Australian Agriculture Roundtable Conference 2017

International Convention Centre Sydney, 9 & 10 November 2017

Keynote Speakers


Gala Dinner Speaker: Ali Capper

Chair, UK National Farmers Union Horticulture and Potatoes Board In Partnership at Stocks Farm, Suckley, Worcestershire UK with her husband Richard and his father Mark, the Cappers specialise in growing hops and apples. They farm dessert and cider apples and hops.
Alison Capper’s former career was in advertising and marketing. Today, in addition to numerous roles at the farm, Ali’s work includes membership of the Boards of Wye Fruit, the British Hop Association, the Hop Industry Committee, the Norton Cider Growers Association; and as Chairman of the UK’s NFU’s National Horticulture and Potatoes Board, and Wye Hops. Ali is a Nuffield Scholar, a Trustee of FACE and the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust.

Breakfast Speaker: Bob Young

Chief Economist and Deputy Director Public Policy Department, American Farm Bureau Federation Bob Young joined American Farm Bureau Federation in 2003 as the Chief Economist, providing analysis of short-term issues in support of the policy implementation effort of the Federation. In 2013, he took on the added responsibility of Deputy Executive Director of the Public Policy Department, helping to coordinate the overall advocacy efforts of the Federation.
Bob came to Farm Bureau from the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) where he was Co-Director from 1991 through 2003. He served as the Chief Economist of the United State Senate Committee on Agriculture from 1987 through 1991. Bob has a PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri, with a BS and MS in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Missouri as well.

Speaker Profiles


Session 1: Decentralisation

Jack Archer, Chief Executive Officer, Regional Australia Institute

Jack Archer has been with the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) since its inception in 2012, and developed the RAI’s policy and research program including major products such as [In]Sight: Australia’s Regional Competitiveness Index and [In]Form: Australia’s Online Library of Regional Research. Jack took up the role as Chief Executive Officer on 1 July 2015.
In previous roles as a consultant and public servant, Jack contributed to major regional reforms in water, climate change, indigenous issues and industry.
Jack holds a Bachelor of Natural Resource Management (Hons 1) from the University of New England and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Originally from Paterson in the lower Hunter Valley of NSW, he now lives in the hills west of Canberra.

John Harvey, Managing Director, AgriFutures Australia

John Harvey joined AgriFutures Australia in May 2016 as Managing Director. He accepted the challenge to set a new, more commercial direction for the organisation.
Prior to this appointment, John held various positions at the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) spanning 18 years, including five years as Managing Director.
A graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, John was a Director of Australian Crop Accreditation System Limited and a Director of the Value Added Wheat Cooperative Research Centre.
John has served on the boards of Pulse Breeding Australia, Barley Breeding Australia and the National Soybean Breeding Program. He was also a member of the Australian Winter Cereals Pre-Breeding Alliance and the CRC for Plant Based Management of Dryland Salinity. He has a BSc (Rural) Hons (University of New England), and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Scott Hansen, Director General, NSW Department of Primary Industries

Scott Hansen joined NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) as Director General on 17 March 2014. Before joining the Department he held senior management positions in both the public and private sectors with a defined interest in the areas of agriculture, innovation and productivity.
Immediately prior to joining the Department of Primary Industries, Scott was Managing Director of Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) responsible for the overall operations of the business and a $170 million industry-funded budget for research and development and marketing. He has also served in leadership roles as the Executive Director of the Sheepmeat Council of Australia, Executive Director of the Victorian Farmers Federation Pastoral Group, and previously worked with the Victorian Department of Primary Industries.
After joining the MLA in 2004, he served as General Manager for Industry Affairs and Communication. Scott held an overseas post with MLA, working in Washington in 2009, heading up the Australian beef, lamb and goat marketing efforts in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
He graduated with a rural science degree from the University of New England.

Session 2: The Future Agricultural Workforce

Dr Kelly Manton-Pearce, Farmer, Agriculture Scientist and Chair, Grower Group Alliance

Dr Kelly Manton-Pearce is a grain and prime lamb producer from Yealering in Western Australia, along with her young family. In 2016, Kelly become the Chair of the Grower Group Alliance in WA which is a farmer-driven organisation that connects WA grower groups, research organisations and agribusiness networks across Australia and facilitates networking, capacity building and advocacy on behalf of groups.
Kelly has had a career in agricultural research and worked as a Research Fellow at Murdoch University for 16 years. Kelly is also a Director of WAMMCo International which is a lamb and sheep meat processing and marketing cooperative, Director of Co-operatives WA, 2012 Nuffield Scholar, and graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Kelly has vast experience with grower groups and, as a researcher, has coordinated projects with groups. Grower groups are a tremendous asset to the agricultural industry and rural and regional communities. They initiate locally relevant and focused projects, facilitate extension, increase adoption rates of new practices and technologies, and build social and professional capacity within rural and regional areas.

Pip Job, Senior Project Officer Business & Social Resilience Programs, NSW DPI

Pip Job is the 2014 National and NSW/ACT RIRDC Rural Woman of the Year, and is the former CEO of the Little River Landcare Group in the central west of NSW. Pip has been a small business operator for 20+ years and has worked in the not-for-profit sector for 10 years. Pip’s experience of working collaboratively with community in an agricultural context now sees her leading the Young Farmer Business Program which is a new initiative within the NSW Department of Primary Industries and also providing support services to farming families to enhance business and social resilience.
Pip is an advocate for sustainable agriculture where the principles of managing holistically contribute towards healthy landscapes, productive, profitable businesses, happy families and thriving communities. Pip has been a beef cattle producer for 20+ years, establishing her first business at the age of 14. Pip has felt first-hand the impacts of drought as a grazier, business-woman and mother, and has worked closely with her community to bring about change in the way people approach difficulties such as drought. Pip’s RIRD Rural Women’s Award bursary project, ‘Positive Farming Footprints’, has explored the concept of farm family resilience and what social barriers block their progress and the need to manage these issues holistically.
Pip’s professional career within Landcare has resulted in her being inducted into the Australian Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame and presented as the winner of 2015 NSW Landcare Facilitator Award. Pip is a member of the Primary Industries Ministerial Advisory Council, a Board member of the Central Tablelands Local Land Services, and is a Technical Committee Member of the Australian Beef Industry Sustainability Framework.

Andrew Skinner, Manager Solution Design and Information Architecture, Meat & Livestock Australia

Over the last 18 years, Andrew Skinner has travelled the globe designing, developing and deploying digital tools and services in challenging physical environments, for some of the world’s biggest brands. More recently his focus has been on building tools, business models and techniques to help organisations derive value from information and analytics. Prior to a chance career-changing meeting with some sheep and his subsequent recent appointment to the Integrity Systems Company, he led the Data to Decisions CRC Innovation Exchange program, where he worked closely with the manufacturing and agriculture industries to develop a number of research-based decision-support prototypes. He also contributed to the Rural R&D for Profit 'Precision to Decision Project' where he gained expertise in data use across the 15 major Australian agricultural industries.

Mick Hay, Managing Director, Rimfire Resources

Mick Hay is well-known in Australasian agribusiness circles. Prior to starting Rimfire Resources, Mick gained more than a decade of experience in sales, logistics and senior management positions across three leading multinational agribusiness companies.
His recruitment career began in 1998 and he established Rimfire Resources in 2001 after recognising the need for a specialist human resource service to answer the unique needs posed by both employer and employees across the entire agrifood supply chain.
Mick’s current role sees him as Managing Director of Rimfire Resources whilst also working directly on and conducting mid- to high-level search assignments across a broad and varied range of agribusiness in Australia, with both a domestic and international focus.
He has tertiary qualifications in agricultural science and postgraduate qualifications in agribusiness and continues to be actively involved through his involvement at Board or committee level in a number of industry organisations.
Mick is also very committed and passionate about the promotion of the length and breadth of opportunities that are on offer for the next generation of professionals, many of which may not have considered the agrifood sector as their initial chosen career.


Session 3: Energy

Matt Brand, Chief Executive Officer, NSW Farmers' Association

Matt Brand has been the CEO of the NSW Farmers’ Association since October 2010. Prior to this role, Matt has had senior marketing, commercial and sponsorship roles in the FMCG industry and professional sport, involving trademarks or brands such as Moove flavoured milk, Bundaberg Rum, Guinness, and the Wallabies.
As CEO of NSW Farmers’ Association, he has driven a strategic, structural and cultural change agenda to reposition and realign the organisation. This has resulted in growth in the business across key measures such as financial improvements, a positive net promoter score as well as asset and membership growth for the first time in over 14 years.
Matt has been a key driver of the national project ‘streamline and strengthen’, the Australian Farmers model. Having set up the Australian Farmers Shared Services company to ‘demonstrate by doing’ the benefits of organisations working together to centralise their back-office functions by providing a fee for service in the finance/accounting space. The aspiration is to explore other functions that can be provided by the shared services company. Matt has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Systems) Agriculture, UWS Hawkesbury, and a Master of Business (Marketing), Monash University.


Gavin McMahon, Chief Executive Officer, Central Irrigation Trust

Gavin McMahon is heavily involved in water issues within the SA Riverland District and across the Murray-Darling Basin. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Central Irrigation Trust and a Director of Central Irrigation Pty Ltd, where he is responsible for the delivery of irrigation water to thousands of families, domestic customers and industries. He is also a Director of the National Irrigators' Council and currently serves as the Chairperson. Gavin was a member of a Water Act Review Panel which reviewed the Water Act 2007 and a member of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder Review Panel in 2017.
Gavin previously spent 23 years with BSES Ltd, a research and development company servicing primary producers and processors in the sugar industry, where he held several positions within the company, commencing as an agricultural advisor and completing his time with BSES as the Manager of Customer Service. Gavin holds a BSc from Griffith University where he majored in Environmental Studies as well as a BBus from the University of Southern Queensland.

David Mailler, Farmer and Director, Meralli Projects

David Mailler is a farmer from New England and north-west NSW. He is a member of NSW Farmers' with over 30 years of farming experience, a keen interest in spiralling business energy costs and the emerging opportunities from renewables. David and his wife, Clare, and three children, Tom, Sarah and Jemma moved to Uralla in 2008, where he operates a farming and contracting business.
In 2011, David graduated as a fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Programme. He then applied for and received a mature age entry to a Bachelor of Sustainability at the University of New England. While studying full-time David still ran his agricultural business and graduated in 2017. After graduating David was instrumental in creating a new solar farm construction enterprise.
David is a Director of Meralli Projects – a new operation specifically set up the build small- to medium-size solar farms – revolutionising the Australian solar industry. Using a very unique peg system, Meralli Projects has constructed the largest privately-funded, unsubsidised solar farm of its type in the world at this point in time.David has a dedicated interest in regional sustainability and believes renewable energy systems provide significant business opportunities for rural and regional Australia.

Session 4: Corporate Investment in Agriculture


Rob Bradley, Farmer and Director, Nuffield Australia

Rob Bradley grew up on a cropping property at Gunnedah in north-west NSW. He has a Bachelor of Business in Agricultural Commerce from the University of New England.
Rob moved to Tasmania in 1997 to be part of his wife, Jo’s, family farming operation. Rob with Jo’s two brothers developed and grew the family farming operation to become one of Tasmania’s most successful farming families. They took a predominately wool sheep and dryland cropping farm and developed that and other acquisitions into a large-scale irrigated cropping and sheep meat operation before diversifying into dairy.
Rob and Jo now farm independently on two properties over 1200 ha near Longford. They operate an 800 cow dairy, plus a significant sheep and cropping operation. The Bradleys also have significant farming interests in partnerships with Rob’s family in NSW – growing mainly malt barley, chickpeas and cotton on 5200 ha.
In 2009, Rob won a Nuffield scholarship that took him to the US and the UK to investigate how to integrate livestock and pasture into an irrigated cropping system that would improve soil quality and deliver a profitable and sustainable farming enterprise. Rob is also involved in BWB a company investing and providing management service and investment advice for foreign and local individuals investing in the Tasmanian dairy industry. Rob and Jo, together with Grant Archer, were the Australian Dairy Farmers of the year in 2011, which is measured on economic performance as well as people and sustainability outcomes.
Rob is also holds Director positions with Nuffield Australia, Cressy Longford Irrigation Scheme, Toosey Ltd (Community Aged Care Facility), and Forrester Lodge Pty Ltd.

Andrew Beattie, Director, ProAdvice

Andrew Beattie is a Director and Chief Financial Officer of ProAdvice. Andrew has been a management consultant since 1995, assisting clients with strategy development, implementation of improved business systems including management of risk, business analysis and facilitation of succession. Andrew started his career at the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries as a research officer before moving to private consulting. He holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from University of Tasmania and is a member of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology (AIAST).

Kim Morison, Managing Director, Blue Sky Alternative Investments

Kim Morison is a senior executive with over 25 years’ experience in agribusiness, water markets, commodity and currency derivatives trading, and international soft commodities markets.
Blue Sky Water Partners manages investments in Australian water entitlements, water infrastructure, agribusiness supply chain infrastructure, and private equity farmland ventures.
Kim has previously held senior management roles with CSR Sugar, Macquarie Bank’s Agricultural Commodities Group, Twynam Agricultural Group, and Colly Cotton Limited.