport and it was great to watch & support him @ weekends.

Nick skied competitively and we went to Canada every Christmas holidays so Nick could train. This was a wonderful time in our lives. In 2000 the deregulation of the dairy industry had a huge impact on our dairying business. This was the defining moment that bought us all back to the farm. It works really well, we complement each others skills. Nick has been managing the business for the last 4 years and became a partner in June. Nick is a 7th generation dairy farmer. My family has been dairying in Australia since 1831 and Michael’s since the 1860’s

My father was a reluctant dairy farmer and always said- Lynne whatever you do never learn to milk a cow. I have followed his instructions implicitly. There is so much more to do on a dairy farm than milk cows. The role that gives me the most satisfaction is looking after the calves. You are working every day with between 30 to 40 living breathing little things that rely on you totally. I recently had to get the vet to euthanize one of my calves. It was almost as heartbreaking for him as it was for me

Michael is the family’s quiet achiever. He is crazy about his cows. His great passion is watching them compete in the show ring. He lives from show to show. At the moment an accident he had in December has kept him out of the ring and this part of his life has been put on hold. You can tell he misses it desperately

I see my role in the industry differently to Michael. I feel it is critical that agriculture has high profile. It is important to constantly remind people we produce the food of life.

Michael

I really cherish the moments Lynne & I had together when we first met. As I get older I am constantly reminded how much she means to me.  When Nick was little I was able to fit my work schedule around the important moments in his life. I took him to school every-morning He would spend his afternoons with our next door neighbours who lived adjacent to the dairy and he would sneak across to the dairy whenever he could

When he started to play football I started the afternoon milking earlier so I could coach his team

Nick was always the centre of our lives and the day he started boarding school is one of our most harrowing moments.

It was the highlight of our week when he got off the train on Friday afternoons He always made sure he got home in time to help me finish in the dairy

Lynne always organised her days off so she could help me show our stud cattle As a girl she had shown horses and was a deft hand at putting the finishing touches on the cows as they went into ring. Nick shares our passion for showing. It is truly rewarding to watch your child follow in your footsteps

As a family we have shared all the highlights and watched our show team grow to a point where they are nationally competitive

Life on the land is a roller coaster. We reinvent our business (and sometimes our selves) every year – whatever it takes to make it successful The business plan is definitely a dynamic document

Deregulation was the turning point in our lives. The big positive is we get to work together as a family every day doing something we all think makes a difference

A state of chaos is the normal in most years in the dairy industry

In my quest to collect information and data about how we can best support  women in rural and regional Australia through The Wise Women Project, I interviewed Australian Rural Consultant of the Year Dr Neil Moss

Neil was, as always very pragmatic, and it was this statement that was a wake-up call for me.

On reflecting on the 20 plus years Neil has been consulting to dairy farmers he said

“A state of chaos is the normal in most years in the dairy industry”

Chaos and disruption is normal. Our reflections on the past and what we consider “normal” are often blinded by our experiences of our early and formative years in agriculture. Those that became agricultural aware in the 50’s or 70’s reflect on the wetter times being the normal. I became “agriculturally aware” on the Monaro in the early 80s when my parents moved to Dalgety and bought the general store- my perception of normal is some degree of drought interspersed with occasional but appreciated wet times. The world was different – we were protected by more favourable terms of trade, lower land values and in some industries quota and floor prices. Many farmers continued to innovate and move forward during and since those times but some have stood still.

No business is immune from change and this is not unique to agriculture. Costs have risen, terms of trade have declined, land values have escalated dramatically and our need to be more efficient, that is, to get more from less, has only become more acute. Stocking rates have had to rise to keep pace, expectations of higher productivity continue and as a result, whether or not you accept the science of climate change, all farms are more exposed to drought and climate risk than they ever have been before.  These are the messages that we need to get out. Farmers need to be adopting technology, innovation, improvements in management, improvements in efficiency, improvements in resource use efficiency.

These conversations can be coupled with conversations about sustainability, the reality of carbon cycling in agriculture, emissions intensity, sustainable intensification and animal wellbeing. These factors should not be viewed as being mutually exclusive with productivity, profitability and resilience- the opposite is the true reality.

On the question of genuine financial literacy and valuing everyone in the business 

Returns in agriculture need to be carefully considered. While income is important, asset growth and wealth creation need to be factored, as well as the people who are contributing both paid and in-kind labour as well as founding capital. Unfortunately, in many cases no individual is getting income paid directly – It’s just declared as co-drawings. This can make things like tracking or contributing superannuation or other entitlements, generally taken for granted outside of agriculture, very problematic.

Ideally, all businesses should factor in labour costs and pay staff whether they be family or not

It is a critical conversation to have when you’re looking at whether a business is viable in the first place. If your business doesn’t provide for labour costs, then there is risk that what  you may be doing is effectively  indulging a hobby farming career.

When we look at this there are two things to consider

  1. Diligence when people are establishing and reviewing the business objectively to also apply a proper wage structures, to all people that are contributing. Otherwise, you are not acknowledging opportunity lost costs of all those involved.
  2. And secondarily, when we are talking about technology and innovation:
    • Identify how the technology can help and also what are its costs and requirements such as training and integration into the whole farm system that need to be considered
    • Identify who are the drivers of the adoption and uptake of technology on farms?

On the question of the adoption of technology

Frequently, it’s the women that are more engaged in exploring and bringing new technology to the farm and suggesting where it fits in. Women often have a capacity to sit back, look and say, “Well, why are you doing it that way? Maybe there is a better way and I’m going to go out and find it.”

Whereas quite often, and certainly not always, (there are great examples of technology being adopted by all genders), males can get locked into a “that’s how we do it, that’s how dad did it, that’s how we’re going to keep doing it” mindset.

It is important to not just talk about technology, it’s important we talk about adoption of change in management practices as well as technology, that reflects new knowledge in how things can be done. Quite often we do not need a new gadget or machine, just a review of how things are done and processes in light of the ever evolving on and off farm innovation that is occurring across the world- we are so much better connected these days to world-wide innovation, and it is often women that drive and thrive with this connectivity and approach to critical thinking.

It is important to conduct studies rather than rely on the anecdotal information because the people who are already having these conversations are often working with the progressive or aspirational farmers who are already on the innovation wave or are looking to get on board and wanting to do better.

We need to better understand why some farmers embrace and move forward with technology and innovation and some chose not to.

Questions we should be asking

  • Who is adopting the technology,
  • Are they using it to its best advantage?
  • What are they doing with the data that they’re collecting?
  • Where do you get your information on technology?
  • How is that information communicated to you?
  • Who in the farm team is responsible for bringing it to the table?
  • What processes of review do you have before adopting a technology?
  • What are the real barriers to technology and change being taken up- is it capital, culture, consensus, access, training or poor explanation of potential benefits and across business synergies?

On the question of the importance of a commitment to lifelong learning 

We all know many very successful people who do not have a tertiary education- a university degree or similar is not a pre-requisite for success!  However, many of the most successful farmers I am lucky enough to work with adopt a lifelong approach to ongoing continuing education, and learning, albeit less structured. These farmers understand the drivers of their business, they appreciate the critical importance of timing and decisiveness, they understand and manage their key risks and they continue to update skills and knowledge. A profitable and resilient industry needs farming management teams that consider all of this.

In the wake of some of the recent natural disasters I have been doing some recovery work with farms that have been less exposed to both broader industry extension efforts and use of consultants. Irrespective of the real devastation that they had experienced, the failure of either delivery or uptake of messaging and practices that many farmers and advisers consider as basics and fundamentals was deeply concerning. We need to find better ways to connect innovation and technology right across the broad spectrum of aspiration and ambition

On the question of how do we inspire change 

To inspire change the industry has used role models and it has had various programs. The issue I see is the industry continues to preach to the converted. You have the same 30% of farms that attend 90% of the structured education extension offerings.

There is a large component of industry that will never embrace or adopt change, time  or the next natural disaster or industry price shock will unfortunately catch up with many of these business.

Concerning as it is we may need to accept that it doesn’t matter how hard or what we try and do, there’s going to be many farms that are never going to or want to progress-and that is ok and that is absolutely their choice.

There just must be an acceptance of that.

While the Australian public is in general deeply supportive of agriculture and farmers, the tolerance towards repeated bail outs and support packages may be wearing thin. There is a need to be honest and transparent with the farming sector that next time there is a drought or a price shock, if they haven’t gone out and upskilled, and improved, and taken the opportunities that are there to make their business more resilient, then the public’s tolerance and acceptance of taxpayer funded bail-outs being delivered are being continually eroded

Very few farming businesses are optimized and there is existing and evolving technologies and management changes  that can continue to improve efficiency and resilience. People must look on their side of the farm gate first, assess and challenge the operations and structures in their business and see what they can adopt and how they can improve management and adopt technology, and just not blame the milk price next time something goes wrong. This is not to say that issues around inappropriate milk pricing structures should remain uncontested when they do occur as has recently been the case.

This wise woman is very grateful to have this very wise man in her life – thank you Neil