Speakers – Australian Agriculture Roundtable Conference 2016

Conference Speakers

Click on session names below for further details

Roger Fletcher, Director, Fletcher International Exports Pty Ltd

Fletcher International Exports is one of Australia’s most integrated processors and exporters of lamb and sheep meat products. A private, family-owned company, Fletcher International operates two highly efficient processing facilities: one located in Dubbo, New South Wales; and the other near Albany in Western Australia. These two plants have a combined processing capacity of more than 90,000 sheep and lambs per week, which equates to over 4.5 million head per year.

The expansion of the company’s farming interests has continued to increase the degree of vertical integration across the business. These interests have strengthened the livestock supply chain, while providing a source of quality crossbred lambs consistently throughout the year. Secondly, the grain produced at the company’s properties is sold directly to end users in export markets.

Steve Marafiote, Managing Director of Sundrop Farms

Steve will be talking about: How Sundrop Farms is redesigning the way we think about food production.

Steve has held roles of Managing Director and CEO for more than 12 years in multinational businesses within the produce and food industries, including Australian Quality Plus, National Food Industry Strategy and Chiquita. Most recently, Steve was the CEO of the South Australian Potato Company, one of Australia’s major farming, washing and potato packing operations.

He is a former Chair of the South Australian Premiers Food Council, has exported to more than 35 countries, and has won multiple business awards for his commercial acumen and ability to develop multi-faceted and vertically integrated businesses. He comes from three generations of farming and retail operations within the horticulture industry.

Hugh Robertson, Stockbroker at Bell Potter Securities

Hugh will look at who is investing in Australian agriculture and why. Hugh has board positions at TasFoods and Primary Opinion Limited (the new shareholder in Maggie Beer). Hugh also handled the public listing of Bellamy's Australia Limited. He runs an Angus cattle and prime lamb operation at Mt Macedon, VIC.

Garry Edwards, Managing Director and CEO, AAM Investment Group

Garry Edwards is the Founder of the AAM Investment Group. He has over 20 years' experience in Investments Management within the Australian agribusiness sector and is a Responsible Manager for the AFSL of AAM Licensees. As an equity investor, Garry has developed assets and executed transactions on a diverse range of opportunities in livestock and crop production, livestock marketing, value added commodity marketing and processing and property development. Garry has extensive experience in the operation and management of a diverse range of agricultural businesses from family operations through to large scale integrated corporate agricultural operations across a range of industry sectors.


Michael Dean, Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer, AgFunder, USA

Michael is co-founder and Chief Investment Officer at AgFunder, a San Francisco based online investment platform for global agriculture and food technology.

Michael has over 20 years of legal, business management and project development experience. He leads the AgFunder investment team and oversees deal identification, origination and execution on the AgFunder platform. A seasoned agriculture investor and operator, prior to starting AgFunder, Michael founded and operated SeedRock Africa Agriculture, and African agribusiness.

A qualified lawyer, Michael previously advised many of Australia's largest investment corporations on the acquisition and development aspects of their property, agribusiness, resources, renewable energy, construction and associated investment activities. Michael sits on the advisory board of the UK based World Agri-Tech Investment Summit. He is a board member of the SproutX Agtech Accelerator and holds a Master of Laws degree from the University of Sydney.


Frank Delahunty, Director, Australian Farmland Property Index Coordinator

Frank Delahunty is advisory panel Chair to five primary producers, a Board member of a grain cleaning and processing company as well as commercial producer of fine quality seed and grains. He is a Director and shareholder of a grain research company integrating breeding and commercialisation of pulse breeding. From 2006 to 2012, Frank was Managing Director and co-founder of Australian Farms Fund Management Pty Ltd (AFFM) Trustee, and Custodian and Manager of the Sustainable Agriculture Fund (SAF). Prior to this from 1993 to 2006, Frank was Managing Director and co-founder of DIRT Management Pty Ltd and Manager of the Warakirri Agriculture Trusts.

A qualified Accountant, Frank has been the coordinator of the Australian Farmland Property Index since 2012, which is supported and collated by NCREIF in the USA. The Australian Index will be launched at the Australian Agriculture Roundtable Conference.

Ian Thompson, First Assistant Secretary, Sustainable Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Division, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

In this role Ian is responsible for fisheries and sustainable agriculture policies and programs, weeds and pests management, water, community and Indigenous engagement and Landcare.

Ian has previously held SES positions responsible for plant industry policy, field crop issues, plant health, native title, drought management, water reform, rural adjustment, rural leadership and rural research issues.

Ian has a Bachelor of Natural Resources degree from the University of New England and is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program.


Andrew Whitelaw, Business Development Manager, Mecardo

As Mecardo's Business Development Manager, Andrew is responsible for managing both the strategic direction and day-to-day operation of Mecardo. Andrew has a strong agricultural background with extensive understanding of grain markets and commodity risk management.

Andrew has a strong background in the grain industry having worked in various roles in grain marketing and logistics both in the UK and Australia with large and small traders.


Kel Davison, Strategic and Tactical Marketing Manager, John Deere

Kel Davison leads both the Strategic and Tactical Marketing teams for Australia and New Zealand. The Strategic team build an understanding of industry and market trends to meet the future product and solution requirements of our valued customers, while the Tactical Marketing team focus on taking this product/solution to market.

Kel oversees these strategies not only for new product being introduced to our country, but supports our positioning of existing product in the marketplace.

Dr Cheryl Kalisch Gordon, Trade and Economics Manager at Grain Growers Ltd

Cheryl will be focusing on trade agreements and the future of the grains industry.

Cheryl has represented Australian grains in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, advocating for Australian grains with respect to the north Asian trade agreements of ChAFTA, KAFTA and JAEPA. Cheryl has an ongoing interest in the family farm in Central West NSW.


Alan Oxley, Principal, ITS Global

Alan Oxley is one of Australia's most authoritative advisers on international trade. He has an enormous depth and spread of experience, drawing on more than 25 years of practice, first in government as a successful trade negotiator and then as an influential adviser to the private sector in the core competences of ITS Global.

Alan has extensive experience advising government and the private sector on strategy and corporate affairs, managing multidisciplinary projects on trade and economic policy and delivering capacity building programs for developing countries in the Asia Pacific region.


Senator Nick Xenophon, Independent Senator for South Australia 


Nick Xenophon first became involved in politics in the 1997 South Australian election, where he campaigned on a 'No Pokies' platform. Over the next eight years, Nick worked to fight the spread of poker machines. He also campaigned on issues where individuals and communities weren't getting a fair go, including asbestos victims, victims of crime and land tax. He was re-elected to the State's Upper House in 2006 with just over 20.5 per cent of the state's vote.

Nick made the decision to leave state politics and run in the November 2007 Federal Election because he believes that he can do more for South Australians in the Senate on key issues such as gambling regulation and water. Nick was elected to the Senate with just under fifteen per cent of the vote. He is the first Independent to be elected to the Senate in a generation. Since assuming his role in the Senate in July 2008, Nick has continued to push for changes in the key areas of gambling reform, the water crisis, consumer law and food labelling.

In December 2014, Nick announced his intention to launch the Nick Xenophon Team. NXT is about creating a common sense approach to politics.

Edwina Beveridge, Blantyre Farms

Edwina will address the question; would right to farm laws make a difference to farming operations? Blantyre Farms is a highly productive farming and livestock business situated near Young, NSW, primarily renowned for its 2,200 sow pig operation. It was the first farm in Australia to have a registered project under the government's Carbon Farming Initiative program by installing a biogas generator to capture methane from the pig manure and turn it into electricity.

David Blackmore, Founder of Blackmore Wagyu

David is a fifth generation farmer who has studied Japanese genetics and methodology when breeding, raising and farming Wagyu animals. His passion and dedication to all areas of the production life-cycle has led to the creation of one of the most premium Wagyu products in the world. Since 1988, David Blackmore’s goal has always been to develop a sustainable production process, which produces a consistent quality unmatched by any other producer in Australia. David is one of the few westerners privileged to be invited to Japanese agricultural research centres, universities, prominent breeder farms, feed facilities and processing plants.


Jan Davis, Former CEO, Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association

Jan works as a consultant specialising in government relations, policy and business development in the agribusiness sector. Jan has held leadership roles in a number of industry groups in the agricultural sector, including the Agribusiness Association of Australia, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Growcom (Queensland Fruit and Vegetable Growers), Greening Australia, the Australian Mushroom Growers Association, and the Nursery and Garden Industry Association of Australia. As CEO of these organisations, Jan has earned a reputation as an innovative thinker and a driver of change.

Images: Richard Heath