Industry farewells two “top blokes”

Dec 05, 2014

The Australian dairy industry has recently farewelled two long-standing leaders; dedicated dairy farmers; husbands; fathers; and grandfathers... But most of all, two “top blokes”.

Officially stepping down from their roles as Directors on the ADF Board at the end of 2014, together  Chris Griffin and Peter Evans have served over 70 remarkable years as dairy leaders.

ADF Chair, Noel Campbell said their presence will be missed.

“Their tireless efforts and unrelenting dedication to improving and promoting our great industry over many years has not gone unnoticed,” Mr Campbell said.

With more than 35 years experience in dairying on his farm at Westbury, Gippsland, Mr Griffin has led dairy through tough times of drought and the milk price wars. He has also opened our eyes to the possibilities of the future, in new markets, new technology and innovative on-farm practices.  

Chris Griffin on his Gippsland dairy farm, Victoria

Mr Griffin, who has served as a member of the ADF Board since 2005, is the immediate past President of ADF, and former Chair of the ADIC, said the industry was full of people who care.

“People join these organisations because they are vehicles for getting things done... This is an industry in great hands and I’ll be watching with keen interest,” Mr Griffin said.

West Australian dairy farmer, Mr Evans has been active in farmers associations since 1978 and has held many notable industry positions, including having served on the ADF Board since 2007 and in the role of ADF Vice President from 2011 to 2012.

Peter Evans receiving the 2014 WA Milk Bottle Award

Most recently winner of the prestigious WA Milk Bottle Award for outstanding service to the dairy industry earlier this year, Mr Evans said he never considered himself to be a “political animal”.

“I never considered myself to be a political animal but because of poor politics in WA (at the time of industry deregulation), I found advocacy a great tool for getting things done.

“Now into my seventh year on the ADF Board, we are far from perfect but our policies are having better traction with Government than ever before,” Mr Evans said.

ADF wishes the retired Directors all the best as they look to spend more time with their families, travelling and on-farm. 

Getting to know ADF Director, Tyran Jones

Dec 01, 2014

About Tyran

Tyran Jones completed a Bachelor of Engineering and worked in that capacity, before returning to the family farm. Tyran holds a number of industry leadership positions. He is the President of the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) and a Member of the Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) National Council.

In addition to these advocacy roles, Tyran was a Director of The Geoffrey Gardiner Foundation, Chair of GippsDairy, and is currently a member of the industry Steering Committees which oversee critical research, development and extension (R,D & E) national programs.

Tyran is a partner in a Victorian dairy farm and is a strong advocate for agricultural innovation. He believes that the sector needs to focus on driving a profitable, growing, industry. His vision sets bold targets and mechanisms for increasing returns on assets, growing milk production, embracing new tools and technologies, and establishing Australia's position as a key global dairy exporter.


What is one of your fondest memories growing up on your family dairy farm?

I’ve always loved feeding calves and looking after them as they grow up. Just being outside all the time with the animals, machinery and lots of room to move around remains a fond childhood memory of mine.

How has your engineering degree supported your skill set as a dairy farmer?

The degree has provided me with good, basic training for objective assessment and logical thought processes for assessing issues that arise. In other words, it’s provided a good filter for sensible decision making.

What unique qualities do you believe you have as an industry leader, and how do you think these will compliment the ADF Board?

Having grown up on a dairy farm, with a long history in the industry working in Regional Development Programs (RDPs), and research and development projects with Dairy Australia for the last 10-12 years, I have a good understanding of the structures of the industry. I also have an accurate grasp on farmer issues – particularly around profitability and practical decision-making – and I feel I understand the industry from top-to-bottom fairly well.

Part of your vision is to embrace new tools and technologies, what actions are involved in being an advocate for agricultural innovation?

We need to always, always, always place the opportunity for farmers to make milk more efficiently and more cost-effectively first. If it means we’ve got to advocate for other parts of the industry to change – such as consumers – then that’s what we need to do.

We need to tackle these technological hurdles head on, and this is absolutely the case for the bio-tech area which may offer some significant gains for farm profitability over the longer-term.

What’s one policy issue you would like to see positively resolved next year?

I would like to see genetically modified (GM) grass approved through testing and in a position where the industry as a whole, right across the supply chain, is backing the introduction of GM ryegrass. It has the potential to increase profitability and at the same time, reduce our environmental footprint. We need to be vocal and strategic about it, and to not shy away from having these debates.

Many dairy farmers know you are very proactive in the advocacy space, however can you tell us something about you we may not know?

When I have time off (and if you look at my Twitter picture), you will see that I like to ski when I’m not dairy farming, at Mount Hotham or in Canada.


Getting to know ADF Director, David Basham

Dec 01, 2014

About David

David Basham operates a 380 cow dairy farm with his wife, Kate and two daughters. Their property is located in Mount Compass, 65 kilometres south of Adelaide, on the Fleurieu Peninsular in South Australia (SA). David’s family has been milking cows for more than 120 years.

David is the President of the South Australian Dairyfarmers’ Association (SADA) in a role he has held since August 2005. SADA is a membership organisation that advocates and develops policies to benefit SA dairy farmers.

David has been instrumental in the development of a new brand of fresh milk, SADA Fresh, being sold in one of his state’s major retail supermarkets to generate funds for SA industry development.


Growing up in a family that has been dairy farming for over 120 years, what does dairy mean to you?

Dairy has been the lifeblood of our family. I’ve had a long history of family involvement, particularly in leadership positions, where my father was Vice President of the SADA back in the 80s and my grandfather was also passionately involved in many sectors of the industry. The dairy industry is certainly something that is in my blood to be involved in and help make a difference for.

You have been an active leader in the dairy industry for almost 10 years, what does your position on the ADF Board mean to you personally?

I am a re-appointed Director, having served almost six years in the position in the previous form of the Board. Getting involved back on a national level is vital to developing the relationships that are required at a Federal basis for connecting ADF with Dairy Australia (DA) and Government. I believe the techniques I’ve developed over the years will help to strengthen the whole industry.

What importance do you place on engaging with all sectors in the industry, including building strong relationships with Government?

Building on strong relationships with politicians and their advisors is essential. Not necessarily when you want something, but actually when you don’t want something! Meeting and talking with them on an ongoing basis is essential to building up goodwill. The important thing about relationships with Government is being able to make that phone call when you need to make that phone call – having the phone number and access is so important.

With other stakeholders, it’s so important to develop and strengthen those relationships to make sure that there is nothing in the industry that could potentially blindsides us. We need to work as a cohesive group to develop a good industry.

Animal Health and Welfare is a policy area you are passionate about, do you think the industry is being proactive enough in addressing its issues? How do you think we can improve this?

It’s a very hard space to be more proactive than we have been. It would be nice if we could, however the problem is, we have to be able to bring the industry along with us.

We’ve seen in New Zealand for example, a few years ago when they tried to ban calving induction and they did not have the support from the industry to do so. It led to enormous issues of managing the situation.

When we make significant changes to policy, particularly in the animal health and welfare space, we need to be able to bring the majority of the industry with us. There will always be those that want to make us move faster, but the difficulty is bringing the majority.

If there is one policy issue you would like to see ADF focus its advocacy efforts on in 2015, what would it be and why?

I think there are a lot of areas we need to look at in the animal health and welfare space to ensure we are constantly monitoring it. But I think we also need to look at issues that prohibit or restrict our ability to use new technologies. We need to make sure we can convince the consumer, Government and others that they are safe tools and practices that we, as dairy farmers, should be allowed to use.

You’re interstate a lot with work, how do you manage running a dairy farm, being a husband and a father, as well as an industry leader?

It is a big challenge at times. Running the farm is the easier side of things – I have two great staff who are very reliable, that carry out the day-to-day farm work. Over time, I’ve become a very good manager over the phone.

Probably the harder one to manage is the family side of things. Last night I missed my daughter receiving a reading award. This is an example of the difficult things I sometimes have to miss, however I try to be there as much as possible when I am home. Farming, to some degree, also gives you that flexibility to take a day off and go on an excursion to the zoo which may not be possible with other jobs.

We know you love swimming in bath tubs of milk, but tell us something we might not know about you…

On a personal note, I guess one thing many people don’t know about me was that I was single for a very long time and I met my wife on a winery tour, which was a complete and utter setup that I had no knowledge of. It worked quite well because within two weeks, Kate moved in to live with me! 

Getting to know ADF Director, Simone Jolliffe

Dec 01, 2014

About Simone

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. 

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