By Michelle Slater
A Tambo Crossing beef producer has returned from a four-day trip to Canberra after being named as one of seven Cattle Council of Australia Rising Champions leadership program participants.
Jen Smith was part of the mentoring program with participants picked from each state and territory, meeting with senior industry representatives and gaining an insight into beef industry governance.
Ms Smith also won a special chief executive advocacy prize and a Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment secretary prize in recognition of her leadership and understanding of issues.
The beef and sheep producer began farming about 15 years ago running an Angus breeding program on her East Gippsland property with husband Brad.
She is also the Gippsland Agricultural Group general manager, a producer-led group which operates the Gippsland Research Farm, trialling and demonstrating projects for farmers.
“I wanted an opportunity to see how government peak bodies and industry groups work, and how our levies are used, and how can we influence governments to help the beef industry stay strong,” Ms Smith said.
“It was inspiring to see so many professionals advocating for the industry. How do we position ourselves as grower groups to influence decisions from governments to support our prosperity?” Ms Smith said she had been working on the ground with the Gippsland Agriculture Group to help the community recover from being hit by fires and droughts.
She said the Canberra trip helped her learn the skills to help represent the needs of her community and local producers.
She said one of the highlights was meeting with Commonwealth Department of Agriculture officials learning how programs were rolled out and how the government responded to bio security.
Ms Smith said she would like to see a more long-term approach taken in the deployment of government programs and initiatives.
“Canberra is definitely a bubble, but hopping into this bubble for a few days to understand how the industry is being run will hopefully be helpful in making what I do locally more effective,” she said.
“I learnt to accept the things I can’t change and discern my ability to understand which levers we can pull as producers.
“It makes me proud to be a producer in Australia and I’ve come back with a renewed energy to contribute.”