Ella joins the board in the role of Farmer Director. Ella and her husband Jed own and operate several farms in Ecklin South and moved to the south-west six years ago. Although both Ella and Jed have formal Agribusiness qualifications, they were not from a farming background, a love of agriculture and business opportunities drove them to pursue a career in the industry.
“Neither of us grew up on a farm but we have worked extremely hard to realise our dream of farm ownership. It takes a lot of passion to get to this point and we are very committed to the industry and what it offers us and our team,” Ella says.
“We started the journey on a 50/50 share farming model then moved to farm leasing which evolved to farm ownership. We still operate a blend of both ownership and share farming arrangements and milk over 1,500 cows. It’s fair to say that we are in it for the long haul!”
A desire to give back to the industry and to continue to see it succeed drove Ella to join the WestVic Dairy Board.
“It’s important to me to give back to the industry and it’s an opportunity to be a part of the decision making in our region,” she explains.
Ella says a part of wanting to be more involved in leadership roles is to share the example that you don’t have to have to be a part of a farming family to have a career in dairy.
“There are other ways and means to transition into the industry,” she says.
“I’m excited about the large number of young farmers in the south-west who are so engaged – there is a real enthusiasm about dairy and a drive to learn from others and have a career pathway in the industry.”
In addition to the farm business, Ella also has 15 years’ experience in the agribusiness finance industry.
Bruce joins the board in the role of Associate Director. Bruce has been in his role as a Senior Sales Representative at Zoetis for nearly 10 years and has significant agricultural business experience with supply companies to the dairy industry. Bruce grew up on a non-dairy farm in South-west Victoria and became involved and passionate about the dairy industry through his work.
“It’s an industry full of opportunity. Dairy farming in the region is interesting, vibrant, and fast-moving with a lot of new technology,” Bruce says.
Bruce is enthusiastic about the constant improvements new technologies bring.
“I think one of the biggest opportunities is making the most of new information and technology to build sustainable farm businesses,” he explains.
Over his years in the agricultural industry, Bruce says he understands the complexities of running a farm business.
“There are a lot of moving parts of dairy farm business, and each is as important as another,” he says.
“It only takes one aspect to go wrong and everything else is affected. I would like to support farmers in the region to enhance all aspects of their farm business.”
WestVic Dairy welcomes the strategic and operational perspectives Ella and Bruce will bring to the board and their passion for the region’s dairy industry.
A board meeting was held immediately after the AGM to elect office bearers. Allansford farmer Brendan Rea was elected as Chair and Bessiebelle farmer Will McDonald was elected as Vice-Chair. Agribusiness banker Rhonda Henry will continue as treasurer after her reappointment to the board.
Brad Collins has retired, and Jacqui Suares has stepped back from her role as Chair and remains a director.
WestVic Dairy Chair Brendan said, “we thank Brad for his positive contributions to the board over his three years as Director and we sincerely thank Jacqui for her leadership during her time as Chair.”