Dec 01, 2014
Simone Jolliffe joined the Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) Board in January 2014. Simone’s passion for agriculture was fostered by her family and a childhood spent on a cattle farm. Her interest in agriculture was further developed through her studies at the University of New England in Armidale, where she completed her Bachelor of Rural Science.
Raised on a beef property, Simone has embraced the commitment, intensity and challenges of dairy since joining her husband, Neil, on the Jolliffe farm in 2000. Situated on the Murrumbidgee River, near Wagga Wagga, NSW, Neil and Simone purchased the property in 2008. Farming with her husband and young family, Simone is involved in all aspects of the business from livestock and pastures, through to finances and human resource management.
Simone has been on the board of Dairy NSW since 2010, and became Deputy Chair in 2013. She is also the current Chair for the Inland Elite Dairy Network, and a mother to three school-aged children.
What challenges did you overcome shifting from beef farming to dairy farming when you married Neil?
The biggest challenge was the everyday commitment to dairy farming, most certainly the early morning starts! In terms of nutrition and livestock management, I was able to transfer these skills over quickly, however the human resource side has definitely been a challenge as the business has grown and we have engaged more staff.
Why is it important for you to be involved in all aspects of your dairy farm?
Neil and I are definitely a package deal, meaning that right from the outset we have always participated in joint decision-making. We also bring unique skills to the partnership.
After school I went on to further my studies at university, so I bring a different aspect when we’re reviewing decisions. Neil on the other hand, went straight from school to the farm. As a result, he has always had the hands-on experience and skills that I didn’t necessarily have when I began dairy farming.
This approach enables us to bring different perspectives to decision-making, contributing towards robust debate and ultimately, a business we are both proud of.
Since elected to the ADF Board in January this year, what has your experience been like?
It has definitely been a challenge. As I had not been previously directly involved with ADF, I had a lot of homework to do at the beginning! I have certainly found the experience very engaging and I continue to enjoy the different aspects and approaches to policy-making which complements the work I’ve previously done with Dairy Australia and DairyNSW in the R,D&E (research, development and extension) space.
You have been an active member on the DairyNSW Board over the past four years, what leadership skills do you believe you bring to the ADF Board?
I consider myself to be inclusive, a broad-thinker and encompassing of all aspects of thinking in decision-making. I certainly take all my board roles very seriously and would like to think that I am a well-considered and an active participant, regardless of what board I’m sitting on.
DairyNSW’s Board is different from other Regional Development Program (RDP) Boards as we have Regional Development Groups that sit under us – similar to ADF’s Board and National Council. From this experience, I believe I bring the importance of understanding the structure of member groups to ADF’s Board.
How important is grassroots support to ADF and the broader industry?
It’s the silver bullet! I ultimately think most things are grassroots driven – decisions don’t get made top-down without support from the grassroots level. That’s because ideas and original concepts are usually driven from a grassroots level, which are then refined through the process and improved upon, to ultimately be endorsed and implemented at a national level. We can’t lose that. It doesn’t matter wherever you are in agriculture, you cannot remove that grassroots culture and approach of individual thoughts, concepts and ideas.
You have previously described yourself as someone who is always prepared to “roll up your sleeves”, what does this mean and how do you think you apply this approach to your leadership role at ADF?
Once I’ve committed to something, I will do whatever it is that needs to be done. Developing DairyNSW’s Strategic Plan was an example of this, where I attended workshops in multiple NSW regions with an open ear to hearing the good and the bad from our stakeholders. Whilst there were many difficult conversations to be had, the most important part was being receptive to hearing the ugly truth – which I certainly did plenty of.
These awkward situations often take guts, yet they are so important to understanding and being able to address the real issues our farmers are faced with everyday. In this particular example, from the feedback I gathered, the DairyNSW Board felt positive that we were driving a strategic plan which encapsulated what our stakeholders wanted and we also had the right tools in place to accurately measure on delivering these outcomes.
What are some of the most important policy issues for ADF to focus on in 2015?
The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) restructure is going to be really critical for us as an organisation, and it will be essential that we maintain engagement with NFF through this process. We need to have a clear understanding about what is imperative to our organisation and how this can be aligned with NFF.
In addition, we need to ensure there is effective consolidation of the last 12 month’s successful work, particularly around the China FTA outcome and ensuring it comes into fruition soon.
Being a busy mum, wife, dairy farmer and dedicated industry leader, how do you manage your time?
I am really well supported at home, with a very understanding husband and three very independent and capable children, who are very accepting of what mum does. I am also a ‘list girl’ who is meticulously organised knowing when things have to be done!
If you could impart a single line of advice onto Australian women working in dairy, what would it be?
Stand up and be counted.
It’s so important to ensure woman feel counted and not afraid to have an opinion or to speak up. Real results are achieved when different perspectives are considered – each of us has value to give.
I think dairy tends to be more accepting of the skills and knowledge women bring to the table than other commodities, and this has resulted in better gender balance representation at all levels from local discussion groups; to state and national levels.
We only have to look at DairyNSW’s 50/50 male and female split Board and two out of five of ADF’s Board Directors being female to see there is a huge amount of opportunity for women in dairy leadership roles.
Nov 28, 2014
Did you know that there are 15 agricultural Research and Development Corporations (RDC) in Australia, yet only two of these have regulated levy polls?
Along with the Australian Wool Innovation, Dairy Australia (DA) is bound by a five-year levy review cycle to ensure that dairy farmers have a say towards the amount they pay for their research, development and extension (R,D&E) levy and how it is spent.
In response to the Senate Inquiry into the system for agricultural R,D&E levies , the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) has made a submission in support of the RDC model and the opportunities for dairy farmers provided by DA.
Whilst the ADIC considers that the Levy Poll framework provides an important opportunity for DA to talk to levy payers about their levy investment, there is scope to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the process.
Suggestions the ADIC puts forward to the Inquiry include streamlining the Levy Poll consultation approach, for example through more tailored consultation, use of industry networks, and increased use of technology; improving engagement with farmers about the DA investment throughout the five-year period, not just at the time of the levy poll; as well as, improving the information to demonstrate the returns to farmers from their levy investment.
As subsidiaries of the ADIC, the role of Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) and the Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF) in R,D&E investment is to represent levy payers by working with DA to drive the development of strategies, highlighting priority investment areas and ensuring tangible benefits reach the dairy community.
For more information and to download a copy of the ADIC’s submission, click here .
Nov 27, 2014
Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) today called for Expressions of Interest from ADF farmer members asking them to become part of one of the peak body’s Policy Advisory Groups (PAGs).
Expressions of interest close on 30 January 2015 and can be accessed via the ADF website.
PAGs play a key role in setting business objectives for industry and driving policy formulation. They help to ensure dairy interests are properly represented at a domestic and international level.
Mr Noel Campbell, President of ADF, said the role of the PAGs was critical to policy formulation for the long-term future of dairy.
“We face many challenges as an industry and have always relied on the vision, passion and participation of people within dairy,” said Mr Campbell.
ADF PAGs recommend policy settings to the ADF via the National Council and also act in an advisory capacity providing feedback to Dairy Australia, state dairy farmer organisations (SDFOs) and other bodies like the National Farmers Federation and the Australian Dairy Products Federation.
“PAG members have made a great contribution to dairy over the last 70 years and we want this to continue,” Mr Campbell said.
Mr Campbell said the five PAGs including: Markets, Trade and Value Chain; People and Human Capacity; Animal Health and Welfare; Farming Systems and Herd Improvement and Natural Resources needed to be driven by farmers.
“We welcome and encourage direct involvement from dairy farmers to drive policy in the right direction,” said Mr Campbell.
PAGs are appointed by the ADF Board every year to ensure ADF business members with the right skills, talent and interest are involved.
PAGs can meet up to three times a year. There is a requirement for PAG members to attend the majority of meetings. When PAGs do meet face to face, expenses and sitting fees are covered by ADF in line with internal policy.
PAG Skills and Interest
Ideally, a PAG will have members with a specific interest in that policy area and a complementary mix of skills and experience. The ADF National Council’s appointment of PAG members is based on assessment of each prospective PAG member and the likely contribution they will make to that policy area.
Generally PAGs will consist of six members including two to three National Councillors (some PAGs may be larger in order to accommodate members with specialist skills).
PAG Expression of Interest Process
ADF uses an Expression of Interest (EOI) process to invite ADF business members to register interest in serving on a PAG. The EOI process seeks people with interest and enthusiasm and a strong commitment to the policy area.
ADF business members are invited to lodge a brief statement indicating reasons for interest in the PAG and a brief summary of experience relevant to the PAG. If a prospective PAG member is interested in joining more than one PAG, they can apply to do so.
Current PAGs will continue until positions have been ratified in the first quarter of 2015.
Nov 26, 2014
Officially launched by the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce in Taree, NSW, the ‘Collective Bargaining for Dairy Farmers’ guide is an easy to read document for dairy farmers interested in forming collective bargaining groups to negotiate with milk buyers.
Prepared by Dairy Australia, in conjunction with Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), the guide aims to provide practical advice and insights for farmers looking to level the playing field between small suppliers and large milk buyers.
The guide explores the mutual benefits both dairy farmers and milk buyers can receive when collective bargaining is employed effectively. While not suitable for all, collective bargaining has the potential to deliver many benefits to dairy farmers, including supply chain efficiencies, new marketing opportunities, greater input into contractual terms and more certainty on price.
From the milk buyers end, collective bargaining can result in enhance milk quality, guaranteed year-round fresh milk supplies and improved two-way communications with the collective bargaining group. These mutual benefits show that when effectively employed, collective bargaining can be a win-win for both parties involved.
In 2011, ADF renewed its authorisation grant from the ACCC to collectively bargain with milk processors. This authorisation enables dairy farmers to form and register collective bargaining groups under ADF’s existing authorisation without having to separately apply to the ACCC.
For more information about collective bargaining groups and authorisation guidelines, please contact the ADF Office: (03) 8621 4200