Imagine dairy farming under constant shelling, your 75-strong workforce having to deal daily with the challenges of war, while managing the normal farming routine. This is the reality for Andrii Pastuchenko, manager of the Dnipro Dairy Farm in a now de-occupied area of southern Ukraine, an area still under constant attack. The Australian Dairy Conference is privileged to bring Andrii to Australia to share his story of resilience.
Paul is a fourth-generation dairy farmer on the coast of NSW near Lismore. In 1993 he returned to the farm after finishing an auto electrical apprenticeship, and in 2006, with his wife, Paul bought the family farm. Since then, the property has grown from 80 to 400 cows, with planning underway for growth to 700 cows. Paul is involved in dairy advocacy in NSW and is currently a Director of Norco Co-operative Ltd. Paul and Sharon operated a fertiliser spreading business alongside the dairy only to watch both businesses get destroyed by the record floods in Feb 2022. Unknowingly, footage of their cows getting washed away went viral and Paul became the face and voice of dairy in the flood recovery.
David has led large scale innovation projects, brought new technology to the dairy industry, and forged significant international partnerships to advance the dairy industry. At Dairy Australia, David leads a broad range of services for dairy farmers, including research and innovation, industry marketing, initiatives that support farm business management, tools to adapt to the environment and address climate, attracting people to the industry and building skills, marketing campaigns to drive community trust, policy research, market insights, and trade relations.
Michael is a well-established agricultural consultant and land agent. He qualified from University College Dublin in 1987 with a B.Agr.Sc.(hon) and commenced his career as a Dairy Husbandry Advisor with MAFF-ADAS UK in 1987. He returned to Ireland in 1989 to work with a private firm and established Brady Group – Agricultural Consultants & Land Agents in 1995. He completed a Nuffield Scholarship in 2005 where he studied advisory services in France, Australia and New Zealand and presently he is a director on the board of Nuffield International.. Michael is passionate and enthusiastic agriculture and especially in helping farmers achieve their goals. Michael was a judge in the National Dairy Farmer of the Year Competition in 2010-2018 and he is a former President of the Agricultural Consultants Association of Ireland. When not at work Michael regularly contributes to public debates, makes the odd TV appearance and is sports mad.
Amy has spent most of her life in and around farming. She has worked with livestock and arable in the United Kingdom and Canada, as a trainee auctioneer in north of Scotland, and in agricultural public relations in the UK. Despite time spent in mainstream PR, Amy is happiest working in farming, and uses her experience to specialise in agricultural issues and crisis management for many years. This has included involvement in high profile stories such as the horsemeat scandal and antibiotic use in livestock. Amy has a part-time PhD from the University of Nottingham examining public perceptions of dairy farming, and uses that knowledge to rejuvenate the reputation of agriculture.
Chris Falconer heads up Pukerua, a mixed dairy and beef farm comprising 255ha in Waerenga, North Waikato, New Zealand. This location is near a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. He has held this role for nearly 10 years and prior to that was sharemilking in Walton following a 9 year ‘sabbatical’ overseas. Chris was awarded a Nuffield scholarship in 2010 to study sustainable livestock systems. His work is modeled on a system of balancing personal, ethical, environmental and community considerations. The outcome of this is no artificial fertilisers, no bobbie calves, no milking twice a day, no cropping and no calving in one block. Outcomes have included lowering stocking rate, maintaining productivity, enhancing the landscape and providing a low-pressure environment for people and animals.
Professor Hayes is the Director of the Centre of Animal Science at the University of Queensland. Prof Hayes has led many large scale projects which have successfully implemented genomic technologies in the livestock and cropping industries. He is the author of more than 300 journal papers, including a recent paper in Nature Biotechnology outlining possible future applications of artificial intelligence in livestock and crop breeding.
Mark grew up on the family farm in the Victorian Mallee and has spent his career in the sheep industry working throughout Australia and New Zealand. He has a PhD in genetics and a passion for enabling farmers to implement effective genetic strategies to get the most out of their livestock. Mark is the founder and CEO of neXtgen Agri, an innovation and consulting company with clients across Australia and New Zealand. He is also a co-founder and Managing Director of Genesmith, a technology company bringing the power of AI to the livestock industry.
Zhi’s research interest is diverse and he has recently completed his Ph.D. in genetics at the University of New England. His main interest is in designing algorithms for various aspects of a livestock production system, ranging from estimating and exploiting additive and non-additive genetic component, optimal contribution selection (OCS), uncovering the genetic architecture for a trait, statistical properties of Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) and QTL models, as well as signature of selection. Zhi is also interested in pure mathematics, a subset of artificial intelligence.
From the late 1990’s, after completing a Master’s program in Dairy Medicine and Management, he was involved with industry funded Australian national animal health and feedbase programs including Countdown and InCalf. In 2016, John completed a PhD program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducting milk harvesting research with Professor Doug Reinemann and Dr John Upton. After a recent research and advisory role at Anexa/Cognosco in New Zealand, he joined Dairy Australia. John and his family remain based in Camperdown in Victoria.
Craig grew up on his family’s Waikato dairy farm. After completing a Mechanical Engineering degree, he worked at a satellite launch company and saw technology being used to revolutionise this industry. Based on this learning and aged 22, in 2016, he founded Halter – a company set on modernising the dairy industry. Halter’s mission is to empower farmers to run more productive and sustainable farms. Halter’s collars and the corresponding app, leverage artificial intelligence to guide cows around the farm, enable farmers to set virtual fences and monitor cows’ health. Halter was recognised as the Most Innovative Hi-Tech Agritech Solution at the 2021 and 2023 NZ Hi-Tech Awards.
Juan is founder and CEO of global livestock reproduction innovators Sexing Technologies® and STgenetics® based in Navasota, Texas. He was raised in the livestock business where his family operated a Brown Swiss dairy in his native Colombia. After receiving his degree in Dairy Science from the Ohio State University, he started his career as an embryo transfer practitioner. Juan went to Texas A&M University to pursue his degree in Reproductive Physiology, and produced thousands of IVF bovine embryos, sheep embryos and bison embryos. He went on to private practice and founded Genetic Resources International and Sexing Technologies® which for the past 25 years has been collecting and transferring bovine embryos. Working with his partner, Maurice Rosenstein, the organisation has been granted a license to sex sort livestock semen using a flow cytometry process that has led to the commercial implementation of sex semen technologies on a worldwide basis.
Ben Loewith is a 3rd generation dairy farmer from Copetown, Ontario. He has been a member of several dairy industry leadership boards and committees, such as the Wentworth County Dairy Producer Committee, the Dairy Farmers of Ontario Governance Committee, the University of Guelph Research committee, and Progressive Dairy Operators. He is a former member of the Gay Lea Foods Board of Directors. A graduate of the University of Waterloo, Ben currently manages the family dairy farm – Joseph Loewith & Sons Limited – which has been recognized as one of the Best Managed Herd in Canada.
Tom is married to Catherine with three teenage children and is a dairy farmer based in West Yorkshire. Starting from a base of 50 cows when they took the leased farm over from Tom’s parents; today they milk 240 autumn block calvers with a high emphasis on milk from forage. Tom is also co founder and equity partner in Evolution Farming who since 2010 have grown to milking 3,800 cows over 9 sites managing around 9000 acres including arable, beef and sheep and at peak employ 80 staff. Tom is also current vice chair of the UK Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust.
Michael is an enthusiastic and experienced dairy analyst who has been actively involved in the Australian dairy industry for much of his life, including being raised on a dairy farm in northern Victoria. Michael has more than fifteen years’ experience as a professional analyst, researcher and adviser gained through working with Dairy Australia, as part of the Trade and Strategy team before joining the Rabobank Research team in 2011 and has been a friend of ADC for many years in various roles. Michael has an in-depth knowledge of local and global dairy markets and how dairy supply chain’s function. He holds a bachelor degree in international trade from the Victorian University and a postgraduate degree in diplomacy and trade at Monash University.
Joanne is an experienced agribusiness executive working in the dairy industry for over two decades. Her work includes market analysis, forecasting and supply chain strategy development from farm to consumer. While work over the past two decades has been focussed on the Australian and global dairy industries, in her current role Joanne works across a number of agribusiness sectors. Joanne has held senior roles with Dairy Australia and was an analyst at the National Australia Bank and the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (now ABARES). Joanne has been on the board of GippsDairy, the Gippsland dairy industry’s Regional Development Program and has been a member of the Australian Dairy Conference (ADC) Board since 2019.
Mal joined Lactalis in 2014, holding several commercial management and leadership roles before heading up the Beverage and Milk business unit, the largest unit within the company. In 2023, he was appointed Chief Executive Officer. Prior to this, Mal spent around ten years in the drinks industry, with stints at Pernod Ricard Australia and then with Beam Global, culminating in the position of Commercial Director. He has a Bachelor in Business (Marketing & International) from Queensland University of Technology and an MBA from Macquarie Graduate School of Management.
Chris is originally from New Zealand’s Waikato Region and first invested in dairy farms in Australia in 2007 in a time where land prices in New Zealand were increasing and dairy farming was offering poor cash returns. In 2014 he moved to Australia and built the business from the two original farms to nine in total, spread throughout South Australia and Gippsland. His growth in farms is a long-term strategy. All farms have different management structures and include share farmers, managers and contract milkers.
Trent is recognised as a committed and passionate legal specialist for the agricultural sector. He has over 20 years’ experience acting for food and agribusiness clients in a wide range of commercial matters, including complex commercial disputes, corporate and regulatory matters, negotiations, alternative dispute resolution and major pastoral property transactions. He has conducted international arbitrations, lengthy trials in Queensland and acted for major agribusiness entities, large property developers, multinational resource companies, major Government Owned Corporations and large corporate entities. He is a non-executive director on the board of the AAM Investment Group, Beef Australia and Rural Aid and he also enjoys mountain climbing.
I have worked on a dairy farm in the Clare Valley for around 3 years. I started off as a milker and calf feeder during covid, only intending to stay there for a few months.. but here I am, still there, and now the dairy and operations manager. We are milking 500 cows, a mixture of Friesians and jerseys, on a 24 a side herringbone dairy.
Covid introduced me to the industry, my background has all been in childcare and working on outdoor activity centres. It has been a great three years with lots of learning, new experiences and meeting and working with some great people. I am defiantly looking forward to working with Nick in the future, who I have to thank for putting his trust in me and allowing me to do the job I am doing.
Teena is the proud mother of four children (including Paralympian Col Pearse) and the Manager of a farm in Victoria, near Echuca. She manages the farm with her husband and the help of 2 full-time workers, 1 full-time milker and backpackers when needed. They run 500 Holstein, dairy cows calving 3 times a year, with around 200 in each lot, and one of the dry off blocks has the most amazing native flower grasslands which are the best privately owned in Victoria. Teena had a native civet put on it to help protect it from being ploughed in the future. Teena is proud of the work done on the property and says ‘A full cow is a happy cow, and a happy cow is a happy Teena.’
Evan is from a dairy farming family where all family members worked together with a few helpers along the way. At his farm in the Biggara Valley, work includes milking 580 Friesian cows and running roughly 1,700 head of stock across 1,800 acres. Chris is a dry land farmer and always hopes it rains at the right times to grow grass but to also cut and store enough silage. In 2020, during a major bushfire season, Evan’s farm was engulfed by fire and 95% of the farm was lost including hay sheds and over 1,000 ton of stored feed. While no cows were lost,114 in calf heifers perished. However, in the three years since, rain has come mostly when needed and the farm has benefited from a strong milk price.
In 2024, we are thrilled that Johnathan Brown will host the highly popular ADC Gala Dinner, sponsored by Rabobank. Jonathan, an AFL legend and media personality, was appointed as a dairy industry ambassador in 2020 and has helped to promote Australian Dairy through many promotional campaigns and events. Jonathan not only understands the industry but truly believes in it due to his personal connection. He is from a multi-generational dairy farming family and has a genuine and passionate commitment to supporting, promoting and protecting the industry.
Raised on a family farm west of Stanthorpe in Southern Queensland, Tom inherited his parent’s passion for primary production. Now based in Southwest Victoria, Tom has been involved in the dairy industry for 17 years since joining Maxum Foods. As the Business Manager of MaxCare he relishes his involvement in the Australian and New Zealand agricultural industry. Tom is an advocate for dairy and agriculture and is passionate about fostering a positive and united culture in and around the industry. Tom has been part of the Australian Dairy Conference team for many years and he’s back for his final year as the much-loved MC in 2024.
Born in Singapore, Hakim Halim has chosen Melbourne to be his home for the last 13 years. A marketer by trade and ‘food-obsessed’, he founded the retail brand, RIPE that champions only all-Australian cheese. Recently he was awarded the City of Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Small Business of the Year and expanded his business to include Australian free-range cured meats under the brand ‘Cured’. Hakim will be on hand for you to taste and sample at the ADC Welcome Function.