2018 VFF Conference

19th July to 20th July
Mercure Ballarat Hotel and Convention Centre
613 Main Rd Golden Point, Ballarat
VIC 3350



The 2018 conference will focus on the advocacy for the 2018 Victorian State Election. We will be looking to invite several guest speakers as well as running workshops.

Click here to see resolutions to be debated at the 2018 VFF Conference (Members login required)

VFF Election

Victorian Farmers Federation CEO and Returning Officer, Stephen Sheridan, has announced elections for VFF President and Vice-President.

Voting will occur throughout July 2018 and in-person at the Victorian Farmers Federation Annual Conference. The results will be announced on the second day of the VFF Annual Conference on the 19th–20th July at the Mercure Ballarat Hotel & Convention Centre.

Voting will be conducted electronically and via postal ballot for members without email contacts. The ballots will be posted from 2nd of July and must be posted back to the Returning Officer by 13th of July.

Electronic voting will begin on 9th of July and will close 18th of July. Members will also be able to vote in person on the first day of the VFF Annual Conference on the 19th of July.

The nominees for VFF President are Mr Craig Ash and Mr David Jochinke.

Craig Ash

A word from Craig’s Keypad. The aim of contesting the Presidential position is at the Numurkah Branch there was issue of people taking on higher order roles and neglecting their lower order positions, knowing David is Vice President of the National Farmers Federation, that at times is at conflict of the Victorian Farmers Federation and there may be a need to have someone take the lower order role to allow complete attention to the higher order role. People don’t always recognise they are taking on too much, the members will be aware if the president is focussed or not. The members will decide. There is also the issue of biannual conference for the members and there is need for annual conference, this is an issue of the new constitution and duration of elected positions.

The president and vice president, elected positions of the Victorian Farmers Federation are held by grain commodity members, it is up to the members to vote to allow variety of commodity represented on the board, or it becomes a one sided game.

When first standing for board nomination in 2012, there were little representation on the board regarding irrigated dairy, during the past ten years, Murray Dairy an area of the Dairy Australia organisation, has highlighted 50% of dairy farmers in this local area have left the industry, there are many factors for retirement/attrition from the industry, one major factor has been the management of irrigation water, some argue decisions made have caused social genocide of the area.

It is complicated problems, and when they are issues beyond region control and nothing constructive is done about it. I am not sure if being involved, that anything can be done, but it we don’t have people standing up, then the same old occurs.
Also to “Stop Foreign Ownership”, it is believed foreign ownership does not contribute to Australian society. Foreign interests in markets is often for controlling purposes. Manipulation of our domestic production and markets has very long tradition here in Australia. When trying to break the international potash cartel, it was maintained in the current nation’s control.
Australian’s seem to have a challenge to aggressively discuss foreign ownership, perhaps a part of our innocence. How much faith can you put into cartel bosses, capital market manipulators, or the oligarchy controlling of the peasants.

We are in a cycle, there is a section of two year terms for the positions, sometimes the current siting person has lost favour, sometimes there is opportunity for a change, let’s make that a potential for the members. Make your vote count.

David Jochinke

David is a third generation farmer who operates a family farm at Murra Warra (30km north of Horsham) producing various broadacre crops and finishing prime lambs.

He studied a Diploma of Applied Science at Longerenong College. He is also the recipient of two scholarships - Nuffield Australia and the Australian Rural Leadership Program. He used these opportunities to gain a broad understanding of global agriculture issues and to build advocacy and leadership skills.

David is an active contributor to his local community holding memberships of the Wimmera Machinery Field Days Committee, the Wallup Ag Group, the Northern Wimmera CFA Brigade and a committee of the Birchip Cropping Group.

David is the current President of the Victorian Farmers Federation. He is also a Director of the National Farmers Federation and a Director of Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water.

“My aim for VFF is to deliver a stronger, unified organisation which works tightly with our peak bodies to ensure greater collaboration and to maximise skills, value and resources across our organisation. I also want to create a platform to provide members easier policy engagement – including the ability to access our policy positions from their desk or their paddock through the VFF website, and for members to provide timely feedback and input on issues critical to their businesses.

I remain dedicated to VFF and ensuring I am always available for member engagement – including calls from members and attending events. In my first term I have succeeded in wearing out a ute – crossing the breadth of the state to listen to our members at branch meetings and commodity events.

This is a great opportunity to build on VFF’s existing values of accountability, performance, trust and our strong reputation. To these I bring my experience and trusted relationships, spanning decision-makers and industry, and I remain committed to delivering positive outcomes for Victorian farmers”.

The nominees for VFF Vice-President are Mr Craig Ash (see above for bio), Ms Emma Germano, and Mr Brett Hosking.

Brett Hosking

Passionate * Connected * Accountable

Hi, I’m Brett Hosking and together with my wife Jane and our four girls we run a mixed farm in the Mallee at Quambatook.

My passion for Victorian farming has led me to serve farmers for four years as the VFF Grains Group President, and a subsequent two years as your VFF Vice President. These roles have highlighted to me the value of good representation for farmers and the huge importance of making sure that the voice of every farmer, large or small, is heard by government and industry at the highest level.

Farmer’s tell me they want strong, unified and accountable leadership of their VFF and this is what I commit to continue to deliver. I work hard to develop connections throughout our industry at a local level in numerous business and community groups, as well as having productive and effective relationships with industry and all sides of government. This ensures greater outcomes for our farmers and our local communities which support them.

I believe that a strong VFF comes through accountability back to our members and ensuring our values reflect those of the people we represent. Many of the outcomes I have played a role in during my time in leadership began with a simple idea from local growers. By working in partnership with members we have then achieved something great for all farmers. This includes improved payment terms for grain farmers, the Port of Melbourne sale, improved rail and road infrastructure, better deals on local government rates, improved telecommunications, better support for rural schools, kindergartens and healthcare.

There is still much to achieve for our farmers in Victoria. This includes better telecommunications, improved infrastructure, increased wellbeing for rural people and their communities and much more. With a state election looming in Victoria, now is the time for a stable and strong VFF to step up on behalf of our farmers and ensure our voice is heard.

Almost one quarter of the value of Agriculture to the Australian economy comes from our Victorian farmers doing what they do best. I am passionate about ensuring our growers are recognised and rewarded for their efforts and we continue to grow farming in Victoria.

Emma Germano

"A community of farmers who together strive to create a financially, environmentally and socially sustainable agriculture for Victoria."

The key to the success of our vision is strong relationships. My best attribute is my ability to forge connections through effective and dynamic communication.

Relationships between Farmers and the VFF
I am passionate about creating networking opportunities between growers, which allows for the exchange of knowledge and experiences. I envision the VFF’s role in this to be increasingly in providing farm services, helping growers do what we do, better.

Our communication strategies must keep up with the times. Policy creation through current mechanisms at the VFF is too slow. They must be nimble enough to create maximum influence.

Unity is strength.

Relationship with Government
The balance of when to entice with the carrot and when to wield the stick is crucial in creating the right relationship between policy makers and the VFF. I believe that it is vital to the viability of the Victorian agricultural industry that the VFF is respected by Government as a powerful lobby for farmers and industry, and that we are ignited by a purpose.

In my view, this relationship has been diminished in recent years to the point where the Government is offended when the VFF disagrees with their policies. The government does not consult with the VFF, and have intentionally misrepresented the organisation as well as our industry. I believe that we need to be more robust and honest in our dealings with all sides of government.

Building Relationship with our Consumers
Consumers are increasingly concerned about where their food comes from and how their food is raised. This community is not just our market and the centre of everything we do, but are urban voters who hold real power in Spring Street and in Canberra.

How much more effective could our lobbying be if the farmers’ voice was united with that of our urban counterparts? We can win back our power in the supply chain if our consumers value us.

Within the leadership team
The primary role of the Vice President is to support the President, or alternatively to kick him in the pants as required.

I believe that the relationship between the President and Vice President in the previous leadership term has not been as strong, open and vigorous as required by the huge demands on the leaders of the VFF. This is an outcome of a cultural issue at the VFF. Now is not the time for conservatism. We are in an environment of declining membership numbers, as well as ever increasing challenges in our operating environments. We don’t have time to be timid, we must be bold, we must be daring.

Respect trumps harmony every time.

Background
• Managing Director of I Love Farms – horticulture, fodder and livestock operation
• Currently developing hellofarmer, a digital solution for farm labour recruitment and HR management.
• Diverse skill set includes a strong financial acumen, experience in marketing and public relations
• Horticulture President and Board Director, VFF

 

The Victorian Farmers Federation intends to publish candidate videos for nominees for VFF President and Vice-President, and make them available to members on the VFF website.



VFF LIVESTOCK COUNCIL ELECTIONS

An election was also called for the VFF Livestock Group. Nominations were called for the following positions:

Livestock President
Livestock Vice-President

Wimmera Representative
Corangamite Representative
North East Representative
East Gippsland Representative
Additional Councilor

No opposing nominations were received for President and Vice-President. As a result, Leonard Vallance and James Kirkpatrick, will be re-appointed unopposed to President and Vice-President respectively at the VFF Annual Conference.

Only one nomination was received for the East Gippsland and North East council positions, so Angus Zilm of East Gippsland and Peter Star of the North East will be elected unopposed as new councilors.

Multiple nominations were received for Wimmera, Corangamite and additional councilor, so the VFF Livestock Group will be running elections for these three council positions.

Michael Craig and Peter Tischler will be contesting the Wimmera position. Chris Draffin and Scott Young will be contesting the Corangamite position. James Tehan, Steve Harrison and Peter Tischler will be contesting the additional councilor position.

The nominees for each position and their corresponding bios are below.

Wimmera

Michael Craig

Michael Craig runs a mixed livestock business in the big Red Gums at Harrow in Western Victoria. With the help of two fantastic team members the business runs 21,000 sheep, for both meat and wool production, 950 breeding cattle and 2800 acres with crops. The business strives for innovation, for example individual animal ID has been used in all animals for over 10 years. This has allowed the business to measure performance of both management and its genetic evolution for issues like finding a genetic path to ceasing mulesing, with the practice ceasing in 2007.

Michael completed a Nuffiled Scholarship in 2016 titled, ‘Sheep/lamb meat: commodity or premium product, looking at the enablers of change’. The enablers of change are coming to fruition. Industry’s collaborative investment in yield measurement, and hopefully eating quality measurement for IMF soon will ensure we have a transparent grading system that can underpin our provenance of “clean, green, quality, sheepmeat’. The challenges of animal welfare must be dealt with by proactive leadership. We can turn potential threats into opportunities. Australian lamb is free range and natural. Let’s deal with a couple of minor animal welfare practices to prove to our consumers we do care for our animals.

Peter Tischler

Peter is a first generation farmer/grazier in south western Victoria with a 3,000 acre property in the Edenhope area. He runs a mixed farming enterprise consisting of mainly sheep and cattle, but is interested in cropping some of the property with lupins, canola and cereals, as well as improving the pastures. He is keen to try new things and over the past 40 years that he has been living at Edenhope he has experimented with different types of sheep, cattle and crops. He seeks out people to advise him about different seed varieties and pasture improvement. He also attends seminars and information sessions to improve his knowledge and keep up with the latest trends and developments in farming.

Peter is a family man who strongly believes in the future of family farms and currently he is helping his son, son-in-law and single daughter to realise their farming dreams by assisting them with shared machinery and advice as they develop their farms and enterprises.

Peter is an active member of the VFF and has held positions as President and Secretary of the local Edenhope group and the District Council. He was a member on the Pastoral Council several years ago and enjoys approaching relevant politicians to present issues and support farmers in their bid to improve agriculture and people’s knowledge of farming in Victoria.

In his local community he has taken on leadership roles willingly. He has been President of the School Council and was instrumental in working through the amalgamation of the Primary and Secondary Schools to become a P12 College. He served as a member of the Luther College Council in Melbourne during the years that his four children attended their final years of schooling there. Peter has been an active member of the local Fire Brigade at Kadnook taking on positions of leadership as group officer, Captain and Secretary/Treasurer. He also served as Group Officer in the Edenhope Fire Brigade Group.

In 2012 he was shortlisted for the Weekly Times/Coles Farmer of the Year in the sheep category. Peter likes a challenge and enjoys seeing tasks through to completion. He is a good listener and likes to help keen young people get into farming. He is often sought out by local farmers for help and advice on what to do with their livestock, cropping or pasture regeneration.

He has nominated for a position on the 2018 Livestock Commodity Council as he has experience, skills and expertise to contribute useful and constructive ideas in the group.

Corangamite

Scott Young

Born and raised just outside of Ballan, Victoria. My name is Scott Young, I am 46 years old and together with my wife, Lisa and daughters, Rachel, 13 and Annalese, 11, we are the third generation on “Fernleigh Park”, a 760ha property. The main activities are Prime Lambs and Cropping.

Our Prime Lamb enterprise consists of approximately 2000 1st and 2nd cross ewes, joined to terminal and meat maternal rams. The cropping side of the business includes between 250-300ha of Canola, Oats, Wheat, Barley and Triticale.

My introduction to farming involved working alongside both my Grandfather and Father. I went onto complete a farm apprenticeship in Ballarat receiving the VFF Pastoral Apprentice of the year in my final year. I was also a shearer locally for 15 years.

Currently I am an active member of Moorabool Catchment Landcare Group, Ballan Vintage Vehicle and Machinery Club, 1st Lieutenant at Mt Wallace CFA and President of a new local farming group called “Farming Moorabool”, which was formed to promote farming within our local shire.

Previously I was on the Rural Advisory section 86 committee established by the Moorabool Shire. Our initial focus was to lobby local/state government for lower council rates for farmers as well as providing advice on other issues.

I am constantly looking for ways to improve my current farming practices and opportunities for diversification.

I have been running an unofficial Moorabool VFF Group, catching up twice a year and discussing local and state farming issues, we get 30 to 50 VFF members along.

Chris Draffin

During the last two years as a Livestock Councillor I have been privileged to witness the success of the VFF Livestock Group on behalf of all Livestock producers in Victoria. We have engaged with all levels of government and had significant wins in shaping our industry’s success. Much of Livestock Councils work goes unseen at the farm; however I am keen to continue working hard to represent the views of all farmers and to fight for a better future for our great industry. I understand the significant commitment of time and effort that is required as a Livestock Councillor and have demonstrated the ability and passion to commit to another term.

Livestock Council has much more work to do. If re-elected I would like to contribute to further policy development and delivery to ensure Victoria remains a world leader in livestock production. I will be advocating for rigorous and science based animal welfare, market transparency and diversity, government accountability in supporting rather than regulating our industry, producer engagement and industry development. I believe as a council we must always bring the views of all members to the debate with an open mind, with the objectivity to see that farmers are given every opportunity to lead the world in livestock production and then sell our produce for a fair return.

Additional Councilor

James Tehan

I am 53 years old, married with four children. Having worked on properties in Tasmania, NSW and Victoria prior to completing a Diploma of Farm Management at Marcus Oldham College I then returned home to run the family farming properties, based in Mansfield. Our business operations include Wool, first cross lambs, beef and farm tourism .I have had extensive committee and Chairperson experience on various community groups including VFF, Schools, CFA, Sporting groups and local government. I am a member of the Victorian Sheep and Goat compensation advisory committee.

I believe livestock farming is facing greater challenges now than ever before, with animal welfare, right to farm, Market manipulation and Bio-Security posing major threats to our livelihood. My focus would be to have clear, strong and united policy direction on these issues.

I am very aware of the importance of farmers a having a strong relationship and voice with Government. Livestock Council has to be that voice. To be effective it has to be pro-active, informed and unified. It must be a dynamic, forward thinking and willing to progress new ideas and initiatives. It must defend our industry and modernise its approach and be relevant to both members and the industry it represents.

In my first term as a livestock Councillor, compulsory sheep EID was introduced into Victoria. Livestock Council played a pivotal role in making sure that Victorian sheep producers were not disadvantaged in this process. I believe that our job is still not finished. Tag subsidies must be maintained until a competitive national tender is established.

With my knowledge, understanding and background I believe I can continue to make a positive contribution to the future of Livestock Council and our industry.

Steve Harrison

Along with my wife, we own and operate a 1500ha property at Giffard West near Sale in Gippsland. We own the Bindawarra Merino Stud, a commercial merino flock and a first cross ewe enterprise, have 100 cows and calves and take on dairy agistment when possible.

I have represented the East Gippsland region as a regional Livestock Councillor for 6 years. During this time, I have gained a solid understanding of the associated peak councils, sub-committees and the people involved in representing their regions. This has taken some time and I feel I can give more to the industry with this knowledge.

Locally, I am the current president of our local VFF branch, a member of the Victorian Stud Merino Breeders Association and life member of the Gippsland SheepBreeders Association which gives me a solid understanding of both local, state and national issues affecting the wool and sheep industry.

During my time, I have taken the opportunity to become involved with the peak council WoolProducers Australia as an Independent Director, further developing my knowledge of the agripolitics required to debate issues at a national level. I will remain on this committee until November 2019.

I attend meetings across all of East Gippsland, which allows me to disperse information to members as well as receive concerns to take to VFF Livestock Council and beyond. Issues such as wild dogs, deer numbers, kangaroos and the social license to farm are topics that are frequently brought to my attention.

Unfortunately urban politics is starting to dictate how we must conduct our farming business and methods. As farmers are now a minority group, now more then ever the VFF needs to maintain it’s voice at a political level. Welfare issues have the potential to swing votes to elect politicians who have little understanding of rural issues. We need to educate city and rural voters about the reality of what farmers do, their stewardship of the land, and their conservation and stock welfare practices.

I have enjoyed my time on the VFF Livestock Council and have made many friends and have learnt a great deal. I do believe I have more to offer if I am elected to this position. I do wish the best of luck to the other candidates and commend them for nominating also.

Peter Tischler

Peter is a first generation farmer/grazier in south western Victoria with a 3,000 acre property in the Edenhope area. He runs a mixed farming enterprise consisting of mainly sheep and cattle, but is interested in cropping some of the property with lupins, canola and cereals, as well as improving the pastures. He is keen to try new things and over the past 40 years that he has been living at Edenhope he has experimented with different types of sheep, cattle and crops. He seeks out people to advise him about different seed varieties and pasture improvement. He also attends seminars and information sessions to improve his knowledge and keep up with the latest trends and developments in farming.

Peter is a family man who strongly believes in the future of family farms and currently he is helping his son, son-in-law and single daughter to realise their farming dreams by assisting them with shared machinery and advice as they develop their farms and enterprises.

Peter is an active member of the VFF and has held positions as President and Secretary of the local Edenhope group and the District Council. He was a member on the Pastoral Council several years ago and enjoys approaching relevant politicians to present issues and support farmers in their bid to improve agriculture and people’s knowledge of farming in Victoria.

In his local community he has taken on leadership roles willingly. He has been President of the School Council and was instrumental in working through the amalgamation of the Primary and Secondary Schools to become a P12 College. He served as a member of the Luther College Council in Melbourne during the years that his four children attended their final years of schooling there. Peter has been an active member of the local Fire Brigade at Kadnook taking on positions of leadership as group officer, Captain and Secretary/Treasurer. He also served as Group Officer in the Edenhope Fire Brigade Group.

In 2012 he was shortlisted for the Weekly Times/Coles Farmer of the Year in the sheep category. Peter likes a challenge and enjoys seeing tasks through to completion. He is a good listener and likes to help keen young people get into farming. He is often sought out by local farmers for help and advice on what to do with their livestock, cropping or pasture regeneration.

He has nominated for a position on the 2018 Livestock Commodity Council as he has experience, skills and expertise to contribute useful and constructive ideas in the group.