The DemoDairy Foundation was pleased to sponsor the Women on Farms Gathering held at Port Fairy last month.
The foundation sponsored keynote speaker Janet Moxey and also covered the attendance of 10 women from southwest Victorian dairy farms.
DemoDairy Foundation board member Maggie Leutton attended the event and provides the following summary notes.
Keynote Speaker – Janet Moxey, “People, Cows & Farms”
Janet spoke of hers and Paul’s journey. Paul’s grandfather had started with 25 acres / 25 cows with blocks of ice being delivered in a motorcycle sidecar.
They built up the home farm at Richmond, in the west of Sydney. Their son eventually took over this farm when Paul became President of NSW Dairy Farmers Association (NSWDFA). However, tragically Paul was diagnosed with a brain tumour and eventually passed away in 2001.
Then there was a period of ten years of drought.
Eventually milking 2000 cows at Goolagong, 300 cows at Richmond.
The business spent time focussing on succession plans and future direction. Paul’s brothers, who were a part of the initial structure, all eventually moved to doing their own thing. Janet became the Ambassador for the business (and industry) through offering hospitality and hosting. She renovated the 1800’s homestead into a B&B.
As a development strategy, the business sought the interest of investors Expressions of Interest from ten operations, including from across the globe. They had identified capital to invest externally for joint venture strategies for the family’s ongoing benefit, finally settling on two family groups, the New Hope Group (a Chinese family) and the Perisher Group, an Australian family company from nearby Camden.
Currently, the business is milking 8000 cows per day at Goolagong, 5000 cows three times per day on a property near Shepparton plus further activity on another property in northern Victoria. This represents a total acreage of about 30,000 acres with all milking done using rotary dairies and no robotics.
The company employs ten to twelve vets across the farms, rears all its own calves and grows all its own feed. Milk is supplied to several companies.
The business has setup its Admin Headquarters in Orange and employs twenty- five people to manage the OH&S, Work Safety etc.
Janet’s daughter is a qualified vet with a Diploma in HR and now manages HR across the business.
Key message: “Love what you do!”
Journalist, who became Rural Blogger after marrying a local farmer near Hexham. Her experience has been with print and TV. She and her husband now have young children so Kirsten works from home.
Using the analogy – “rural farming women are makers of scones” – Kirsten focussed on the point that there is no clear job description for women on farms. There are a variety of combinations of engagement:- e.g. childcare, schooling, rearing calves, housekeeping, HR, OH&S, WorkCover, AI management, working off farm full-time or part-time, working from home full-time or part-time etc.
Observations from Kirsten:
- Interesting statistic – farmers 3 male to 1 female.
- Geographic narcissism with justification by working in the city or rather ….
- ‘Attitude’ is holding many back.
- There is a persistent perception of ‘rural & regional’ being lesser than ‘metro/city’ in relation to living standards, opportunities and leisure activities, however until city folk take the time to look out and about they are tunnel
Look out for Kirsten’s Podcast “Ducks on the Pond” later this year.
Warrnambool Racing Club Clerk of the Course who is following in the footsteps of her father.
Raised on a dairy farm in Orford north of Port Fairy and rearing and riding many horses on the property. Raised “Tears I Cry” which won a class 1 race on Epsom Cup Day 2007.
Following on from a farm accident in which a worker was killed, it has taken eight years to work through the OH&S process due to the worker not having signed off on the policy training.
Message: Be sure to keep up with training and paperwork on farm.
Former independent federal politician for the seat of Indi, now author, Cathy used the example of the many scarves, t-shirts and event gifts she has acquired to trace her attendance at a wide variety of events and activities which served as her training ground, and which eventually lead to a term in Canberra.
Women building a tribe … we have lost this … “Tall poppies” are harvested, therefore make sure you have others coming with or behind you.
Important to learning how to:-
- show up;
- speak up; and
- step up.
However, it is important to not stay in the job too long. Work towards a collective.
Cathy was responsible for changing the VFF voting structure to two votes per business rather than the one which was usually Grandpa! Thereby offering more opportunity for women to have a vote.
Australian Women in Ag has developed a very strong relationship with PNG Women in Ag. In their case, they are ‘subsistence farmers’ feeding the nation. Women in Sugar requested Vic Women in Ag to help change their voting system without success.
We must talk about what we know … if we do not, we will not know! If we do not learn it, we cannot do it!.
1996 Dept of Economics stats women’s worth in rural work equates to $14 billion.
Areas for involvement:
- Women in Ag
- VFF UDV
The event was an excellent networking opportunity for our community and a chance to learn from other women in agriculture. Congratulations to the organisers.