Australian Agriculture Roundtable Conference 2018

The Australian Farm Institute’s Agriculture Roundtable is an open forum for those with an interest in agricultural policy. The day’s sessions on animal welfare, environmental policy, community trust and agricultural statistics ran from 9 am – 5 pm. Followed directly by an evening session from 6 pm, 'The Right to Farm' - After Hours Forum, which included food, cocktails and time for networking along with the topic discussion.


The 2018 Agriculture Roundtable was held in Canberra to coincide with the National Farmers’ Federation Congress as well as the Farmer of the Year and Rural Women’s Awards and Rural Leadership Foundation gala. Combined, these events ensure that agriculture provides a strong voice to those that most need to hear; debating issues, discussing solutions and celebrating success in the sector.




Many of today's agricultural policy issues are emotive and personal. Animal welfare and environmental sustainability, for instance, are both issues that draw out passionate responses from core personal belief systems – and also attract considerable regulation. However, most people would agree that regulation should be based on evidence rather than personal belief. So how do you temper emotion with facts to have a constructive discussion that leads to workable policy outcomes? And what if the evidence is patchy or in dispute?

In short: How can we create best-practice evidence-based agricultural policy for Australian farmers?

The Australian Agriculture Roundtable put forward the proposition that agricultural policy must be evidence-based, not emotion-driven. It featured a range of speakers talking about why that may not be as easy or as obvious as it sounds, whether the facts are there to support arguments and what agriculture needs to do to ensure that policy development is rational and workable.

KEYNOTE: Bernie Hobbs - 9:10am
Animal Welfare - 10:00am

Farmers are responsible for the welfare and husbandry of the animals under their care, but you can't ask a chook if it's happy. How should we assess animal welfare to provide community assurance and maintain viable animal agriculture systems?

Community Trust - 11:30am

Farmers rank amongst the most trusted professionals – apart from when they are trying to make a profit. How can farmers win or earn back the community’s trust?

Environmental Policy - 2:00pm

It is becoming increasingly possible to quantify the interaction and impact of human activity on the natural environment, but how should we determine an acceptable level of impact? What level of managed environment is acceptable to the community which also needs food and fibre?

Ag Statistics - 3:45pm

It is no use campaigning for evidence-based policy if you don't have the data to back it up. We need to collaboratively improve our agricultural data collection and analysis. Where does the data come from to support policy positions?

'The Right to Farm' - After Hours Forum - 6:00pm

Evening discussion – featuring winners of the John Ralph Essay Competition and Farmer of the Year.

The right to farm describes the ability for farmers to undertake lawful agricultural practices without conflict or interference, but the differentiation between a legal right and a social privilege has become blurred. Increasingly, primary production practices are being dictated by neighbours, activists and political representatives without a connection to or understanding of agriculture.

What degree of influence should a community have on its food production systems?



KEYNOTE: Bernie Hobbs, Science communicator

Rob Egerton-Warburton, Farmer & Nuffield Scholar

Heather Neil, CEO, RSPCA Australia

Rowan McMonnies, Managing Director, Australian Eggs

Verity Morgan-Schmidt, CEO, Farmers For Climate Action

Travis Tobin, CEO, Queensland Farmers Federation

Trent Thorne, Special Counsel at McCullough Robertson,
President of the Rural Press Club of Qld

Deanna Lush, Managing Director, AgCommunicators

Ross Hampton, CEO, Australian Forest Products Association

Bryce Camm, CEO, Camm Agricultural Group

Rachel Ankeny, Professor - School of Humanities, University of Adelaide

Peter Gooday, Assistant secretary and Chief Commodity Analyst, ABARES

Kylie Hudson, Marketing Leader, Tripod

Richard Heath, Executive Director, AFI


AG & RuRAL Focus Week

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SiLver Sponsor


Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra

The Australian Agriculture Roundtable Conference will be held in Gandel Hall at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA). The NGA is an iconic cultural arts institution that combines creative artistic food with exclusive experiences. The venue is like no other in Canberra, architecturally designed with unique and striking features.

Plan Your Trip

Venue information

The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) – Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra ACT 2600

How to get here

Canberra is a 3.5-hour drive south from Sydney or a 55-minute flight. You can book flights here. The NGA is located 7 kilometres from the airport taking roughly 10 minutes by taxi, traffic permitting.

Where to stay

DOMA Hotels are offering delegates a 15% discount off their lead room rates across their hotels.

Little National – 21 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600 – phone: (02) 6188 3200

Little National Hotel is conceived for the business, conference and leisure guest who demands smart luxury and high amenity in a super-prime location but at a rate that allows for greater enjoyment of the other facilities offered by the thriving heart of Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle. Uniquely positioned within the Realm Precinct, on National Circuit Barton, the hotel enjoys views of the city, Parliament House and cultural surrounds.

Hotel Realm – 18 National Circuit, Canberra ACT 2600 – phone: (02) 6163 1800

Hotel Realm is ideally located close to Canberra’s city centre and a bevy of the nation’s most revered cultural icons such as the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, Old Parliament House, and the stately Lake Burley Griffin. It is a short walk to the many cosmopolitan shopping, eating and entertainment options of Manuka and Kingston and close to all the drama of Parliament House

While you are here

Canberra has come third in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018 list: “Criminally overlooked Canberra packs a big punch for such a small city. National treasures are found round almost every corner and exciting new boutique precincts have emerged, bulging with gastronomic highlights and cultural must-dos.”

To get more information, go to Visit Canberra.

Contact us

If you have any questions, please contact AFI's Events Officer, Kylie Smith.