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The GippsDairy Board is made up of six dairy farmers and four others with specialised skills in business, governance and industry. Review our board members' skills and backgrounds here.

Selection of GippsDairy Board members 

GippsDairy engaged an independent Selection Panel to recommend the following appointments to our board. These recommendations are based on skills, experience, and readiness to contribute in the role. There are 10 director positions on the board and each member is appointed for a two-year term. While terms are unlimited, most Directors complete two to three terms. 

Grant Williams - Chair

 

Grant and his wife Leesa purchased their dairy farm at Hallora in 1996, after share farming for eight years at Yannathan.   Grant has been an active member of many local community and sporting groups. He also has been a member of many discussion and focus farm groups. GippsDairy welcomed Grant to their Board of Directors in October 2012.

 

Lauren Finger - Deputy Chair

 

Yannathan dairy farmer, Lauren Finger, sees the GippsDairy Board as a first step in developing a leadership role in the dairy industry. Lauren's experience includes working as a vet in private practice, and working with the Department of Primary Industries. 

As well as being a mother to 3 young children, with husband Simon, Lauren runs a growing dairy farm business. Lauren and Simon milk 400 cows on a 340 acre farm that was once the home of inaugural GippsDairy chair, the late Don Campbell who was a passionate advocate of encouraging young dairy farmers 

Around the board table, Lauren said she would push for initiatives that promote farm profitability, seeing it as a great opportunity to learn more about the industry, about how the board operates and how the industry operates – where dairy levy money goes and how it is spent. 

Ross Anderson

 

 

Ross Anderson has spent the last 10 years on the family farm in Denison after a decade working as a carpenter both interstate and overseas. His time away from the industry has given him an appreciation of dairy farming and he has embraced the lifestyle since coming home. Ross gained additional experience participating in Victorian Government agriculture programs and the Murray Goulburn Supplier Consultative Committee

Ross currently share farms/farm manages with his parents Graeme and Chris and is responsible for day-to-day operations on the farm. Ross’ knowledge of irrigation farming toads to GippsDairy’s decision making abilities regarding the Macalister Irrigation District.

Brian Gannon

 

Brian Gannon joins the GippsDairy Board as a Specialist Director, bringing his skills as an agribusiness manager for NAB in Leongatha.   With a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and having grown up on a dairy farm, Brian provides a balanced viewpoint on financial matters.

Brian has been exposed to dairy extension practices through his involvement in discussion groups and has participated in Focus Farms at both Loch and Leongatha South. He was selected in 2012 for the Marcus Oldham rural leadership program, which offered insights into the difference that can be made by the actions of one person in a community. 

Brad Missen

Brad Missen comes to the GippsDairy board with a wealth of industry experience under his belt.   A Denison dairy farmer, Brad was part of the team that started YDDP (YDNA), as well as being on the steering committee for the first few years. He has also been a long-term member of the Denison Discussion Group.

Brad has been in support groups for a number of Focus Farms, including the current one at the Macalister Demonstration Farm.

With a keen interest in the development of the Macalister Irrigation District, Brad has been involved in Southern Rural Water’s Macalister Customer Consultative Committee, which he current deputy chairs.

Brad manages the family farm he grew up on. 

 Dan Armstrong

 

Dan Armstrong is a Jindivick farm business management consultant, helping the board provide opportunities to further develop farm systems management which is particularly crucial in the current economic climate.

With his broad experience in the research development and extension area, Dan is also able to provide the expertise to develop programs aimed at building wealth within the industry.

Running his own consulting business specialising in farm business management, Dan has provided analytics for individual farmers and at an industry level, which the board believes will help contribute to the development of GippsDairy programs.

 Richard Shephard

 

Maffra’s Richard Shephard has combined a veterinary career with his involvement with research and extension programs as well as farm consulting.

This combination will bring a unique insight to GippsDairy and will help broaden the knowledge base available to the board.

Dr Shephard, who has worked as a clinical vet, farm management consultant and, most recently, an industry level consultant, has skills and abilities that can help broaden the boardroom discussion when looking at issues and problems.

Shiona Berry

 Shiona Berry 

Glen Alvie dairy farmer Shiona Berry wants to encourage innovation during her time on the GippsDairy board. Milking 750 cows with husband Caleb on hilly country, Shiona can see huge potential in digital developments like virtual fencing.

“I love a bit of innovation, so I’d like to bring that discussion to the table,” she said.

“I’m a bit in love with virtual fencing at the moment, I can really see the benefits of it, especially in hilly land.”

Shiona, who has a background as a ruminant nutritionist, said innovative thinking could change the way the Gippsland industry looks at home grown feed, making a big difference to profitability.

“I would like to see improvement in the home-grown fodder side of things and increasing our returns of our own land,” she said.

“I would like to see more multiple cropping and trying to get more growth out of land.”

David Johnson

 David Johnson 

Neerim South’s David Johnson joins the Board after a career in dairy that has been different to most.

He has spent time in the US state of Minnesota and in northern Victoria, where he studied farming systems very different to West Gippsland, as well as being a partner in the successful Tarago River Cheese Company.

Having last year been awarded a scholarship to complete the Australian Owner Manager Program at the University of Queensland, David thought it was a good time to share some of his knowledge with the wider dairy industry.

“It’s a chance to give back to an industry that has been good to me over the years,” he said.

“I think with my experience, not only on the farm but with the specialty cheese side of things as well, it gives me an insight into value-adding products, quality of milk and has given me a pretty good network around the place.”

“I also see that we need to get smarter about how we employ people and smarter about how we look after animals.”

 Michelle Axford

 Michelle Axford 

DataGene evaluation manager Michelle Axford said joining the board seemed like a good fit after two decades of working in the dairy industry.          

“I have broad interests in dairy, outside of my paid job, having been involved in Cows Create Careers and the Young Dairy Development Program when it was just getting off the ground,” she said.

“I’ve been working in parallel to GippsDairy for most of my 20 year career in dairy, so I’ve always been interested in what GippsDairy has been doing.”

Michelle, who milks 250 cows with husband Michael at Korumburra, said she would like to use her on-farm experience and knowledge of genetics to help GippsDairy deliver better outcomes for the region’s farmers.

“We are fortunate to have some really good research outcomes that are still yet to be taken up by a broad spectrum of farms,” she said.

“For some farms that may be doing something different in the genetics space, for others it might be doing something different in the pastures space.”

   

Major Initiatives

Focus Farms

Dairy Australia has established a network of Focus Farms to support farmer decision making.

DairyBase

DairyBase is a web-based tool that enables dairy farmers to measure and compare their farm business performance over time.

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