A certain breed of hero… celebrating our dairy elders

In 2019, the Australian Dairy Conference celebrates its dairy elders with the spotlight on inspiring dairy women profiling their stories, dairy journey and why they are so passionate about the industry they love.

Resilient, proud and resolute, these women have endured every dairy scenario you could fathom over careers spanning more than 50 years often breaking new ground and frontiers along the way.

As the concluding session for ADC Canberra 2019, award-winning broadcaster, journalist and author Virginia Haussegger will introduce us to three women dairy elders who have stood the test of time, with a yarn or two to tell along the way.

Marie Farley– Kempsey, New South Wales

At 87 years of age, Marie Farley still gets up at 5am every morning to fetch 110 dairy cows for the morning milking. Over 60 years ago she married husband John and together they operated their 80ha property with nine children in tow. After the passing of John, Maries continued to operate the farm with the assistance of her sons. Marie has farmed through flood, drought and recessions with no intention of stopping any time soon.

Jan Raleigh– Timboon, Southwest Victoria

Jan Raleigh has farmed on her family property since the 1970s. Like many young women of the era Jan was encouraged to obtain a more ‘lady-like’ profession off the farm so trained as a midwife in Melbourne. When her father passed away Jan returned home to help her mother run the dairy operation. What started as short-term has become a lifelong commitment to dairy farming. Jan, now 77, shows no signs of slowing down with one of the top Aussie Red herds in Australia and is well-known for being a top class breeder with a contagious ‘can-do’ attitude.

Edna Winifred Oslear– Toolijooa, South Coast New South Wales

Best described as a ‘die hard dairy lady through and through’, Edna or ‘Winnie’ as she more affectionately known, at 74 runs her own Jersey stud and still rears calves and continues to sell registered animals to every state in Australia (except NT). She has won Champion Cow at the Sydney Royal Easter Show and is a proven breeder of superior animals. Now semi-retired, Edna has been a staunch advocate and supporter of the school-based Cows Create Careers and frequently takes on ‘high needs’ and problem youth for weekend work in her dairy to give them a more meaningful future.

The Australian dairy industry is the beneficiary of such a rich history and personalities, hence this year the aim was to highlight some of the remarkable stories particularly of some of our female dairy elders according to ADC Programming Chair Susan Wearden.

“Legends of the industry, these three ladies have seen more than their fair share of the ups and downs of the Australian dairy industry.

“More specifically, they have been successful famers and thrived amongst decades of change from innovations across farm environments, manual assistance, technology and equalities in the workplace (quite often simultaneously whilst also raising a tribe of children),” she said.

“Their efforts and achievements have definitely made an impact and have paved the way for a new breed of female dairy farmer in today’s industry,” said Mrs Wearden.

“Our theme for ADC 2019 is all about being bold, brave and brilliant and we think these women and dairy elders truly epitomise this sentiment in everything they have achieved and overcome,” she said.

Register now for ADC Canberra 2019.

Farmer registration is $880 including two days of Conference proceedings and social functions.