Agriculture solving two of its biggest challenges together – greater adoption of precision agriculture and gender balance

In August last year following a number of conversations I wrote my first post announcing the launch of the Wise Women Project that would bring together big picture thinkers to support women and their allies to solve some of agriculture’s biggest challenges.

In the first instance we see an exciting opportunity to reframe gender balance as one of the century’s most obvious business opportunities. But first we have to acknowledge, understand and maximize the complementary differences between men and women. The challenge here is not to treat everyone equally and the same, but to treat everyone equally and different, with a deep understanding of what those differences are.

We need to look at the blueprints of our workplaces, to understand how the policies, processes, structures, employee behaviours, leaders, and culture in our workplaces can value women and their contributions

We started looking at ways we could tap into that as yet great untapped resource in agriculture – women

Women comprise 32% of workers in agriculture (ABARES, 2021). Women are 51% of the Australian population and bring valuable skills to a workforce, such as building empathetic innovation driven systems and early adoption of technology.

And we took on this challenge

And I know that a lot of people who have done the hard yards on this are going to be very excited to learn we are going to get a chance to see if we can make it happen

Watch this space

FYI

Books I am reading and referencing

  • Brandsplaining by Jane Cunningham and Philippa Roberts
  • The Fix by Michelle King
  • Seven Steps to Leading a Gender-Balanced Business by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox

 

Of all the sectors looking for workers agriculture is the only one that gets its own subject in the school curriculum. How cool is that. 

Job vacancies rose 18.5 per cent to hit a record of 396,100 in the three months to November 30 as employers embarked on a hiring spree at the end of the delta lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and the ACT, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported.

How is agriculture ensuring we are front of mind when young people make career choices?

How are we helping young people explore and connect with our sector.?

How are we supporting them to thrive when they get there?

At Action4Agriculture we have created an Action4Youth Workforce Strategy and Roadmap. It looks like this.

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Forever grateful to Professor Felicity Blackstock for helping us create our Action4Youth model

We have also identified there are numerous pain points on the journey that need addressing by the agriculture sector and the education system

There are a number of exciting people and organisations working in this space

One of those is  Scott Graham the current winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Secondary School Science Teachers

Scott is head of agriculture at Barker College. He is undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Emeritus Professor Jim Pratley et al

Last Monday I was one of 21 people who had the opportunity to listen to Scott’s HDR endorsement

This was a new opportunity for me and what I learnt gave me a lot to ruminate on

It reminded me to celebrate the advantages we have in the world of agriculture

There is a huge labour shortage out there “Employers wanted 400,000 workers before omicron hit”

And of all the sectors looking for workers agriculture is the only one that gets its own subject in the school curriculum. How cool is that. 

What Scott’s PhD is looking at is how do to we encourage more urban students to select agriculture as a subject with the ultimate aim they choose agricultural career pathways. Scott is ideally placed to research and report on this as he and Barker College have done a phenomenal job of the former and are keeping a close eye on the later

Barker College appears to be well and truly bucking the trend

Scott has identified the issues. Here is a few of them

At Action4Agriculture  we are complementing the work Scott is doing by tailoring our school programs to teachers and students NOT teaching/studying agriculture.  We are using similar principles to Scott and Barker College

Our programs are student-centred, individualised, contextual and culturally sensitive.

They involve key influencers, are accessible to all, can be targeted at specific groups when required and all evaluated for their effectiveness.

Students are mentored by our Young Farming Champions young people working in agriculture who are debunking stereotypes

  • Agriculture is not all Akubra’s and moleskins or mud and flies
  • 80% of jobs are off farm, 40% are in cities

Our Young Farming Champions represent the diversity of people in the agriculture sector. Students can see they are young people like them – they can be confident that they will fit in- that agriculture is a place where you feel identity safe.

What a great time to be on this journey with Scott with his research complementing our two year project with UNSW uni students working with BCG 

#action4youth #AGSTEMcareers

Agriculture and the “Leaders are Born Mindset” – why has it become part of our identity?

Its been a week of getting my confidence back by stepping up and saying yes to podcasts and interviews

Tonight I get to share my thoughts on leadership

Here is my leadership thought dump of other people’s ideas that resonate with me

Leadership is a process of influence to drive change

We can’t do it alone and we can do it in silos

We must join forces, share resources, skills, knowledge and experiences. Source Julie McAlpin RDA Sydney

I workshopped below with a number of bright minds who came to agriculture from the world beyond and put their toes in the water and went wow the disruptors are very brave people

Agriculture tends to have a “Leaders are Born Mindset”

This has been driven by agriculture’s traditional patriarchal culture where the first born son inherits the farm. This concept has been perpetuated for centuries.

It is a very deep-seated generational identity culture.

In this country women were not allowed to call themselves farmers in the census until 1994

In a sector where you are rewarded for learning to fit in and NOT challenge the status quo we are asking people to re-identify who we are as an industry and as people

Asking people to embrace the concept of “Leaders are Made” will be frightening for a lot of people

This has led to our traditional leadership programs being one off events with no clear pathway of what could be next

These programs are seen as “vehicles” to expose the “born leaders” and position them to fulfil their birth destiny.

and now to the work of the team from The Practice of Adaptive Leadership – Harvard Kennedy School 

How glorious is this concept

Leadership is an experimental art. We are all at the frontier.

Think of your life as a leadership laboratory. In that laboratory, you are continuously facing opportunities for learning how to be more effective in living a meaningful existence, and for making more progress on life’s deepest purposes and leading meaningful change.

Seeing life as a leadership lab enables you to try things out, make mistakes, strengthen your skills, and take pleasure in the journey as well as the fruits of your labour.

This from conversations with our wonderful Young Farming Champions

There is no one size fits all

Young people are doing it differently, the business model has changed

We don’t want to be part of “Old codgers organisations”

We want to ensure young people have a seat at the table

We want to ensure their voices are heard and valued

We can be shapers of “what might we be together”

Back to the brains trust that is the Adaptive Leadership team

The tools and tactics for leading adaptive change should be treated, we believe, in the same spirit as open source technology, made broadly available, so that people who lead adaptive change can learn from each other and improve their skills, and all of us improve our insights into practice.

Leadership for change demands inspiration and perspiration.

We present tools and tactics to lead and stay alive, to build up a sweat by inspiring others, to mobilize people to tackle tough problems while reaching high.

Our work begins with the assumption that there is no reason to exercise leadership, to have a courageous conversation with a boss or a spouse, for example, or to take a risk on a new idea, unless you care about something deeply. What outcome would make the effort and the risk worthwhile?

Trying to create something better from the current reality.

Growing tomorrow’s leaders today moving from reactive to future focused leadership

The practice of leadership, like the practice of medicine, involves two core processes:

  • diagnosis first and then
  • action.

 And those two processes unfold in two dimensions: toward the organizational or social system you are operating in and toward yourself. That is, you diagnose what is happening in your organization or community and take action to address the problems you have identified.

But to lead effectively, you also have to examine and take action toward yourself in the context of the challenge. In the midst of action, you have to be able to reflect on your own attitudes and behaviour to better calibrate your interventions into the complex dynamics of organizations and communities.

You need perspective on yourself as well as on the systemic context in which you operate. The process of diagnosis and action begins with data collection and problem identification (the what), moves through an interpretive stage (the why) and on to potential approaches to action as a series of interventions into the organization, community, or society (the what next).

Typically, the problem-solving process is iterative, moving back and forth among data collection, interpretation, and action.

Adaptive challenges can only be addressed through changes in people’s priorities, beliefs, habits, and loyalties.

Making progress requires going beyond any authoritative expertise to mobilize discovery, shedding entrenched ways, learning from mistakes, and generating the new capacity to thrive anew.

Just love people who wake up everyday to help us create a better world 

 

Advocacy at its worst – when agriculture chooses the divide and conquer route to market

When I got my latest email from the Australian Farm Institute this week  advertising their upcoming conference I couldn’t take it anymore and hit the unsubscribe  button

Our agri-politicans are a great example of how broken our political system is. Like our federal politicians they tend to follow the Allan Jones model and appeal to the prejudices of the masses

“The argumentum ad populum used in democratic political rhetoric can make political argumentation appear to be reason-based when it is not and subvert and undermine reason-based deliberation in democratic political argumentation.”(Douglas Walton, “Criteria of Rationality for Evaluating Democratic Public Rhetoric,” Talking Democracy, ed. by B. Fontana et al. Penn State, 2004)

Its the “them and us” model where farmers are pitched as victims,  and our state farming organisations are our white knights.

As an example when Agforce deleted their data  and lost their credibility in government they decided a roadshow with Peter Ridd was their advocacy model

Its too easy and so lazy to choose to pander to audiences by telling them what you think they want to hear.

This is not advocacy, this divide and conquer and it makes me cringe. Its time to rethink what advocacy looks like because Australian agriculture has some very serious human rights issues we should have addressed a long time ago.

We do have a choice

We can all work together and build a better world or we can focus on bettering our world

Who would you put on the podium if you wanted to hear from people who do advocacy well?

Beside the three very courageous women in the video above some names that come to mind for me

Cows Milk without cows. The birthplace of the Australian dairy industry is stepping up to answer the big questions.

The birthplace of the Australian dairy industry is stepping up to answer the big questions.

What will our rolling green hills look like in 50 years time if cellular agriculture means we can have all the nutrition cows’ milk provides without the cows ?


What will the view from my front verandah look like without the cows?

As a sixth generation dairy farmer this concept seems so far fetched but then so did the smart phone twenty years ago

We have a new council. They plan to make protection of rural lands a pillar. But what are we protecting the land from?

Is the science going to decide for us or are the property developers with deep pockets?

Where does the native flora and fauna fit into all of this?

We have an amazing opportunity to have our voices heard as part of the community consultation process for the new Local Environmental Plan.

I look forward to hearing the community’s hopes and dreams for the future

And what of our dairy farmers and the cows. What does Just Transition look like?

Me – I feel so passionately about Sam Archer’s vision I nominated hm for the 2014 Bob Hawke Landcare Award. Sam was runner up and like me retired from farming. Does that allow us to have the best of both worlds – inside and outside perspectives?

The ripple effects when good people do nothing

As I made very obvious in my previous post I am not a fan of people who operate like Barnaby Joyce

My experience  was just a small example of the behavior of politicians who believe they are all powerful

More than 10 years ago an extraordinary young woman who had been identified as a leading light sat at my kitchen table and told me her hopes and dreams.

When she told me all the people she was going to introduce herself to I cringed when she mentioned Barnaby Joyce’s name. Age gives you a wisdom you wish you could share with the world.

Catherine Marriott deserved better. We all deserve better. Its time to select people to represent us we can all be proud off.

Its time to stand up for everything that is good in this world

Show Catherine Marriot her courage matters. Vote for people with your values

We are all scared sometimes. Understanding why and having compassion is our only choice.

Like many, many people I have been struggling the last few months.

To help me I have reached out to my tribe and done a lot of reading. Its a scary when you read “13 Things Mentally Strong people don’t do” and you realise that you are prime example of how NOT to react.

I run a charity with a wonderful bunch of people. We are all volunteers. When you are doing something that you hope improves the lives of others it helps to get some sort of validation the work you do is having impact.

In a non COVID year our organisation is able to hold events that celebrate the extraordinary things our schools are doing. 

Before those events I usually tag along with our artwork judge the wonderful Wendy Taylor and visit the schools and see in person what they have achieved and how they are changing the world

I realise its this that I am missing so much.  I miss the teachers and students I so miss having Wendy in my life

I know external validation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s should be combined with internal validation. We need both to be healthy.

How do you ensure your internal validation????

How do you make friends with your feelings ???

How beautiful is this thoughtful piece on COVID and vaccination. And in human connection (ht Nikki Thompson)

The vaccinated people are scared.

They’re scared to get COVID.

They’re scared someone they love might get it and possibly die from it.

They were worried they might not get to travel again or see their international families.

They’re not ignorant or ‘sheeple’ (I loathe that term) – they feel like they’re doing the right thing for themselves and the people around them.

This may not have been an easy choice.

Unfortunately they might have felt obligated to do so.

They might have been scared to get the needle.

While you may not agree with them, it’s important to understand WHY these people have made their choice.

You may think they’re wrong, but I’m sure you’ve felt scared and afraid before.

It feels terrible.

We need to have compassion and empathy for people making a hard choice that’s different than yours.

 

The unvaccinated are scared.

They’re not inconsiderate monsters who thought “I’m going to try to screw over the rest of the people and not get my vaccine.”

They’re worried about long term side affects.

They’re worried about their immune systems.

They’re afraid of how much the government is stepping in on their personal choices, freedoms and rights.

They’re scared they might end up with Bells Palsy, myocarditis, shingles, blood clots, a miscarriage, a heart attack, heart palpitations, profuse unending vomiting, an autoimmune disease activation or death.

They’re worried they might never see their international families again.

It would be easier to get the shot. 

It isn’t easy to say no to the shot.

While you may not agree with them, it’s important to understand WHY these people have made their choice.

You may think they’re wrong, but I’m sure you’ve felt scared and afraid before.

It feels terrible.

We need to have compassion and empathy for people making a hard choice that’s different than yours.

 

This is NOT the time to turn on each other.

It is never the time to do that.

Stop the divide.

Come together with compassion, empathy, understanding, patience and forgiveness.

Take a moment to listen without judgement.

Take time to see where the others are coming from. 

Everyone is doing their best.

Lashing out and placing blame will only make things worse.

Shaming is not the way to change someone’s mind.

Understanding why and having compassion is our only choice.

 

Choose kindness, always ✨

HumanKind. Be Both.

Are you curious about how greater investment in innovative and cost-effective programs will empower farmers?

We are all searching for meaning – to live a life that matters to us and the world around us

Twenty years ago when I was struggling to figure out what that meant for me and I discovered that I was never ever going to be any good at milking cows I went on a journey to find out how I could be use my skills to do some good.

I found the journey never ends as we learn more and more about the world we live in

In 2009 the programs I was designing moved from being  delivered by “me” to “we”.  (Ever grateful to my mentors, coaches, true believers and the very courageous who stand in the arena with me.)

When we started to identify and train young people in the agriculture sector to be the face of our programs and role models of who you can be in agriculture we soon realised we needed to go beyond training them to be confident communicators and trusted voices and support them with all the other things that help develop “human capital

We began to look at moving beyond skills development, training and education to include more abstract aspects such as self-esteem, empowerment, creativity, increased awareness and mindsets.

When the industry you work in doesn’t have a leadership capacity building framework all we could do was experiment and see what worked and what didn’t.

We also discovered whilst our programs fell into the workforce “Attract-Train-Retain” space, agriculture doesn’t have a workforce strategy either .

Our work has been one big experiment and lots of little ones. We are entering exciting times with increasing interest and invitations to write the story of our journey and publish the learnings from 10 years of collecting unique data sets

We now have a big picture goal to understand how to best support the Australian agriculture sector to develop human capital through a variety of initiatives.

Our farmers increasingly face disruptive changes, including a rise in digital technologies, rigorous food safety requirements, shifting diets, climate change and global pandemics.

Keeping pace with this rapidly changing environment requires farmers to have a stronger capacity to analyse, innovate and respond, while managing their own farm businesses. If we want to transform our agri-food systems to be more productive, sustainable, inclusive and equitable, we need to invest in the people behind them.

Investing in farmers can contribute to autonomy, empowerment and economic development, and is key to successful agriculture and rural development policies.

Yet very little attention has been paid to investing in agriculture human capital over the last decade or so.

In fact less than 3 percent of global agriculture development finance between 2015 and 2018 was invested specifically in strengthening the skills and capacities of agricultural producers.

We look forward to showing how greater investment in innovative and cost-effective programs will result in new technical and business capacities and skills and empowered farmers. This in turn will lead to increased incomes, yields and the inclusion of the previously marginalised groups of indigenous farmers, women and youth .

If this is a space that excites you too – we are always looking for collaborators

#BigGoalBreakthrough

 

 

 

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??

Is agriculture spending enough time thinking about who our customers are and what they are becoming

Women represent 56% of graduates of agricultural science university courses yet Young Farming Champion,  Australian Young Farmer of the Year and co-owner of Summit Ag Agronomy Emma Ayliffe tells me she can count on one hand the number of female agronomists over 35 working fulltime.

Emma is 30 and it will be interesting for her to reflect back on the agronomy sector in 10-15 years time and see if this is still the case

Research shows that the previous generation of women who decided they had to make a choice between career and children chose children. This generation of women are choosing career.

To learn as much as I can about why current agricultural sector workplaces are not meeting the wants and needs of women over 35 I have been doing a lot of reading and learning a lot.

The research tells me

We need to look at the blueprints of our workplaces, to understand how the policies, processes, structures, employee behaviours, leaders, and culture in our workplaces can value women and their contributions 

My reading has also opened my eyes to the importance of the language we use when promoting the sector to next gen agriculturalists and next gen consumers. Speaking of next gen consumers did you know 80%  of purchases made today are by women. So women are important for both talent management and the business bottom line.

In today’s world we are led to believe men have an unwavering belief in the machine – the ability of technology to solve the world’s problems. Women on the other hand see people as our greatest resource and women around the world are standing up to save the planet.

As our board is all female and the majority of consultants we work with are also female, it’s very important to us that the language we use appeals to all genders

The ultimate challenge of gender bilingualism, both in terms of understanding consumers better and of better talent management, is a skill we can all learn.

During a recent strategic planning meeting our all female board were comfortable with this description of how to promote careers in agriculture as an opportunity to:

  • make a humanitarian/environmental difference locally and globally
  • build capacity to act on issues that are important to regional communities and
  • have a positive impact on the lives of others

On learning about gender bilingualism and reflecting on the previous version below ( written by a male consultant)  I felt this version might have  broader appeal. What do you think?

Promoting agriculture as an exciting industry:  

  • where innovation, disruption and creativity are fostered,
  • where careers with purpose can grow limitlessly and
  • where partnerships across sectors are encouraged and nurtured

Our industry is changing. I often find myself having conversations with people in the livestock sectors who are bewildered that livestock industries are attracting  young women 2:1 where as young men are attracted to cropping industries.

I have always been concerned that the Australian dairy industry has an over reliance on promoting the high level of technology in the industry and a reticence  to talk about its huge environmental gains

There is an exciting opportunity to reframe gender balance as one of the century’s most obvious business opportunities. But first we have to acknowledge, understand and maximize the complementary differences between men and women. The challenge here is not to treat everyone equally and the same, but to treat everyone equally and different, with a deep understanding of what those differences are.

With so many opportunities in our sector its the perfect time to thinking about who our customers are and what they care about.

Books I am reading and referencing

  • Brandsplaining by Jane Cunningham and Philippa Roberts
  • The Fix by Michelle King
  • Seven Steps to Leading a Gender-Balanced Business by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox

.