Catherine Marriott’s spirit is strong. Her courage extraordinary. We #standwithMaz

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The Marriotts – a family of legends – courage personified 

As Australians across the country rally to #standwithMaz by tuning into ABCLandline today to watch Catherine Marriott on the Pardoo Station segment  I am reflecting on the  positives of Catherine’s bravery in taking a stance against inappropriate behaviour towards women by people in powerful positions.  It has highlighted the courage of women in the agriculture sector and unified the sector with a collaborative call to action from both men and women, organisations, business and the community.

I remain stunned anyone would question the timing of the complaint. As I said in a previous post I have no idea what I would do. In the first instance I would want to be 100% confident of my family support, support of friends and knowing my networks have my back. Catherine Marriott has all of those in spades.

Then I would think about self care. Like many others, I too have been bullied on Twitter. I have seen how tough it can be at a political level. I remember vividly walking into a national meeting in Melbourne of a NSW industry  group I was representing. The first thing that happened was been taken into a corner by one of the other women in the room who said I hope you wore your armour, women on committees in our industry in Victoria are only seen to be here to serve the tea and scones. She was right it was very unpleasant. I didn’t last long.

Quoting National Farmers Federation President Fiona Simson from this article Barnaby Joyce leak shocks rural women amid sexual harassment investigation it should be obvious to everyone why I believe people don’t just automatically walk into police stations

“I think some of it is not understanding what is acceptable and feeling maybe a little bit guilty about calling some of it out. But I also think there is a bit of fear around what the repercussions are going to be.”

“Am I going to be trolled if it’s on social media? Am I going to be outed in the workplace? Am I going to lose my job, am I going to be able to progress on the career path that I’m on?”

Catherine Marriott’s recent media statement reiterates this

“This complaint was made not only to address the incident against me — it was about speaking up against inappropriate behaviour by people in powerful positions,” she said.

“Suggestions to the contrary are hurtful, incorrect and the very reason why I hesitated to come forward at the time of the incident.

“Speculation on this issue by people who are unaware of the facts is impacting my right to a fair and due process. The additional stress of having to go through this publicly and with people’s judgement is the exact reason people don’t come forward.”

Self care has to be the number one priority.  Catherine’s bravery has provided an opportunity for our rural champions to come out in force saying to other courageous women we are here for you, we will support you and we will lobby to ensure that courageous women (and men) get the pastoral care they deserve as well as fair and due process  

Catherine Marriott’s spirit is strong. Her courage extraordinary. We #standwithMaz #solidarity4Catherine #strongertogether #strongwomen




Leadership reflections. Be good to yourself. Life is short. Live it with joy.

International Womens Day (IDW) 2005 was a pivotal point in my life journey. When I got the call to tell me I was the inaugural Kiama IWD Electorate Women of the Year, I was thrilled, I was flabbergasted, and I had a huge dose of imposter syndrome. It was the imposter syndrome that weighed heavily so I set the bar high for myself and was determined to live up to award and so the journey began.

This is a post for everyone out there fighting the good fight, spending a lot of time questioning themselves, feeling a bit (very) jaded, and keen to get their mojo back.

I woke up yesterday morning to see this post from Airlie Trescowthick founder of Farm Table . Airlie  started her post Thank you for inspiring me: 14 rural women I want to celebrate this IWD. with this preface

In celebration of International Women’s Day (8th March 2018), I wanted to take the time out to thank some women who have made an impact on me during my Farm Table journey so far.

 Some know me, some do not, but they have all inspired me and given me the confidence to develop, grow and take risks running my own business.

These women are running businesses and building solutions to issues and challenges we share across rural and agricultural industries. Starting up a business can be lonely and scary, particularly when in a rural area. But, with a network of like-minded and supportive women across the country, you are never truly alone.

Thank you, from me, and from all that you inspire.

Of the 14 people Airlie profiled I only know two personally and I look forward to the day I meet the other twelve. Wow

When I read Airlie’s profile on me – it generated a lot of reflection

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MMMh the ‘ultimate leader’. What is a leader. One thing I know for sure is what Airlie and her support team have created with Farm Table is nothing short of phenomenal and there is no way in the world I could have pulled it off. Super kudos to them

If leadership is creating a movement and being part of that movement. I can wear that hat. My style is not one that everyone is comfortable with and I have spent the last five years questioning it myself.

I’ve been called a leader for taking initiative, getting things done and standing my ground on big issues. My journey has taught me that results are not everything and leadership is not a solo activity.  It’s something that you do with people, not despite people. To be a successful leader we also need to work on how we engage to get those results. One of the things I’ve been working on is developing my style to build stronger relationships because relationships are everything. We always need to be thinking about how we can improve, how can we learn, and to take every leadership opportunity as a personal growth experience as well as a product delivery outcome.

Last year I signed up for several “leadership” courses. I engaged a leadership coach. I identified all the things I wanted to ‘improve’ about myself and poured my heart and soul into it. Let me tell you – you can have too much self-awareness. What my journey to be a  ‘better version of myself’  has reinforced is the importance of deep, genuine friendships, seeking help and surrounding yourself with people who bring joy into your life.

The most insightful advice I can give every-one out there (and we are all leaders) is be kind to yourself. As Steve Jobs so famously said “if you want to be liked, sell ice-cream”. People can pick and choose whether they want to be part of your movement or not.

And the tall poppy syndrome. Don’t beat yourself up. If some-one singles you out for an award or gives you an accolade, wear it with pride. Sure, there will be plenty of people they could have given it too, but they picked you. It’s what you do with the award, it’s how you leverage it on behalf of your cause that counts.

As Airlie identified there is no shortage of women in agriculture doing diverse and exciting things. There is no shortage of people in agriculture doing exciting things. There is no shortage of people in all our communities doing exciting things. If you want to start a movement or join a movement, find the one that brings joy into your life.

Thanks Airlie.  I look forward to following your journey.  I havent had the opportunity to work with you but my gut tells me you have an inclusive leadership style I have always aspired too

#IDW2018 #strongwomen #strongertogether

Speaking of Leadership Courses. The one that has left the most indelible impression on me is Leading Transformational Change. Its a live-in course at the Melbourne Business School. The course is transformational but its the people I met at the course who helped me put perspective to my life journey. They helped me celebrate the person I am. The good, the bits others think I should change and the bits I would like to change.  What others think no longer occupies large parts of my head space and the bits I would like to change help me appreciate others with those characteristics and aspire to surround myself with them.

Be good to  yourself. Life is short. Live it with joy

Early adopter farmers are agriculture’s biggest threat

This year as part of The Archibull Prize students in schools across NSW and QLD are studying and reflecting on the biggest challenges facing agriculture in this country.

We have told the teachers and students those challenges are:

  • Climate Change
  • Declining natural resources
  • Food and Fashion Waste
  • Biosecurity

We have left out the most immediate challenge and the most important because the program itself by default addresses this

That problem is consumers are increasingly concerned about the way their food and fibre is produced

Surveys continually back up the following

Consumers want  Safe, affordable and healthy food

Consumers are concerned about

1. environment

2. animal welfare

3. chemicals in food

4. Farmers ability to make a living

I have dedicated the last ten years and the next 20 years of my life to showing consumers that they can have faith in the way food and fibre is produced in this country

I am lucky enough to work with a wonderful team of supporting partners and advocates helping me do this including agriculture’s rising stars

The biggest barrier to achieving major gains in building trust with consumers is our farmers themselves. There is a culture in agriculture that values quiet achievers and frowns upon being proud and loud

Too often I hear those early adopter quiet achievers say that the farmers talking in the media do not represent the majority and are not walking the talk whilst they are at home doing what they do best and don’t need to share it.

Let me tell you early adopter quiet achievers. You are the biggest threat to agriculture in this country and I put it to most of you that like me ten years ago you are very proud of what you do and would be delighted to talk about it if you had the confidence and skill sets to do so.

I have spent the last ten years building my confidence and skills sets and now help others by sharing my journey and providing them with the same technical experts that I was lucky enough to have access to.

Let me share with you what I believe the problem is.

You can break farmers up into the following demographics

  1. Innovators
  2. Early adopters
  3. Early Majority
  4. Late Majority
  5. Laggards

Interestingly enough you can break consumers up into the same demographics. Looking at mainstream technology – love this graph but can’t understand why it wasn’t the girls who were the innovators. See postscript


In agriculture the early adopters get their information from the experts and other farmers follow by having conversations with and witnessing the successes of the early adopters. We have all heard the stats –  9 out 10 farmers learn from other farmers.

Agriculture’s big problem is early adopter consumers have great difficulty accessing agricultural experts or early adopter farmers prepared to share their journey so they get their information from the internet. In a lot of cases that’s a very scary thought. Dissemination of information in the community occurs in just the same way as it does in the farming community. Early adopters (or thought leaders) are highly respected by their peers and listen to what they say.

So I rest my case. Like it or not Early Adopter Farmers is time to come out from behind the bushel and it you were like me and want to build your confidence and skills sets –  lobby the organisations you pay levies to for the access to technical experts to help you Because in reality this is the only way you can save your fellow farmers from extinction.

Self driven extinction by our lack of across the board acknowledgment that the consumer is King and Queen and without their support we are wasting our time and money and our physical and emotional energy


I just love twitter my question as to why girls weren’t the innovators re the iPhone the brains trust on Twitter tells me and you will love this-  its because boys watch porn online that’s why they are innovators. Bit confused but amused

Now there is a research topic for the scientists – Online porn the driver of innovation

Learning from the past to get better outcomes for this generation of farmers

I used to be a quiet achiever in the world of pharmacy.  Today I have a fairly high profile in the world of Australian agriculture. I make a lot of noise and fight what I believe is the good fight to get a fair return for our farmers. I am not always the most popular person in the room and it’s not easy. I have learnt the hard way it’s a journey ( a long journey) It’s not how much noise you make it’s how you make the noise and who you bring with you along the way that counts

For 25 years of my life I was a community pharmacist working in the main to help support the family dairying farming business. Pharmacy is a rewarding profession even when you were like me quietly putting labels on bottles, researching drug interactions, advising how best to treat burns and talking to customers. Pharmacists have the knowledge and the compassion to guide people through the quagmire and frustration that can be the world of hospitals, multiple medications and the desire to get the best health outcomes for sick people who often see you as their first port of call

It’s a very different world to agriculture; where we are totally overwhelmed with quiet achievers and the world is leaving us behind. The majority of pharmacists can be quiet achievers because there are some very smart people in the world of pharmacy who know how important it is if you are going to be heard in Macquarie St or Canberra  you need to be articulate, know that politics is the art of the possible and you need to be a cohesive, collaborative, powerful group of networkers. You need to be loud and proud. This is the reason that the Pharmacy Guild is one most powerful lobby groups in this country

There are a lot of smart people in agriculture and that is where the comparison stops and this is what I want to change. I want the people in the offices in the hallowed halls to tremble and listen and act when the farmer lobbyists go to meet the decision and policy makers

I know there are people in agriculture who could do it better than me and chose not to. So I am on a steep learning curve and constantly seeking out people I can learn from. Figuring out how to ask the right questions and when I get the right answers who are the people to take them to who will actually do something with them. Those people are very short on the ground in the world of dairy. Every day I am reminded just how naive so many of our dairy farmers are. We pay levies and we just expect that the people in charge of our levies can read our minds and this tends to lead to a one size fits all R&D mentality that apparently works in every region no matter what your farming system, topography, soil types et all and decision making that is not always in the best interests of the majority. It also means no-one is listening to us in Macquarie St or Canberra and can’t say I blame them.

So I love to talk to people from other industries, hear what they are doing and always wondering why we don’t do that in dairy. Looking at the diversity of people I met at Crookwell Show. See post here.

Take cattle farmer Ken Wheelwright for example.


Ken and his family realised long ago that farming today is not about working longer hours it’s about being smarter. So after talking to holistic educator Bruce Ward, Ken contacted the KLR Marketing team and became part of their Mastermind Group.

The KLR Mastermind Group is the support network for KLR Marketing. The greatest benefits of being part of this network, Ken believes is that you have access to the vital tools that enable you to profit from your livestock, in any market and he certainly gave me plenty of successful examples. Imagine the value of talking to people who can share their experiences like recognising the recent rain has meant there has been a rapid growth of grass and the cattle market is very buoyant but looking at the medium term weather forecast shows there are some extreme heat events coming which are going to burn that grass off pretty fast and it might be very smart to de-stock by 90% and take advantage of the current high cattle prices. If there is a similar range of services delivered on-line and offline, which include a unique market report like the KLR 30 Second Market report, profit calculators, teleconferences as well as mentoring days in regional areas offering in the world of dairy I have never seen it

Talking to Dr Rod Hoare reminded me how important it is to learn from past knowledge.


Rod is an equine and cattle vet with extensive experience working for the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI). Now Chief ground steward at the Crookwell Show and farmer Rod and his partner Helena Warren run a very interesting and diverse farming operation at Cadfor Equestrian and Murray Greys. Rod is also the 2012 Australian Biosecurity Farmer of the Year   

I learnt a lot about a lot things from Rod as we drove around Crookwell Show in his little golf buggy.


There are many farmers in the dairy industry that could benefit from listening to Rod talk about the protocols and systems that were in place to ‘keep the bastards honest’ in the on farm milk quality testing process when he was at the DPI. Any farmer who has moved from one milk processor to another who uses a different lab knows how huge the variation in milk quality lab test results can be and how costly that can be. For us one year that was $30K. You can do a lot on farm with $30K.  You could employ some-one for half a year. Imagine how much infrastructure repairs and maintenance you could do let alone how many trees and fencing you could do. Build a shade shelter for your cows on hot days, the holiday you could go on, let alone all the staff that didn’t get their milk quality bonus. It wasn’t much fun for them either. There is a small dedicated group of people out there trying to fix this problem on behalf of farmers but getting nowhere because for some reason “the bastards” are happy with the system. Well Rod might just have the answer; it certainly worked in his day.

On our trip to the cattle sheds Rod introduced me to 84 year old Ernie Stevenson. Ernie was a very early and influential member of the Murray Grey Society. A man with a good eye for cattle but admits he is fairly critical which often didn’t make him the most popular judge


Ernie’s daughter Fiona with her husband butcher Mick Battiste have kept the family beef cattle tradition alive at their Woolarainga Stud where they raise Murray Grey and Squaremeaters

In September 2009 Mick and Fiona established Woolaringa Meats as a retail butcher shop, located at 112 Kinghorne Street, Goulburn. They provide free range beef from their own farm and purchase cattle from local farmers like Rod Hoare that suit their specifications. According to Rod, Mick Battiste does all his own butchering and promotion of beef. Mick works on the basis that (like a pharmacist) by taking time to share your knowledge and skills you can give people a better eating experience

The things like we farmers kno, that you make great casseroles with cheap chuck steak not prime costly rump steak

Well done Mick and Fiona running great events like Super Square Sunday  

Mick and Fiona Battiste



I must be a good person because I am a Christian

I am always fascinated by politicians who have this innate ability to have a media opportunity waiting for them as they come out of church on a Sunday or people who feel it is imperative to state their political persuasion or their religious affiliations or what they eat or don’t eat as if the label alone confers them with character, integrity, ethics and values


I have great admiration for many people I have worked with who I don’t have any idea if they are Liberal or Labour or Green or Christian, or Agnostic, Jewish or Hindu or vegetarians or carnivores, heterosexual or homosexual or whatever. And I don’t really care. I know them by their actions not their words that they are men and women of integrity and character. This is the type of person who I want to surround myself with and can only be determined by watching their behaviour, their track record over time in responding to all sorts of situations.


What has this all to do with farming you ask. Quite a bit in fact
Life and business are far more complex than drawing a line and putting “Christian is good” on one side, and “Non-Christian is bad” on the other as one example.


The same applies to this ever growing propensity to demonise certain types of agricultural systems out of hand

The media is full of stories about the perils of conventional, large-scale agriculture, pointing to simpler ways of producing food that appear to be more in harmony with nature.

Large vs. small, family farms vs. corporate, organic vs. mainstream, free range vs. housed, grass fed vs. grain fed.The reality is it’s not the system it is how it is managed that really counts.
When it comes to the best approach to natural resource management and animal well-being we need to focus on measurable results that, in turn, will generate innovation and solutions to some of our most pressing problems on this planet. Not the least of which is to provide affordable, nutritious, ethically produced food that allows a reasonable return on investment for farmers that will allow them to feed a future 9 billion people and maintain life on Earth as we know it.

It is not just the community that is putting pressure on farmers. Some farm businesses and major retailers have taken to denigrating other farm management systems as a marketing tool to promote their own. The poultry industry is a classical example. How often do you see poultry advertised as “hormone free”.


Not only is this is a nonsense as all plants and animals have natural hormones in them- think plant sterols in soy milk, but worse still it casts doubt into the mind of the consumer that all the other chicken on the market must actually have hormones added. Absolute myth. Hormones have not added been to any poultry feed in Australia for over 40 years! You can read all about the Australian poultry industry here

At Clover Hill Dairies we have been guilty of wearing the occasional badge of honour ourselves
Pesticide Free0001

Up until we took over Lemon Grove Research Farm we proudly stated on all our literature that we don’t use herbicides and pesticides.  When we took over Lemon Grove we suddenly found it was easy to say this because Clover Hill didn’t have plagues of army worms and red legged earth mite and nasty broadleaf weeds that grew like wildfire if let do so on the flood plain.

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Judicious use of scientifically validated technology is one of the great advantages developed food producing nations like Australia have over many other countries. We have rigid and well regulated systems and safety checks in place that make our food some of the safest in the world, irrespective of whether it has been derived by conventional or non-conventional methods. If we read the labels and play by the rules we can be confident that the technologies that we use on farm are safe and the food that we produce is superior and as safe as any in the world.

At Clover Hill and Lemon Grove we will always aim to produce the best quality and safest food that is grown with the best interest of the environment and animals that it comes from.

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However, our farming systems can not be locked into a religious type paradigm of what we think is best We must continue to adapt to our changing resource base, the seasons and climate, the economy and our markets. We also know that nature does not always get it right and some times we need to use technology to tip the balance back in favour of the farming system and the ever increasing people we need to feed.


We must acknowledge this if we are going to keep feeding our world from an ever shrinking resource base with a market place that continually wants to pay less for food that costs more to produce. We must always use technology and innovation smartly and consider the collateral effects of its use ensuring that our management and farming practices are at best practice rather than just reaching for the key to the chemical shed or the drug cabinet.

Good article by the BBC’s Richard Black on this Farming Needs a “Climate Smart'” Revolution 

On a lighter side – Labels can mean many different things to different people


and this one


There is no room for ordinary in agriculture anymore.

These days I get asked to speak at many varied events and that pleases me greatly

This month it is the Future World Eco Technology Centre in Wollongong and the topic is ‘Sustainable Urban Food Production”

Once upon a time when I was just starting my crusade ( Farmers Call to Arms) to give the community real farmers they could relate to and most importantly talk to; Rosemary Stanton was the face of sustainable agriculture at every community forum I went to. I was mortified. Expert on human nutrition she may be, commercial farmer she is not and whilst my degree gives me a sound knowledge of human nutrition and I have opinions about it there is no way I would up put myself up as an expert. Rosemary has strong opinions indeed about sustainable agriculture but that’s all they are, armchair expert opinions.

So I asked myself why is Rosemary asked to talk on this topic and not a farmer. After hearing her speak a couple of times and attending a few agriculture conferences the reason was obvious Rosemary Stanton is a damned good highly charismatic presenter

It then became very clear to me agriculture desperately needed farmers who were both experts in their field and charismatic speakers who could relate to urban audiences and urban audiences to them.

This is why I love and fight so hard for the Young Farming Champions program. (See footnote)

In November last year I presented at the Future Focused Ag Oz forum to a group of 20 young rising stars of agriculture. The topic of my presentation was “Wanted extraordinary people for an extraordinary challenge”

I started my presentation with a picture of me and said “My name is Lynne Strong and I am extraordinary”  Slide 1

This was followed by a picture of Michael and Nick with the statement “ I farm with my family and they are extraordinary”  Slide 2

I then put up a slide with a picture of our cows and said “our cows supply 50,000 Australians with milk everyday and they are extraordinary” Then I said “ as you can see there is a pattern forming here extraordinary can be contagious.” Slide 3

With that I asked each person to introduce themselves to the person sitting next to them and then tell them they were extraordinary and of course these exciting young people got into the groove straight away.

Slide 4 went on to say “Feeding, clothing and housing the world now and in the next 50 years is going to require an extraordinary effort. This means we need extraordinary people to take up the challenge.  There is no room for ordinary in agriculture anymore”

Now when I do a new presentation that’s a bit out there I run it by my family. This time I only showed them slides 1, 2 and 3 without telling them who the audience was.  They both looked shocked and said “You are not giving that presentation to dairy farmers are you?”  When I said no its for a group of young farmers with similar mindset to the Young Farming Champions they were quite comfortable with that but assured me I could never give that presentation to a group of dairy farmers.

I recently asked a wise person who works across all industries why dairy farmers are such quiet achievers.? Why has it been inbuilt in dairy farmers to play things down? Why aren’t we encouraged to celebrate?

He said the dairy industry is like the egg industry. They are the two most silo orientated industries in Australia and this mindset is embeded in their culture.

It is clear to me and the exciting young farmers I meet and work with we need a culture of change as being quiet achievers is achieving very little. Agriculture has great stories to tell and farmers should be loud and proud. If agriculture is going to overcome the challenges and grasp the opportunities with both hands it is imperative that we find vehicles for our young farmers to stand up and show Australia (and the world) just how extraordinary our farmers are.

I am currently putting together a number of blog posts for the Art4agriculutureChat site that have been written by some of the inspiring young farmers I have met over the last 12 months.

Last week we featured Melissa Henry and thanks to the twitterverse and Facebook Melissa’s story is now one of the Art4AgricultureChat most popular blog posts. It is clear that the community is interested in stories about young farmers written by young farmers  and we will be sharing them with you as often as we can

Next up is Young Farming Champion, AYOF Roadie and NSW Farmers Young Farmers’ Council Chair Hollie Baillieu followed by Horizon Scholar Rozzie O’Reilly. Two extraordinary young farmers of the future.

You can read Hollies post here Agriculture can take you anywhere you chose

If you know an exciting young farmer and would like to share their story with the world send me an email at


The Young Farming Champions program was inspired by the most impressive initiative I have ever been involved in which is the Climate Champions program.

The Climate Champions program is a cross industry partnership of farmers across Australia which has exposed me to the bright minds from other industries. There is nothing more rewarding for your personal development than surrounding yourself with innovative thinkers you can learn from. The Climate Champions program is managed by the fabulous team from Econnect who not only deliver the workshops they support each of the 34 farmers 365 days 24/7

The Climate Champions program is a collaboration between the Grains Research & Development Corporation, Managing Climate Variability and Meat & Livestock Australia