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





My favourite books

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What do you do to relax ?

What does peaceful and calm look like to you.?

I can guarantee I never look peaceful and calm.  I know insomnia is my best inspiration.  I do enjoy reading and so do my friends. I love to hear what other people enjoy reading.

I am going to regularly update this post with books that have left a memorable impression on me this year with the most memorable being the first five in my list and the others, books I enjoyed.

I would love to know what you enjoy reading.

  1. Leaders Who Ask by Corrinne Armour –  I am a strong believer in the Growth mindset  which is the belief that talents and abilities can be developed over time; that there is a potential to foster new skills in yourself and others. This book has done wonders for my soul and helped me say piss off to my inner critic who previously sucked far too much of my oxygen. This book has increased my drive to surround myself with people who can help me grow and pay it forward
  2. Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee  totally agree with this review ‘Brutal, brave and utterly compelling . . . I can’t remember a book I devoured with such intensity, nor one that moved me so profoundly’ Rebecca Starford. I  strongly recommend that John Howard and Tony Abbott read it
  3.  The Rosie Result  –  by ​Graeme Simsion This review sums up the book perfectly for me ‘The Rosie Result is a handbook for those who believe the world can be organised by rationality. It is, above all, sensible. Simsion indexes many of the fads currently piercing the stately fabric woven by Team Enlightenment. Homeopathy, non-vaccinaters, mouthy sports parents, 25-year-olds with psychology degrees let loose on the public, junk food, veganism, teachers and others who unthinkingly label, education in general, all get a run. And men.’
  4. Tin Man by Sarah Winman. I learnt alot about myself reading this book.
  5. Rusted Off by Gabrielle Chan. This book gave the whole concept of a rural/urban divide genuine perspective for me and how out of touch so many of our career politicians are


Ideas for Careers Media Wall


6. The Scholar by Dervla McTiernan – I like this genre and I loved Dervla’s debut novel  The Ruin which I read last year. Dervla McTiernan is a lawyer from Galway, who moved  Western Australia following the global financial crisis of 2008.

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.

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

What sort of person professes to love animals yet abuses people?

Yesterday I saw this tweet from Fiona Simson in my feed. In made me feel sick in the stomach

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What sort of person professes to love animals yet seems to think that gives them a licence to abuse people?

The next issue of RM Williams Outback Magazine will share Fiona Simson’s story. I am looking forward to it. She fascinates me. What sort of resilience does it take to be president of the National Farmers Federation? What sort of resilience does it take to be on her team? How often does agriculture say thank you to these people?

Also in my feed yesterday was a fabulous quote from Young Farming Champion Jasmine Whitten tagging the people she values in her circle. I know lots of young people like Jasmine and I am very grateful they are in my circle.


Fiona must have a huge circle of support as well because she is one very brave, courageous woman.

Looking forward to 2019 being the year we #culitivatekindness #strongertogether