Nuffield 2014 Contemporary Scholars Conference (CSC)

Conference videos

Presentations and photographs

Available presentations made as part of the 2013 CSC are listed below:

If you were unable to attend the 2014 ABARES Outlook Conference at the National Convention Centre on 4-5 March, video clips of all the speaker presentations are available for viewing on Youtube. If you didn’t have a chance to attend, here is your opportunity to hear the presenters, which includes 2007 Scholar Murray Scholz.

Photos of the event are available on the Nuffield Australia web site

An Australian perspective

By Nicky Mann, 2014 Australian Scholar

Wow! What can I say? The Contemporary Scholars Conference (CSC) was an absolutely incredible week surrounded by amazingly inspirational people from diverse backgrounds with Australia’s major two cities – Sydney and Canberra – as the backdrop – a total mind blowing experience all round.

It kicked off on Saturday 1 March with a game of “real rugby” at ANZ Stadium in Sydney between the mighty New South Wales (NSW) Waratahs and the Queensland Reds. A small select group with the only “local” scholar (a.k.a. me) got lost getting to the stadium but when in doubt, its good advice to stick with the Irish – being lost is then fun! However, it was thanks to the well- dressed UK scholars with their very clear #Nuffield14 on their jackets that we found our way.

On Sunday, 2 March, we spent time orientating ourselves to a massive line up of impressive presenters and subject. I don’t think any of us will ever look at an egg timer, koosh ball or pipe-cleaner in the same light ever again. There were fantastic presentations by Catherine Marriott (Influential Women) and Danica Leys (NSW Farmers) on social media and social licence.

On Monday, 3 March the tempo stepped up a bar or two. I was very impressed by Rob Napier from Orange, NSW, and all his indicators that he keeps a very close eye on to make his decisions and future planning in his farming business.

Speaker Jane Bennett’s presentation (2008 Scholar) knocked provenance home for me and Mike Sheehy’s outlook (1993 Scholar) from Indonesia’s point-of-view was truly worth taking note of. We were then given a snippet of what is going on in China, Brazil and India and I was truly surprised at what an agricultural power-house Brazil is. I got to learn a lot about the CAP too (Common Agricultural Policy) – which obviously concerns the European Union farmers more than us – but it was good to understand it better.

This second day was broken up with a wonderful picnic lunch overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then an interesting and informative tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens by the knowledgeable Clarence Slockee. The day ended with a gorgeous harbour cruise with food and beverages flowing – a few impromptu native dances from the different countries which brought much entertainment to the crowd coupled with laughter and deep conversations between the scholars – a perfect way to get to know each other in magical surrounds.

Day three (Tuesday, 4 March) started early with group being divided into two. The first group visited the famous Sydney Fish Markets and the second group visited Sydney Fruit and Vegetable Markets. It was a fantastic morning to see where our food comes from the logistics and supply chains which make this happen.

Following the markets, the entire group met up again at Woolworths (supermarkets) headquarters at Bella Vista and got an address by Scott Davidson, Heading of Trading. Followign this, we visited Fairfax Agricultural Media – the home of “The Land” and “Farmonline” media names. We had a lovely BBQ lunch followed by an excellent presentation by the lovely Sally White. By this stage we were quite accustomed to the Nuffield CSC way and “what’s next?” playing on the minds. Next step was Canberra via Gundaroo for an early evening Aussie pub meal.

On Wednesday, 5 March we joined the ABARES ‘Outlook’ 2014 annual Conference in Canberra and were privy to an array of thought provoking speakers including the Hon. Warren Truss MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development.

The afternoon included my first introduction to “Open Space Technology” facilitated by Mel Geltch – an interesting approach to engaging the scholars and I think it was really successful. Following a cocktail function at the National Convention Centre most scholars met up at a local pub where the Irish lead us in a night of singing and dancing, and the first rendition of Irish scholar Tommy Moyle’s ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ – something we will all remember most fondly.

On Thursday, 6 March we were treated to a presentation by Berry Marttin from Rabobank. It was a huge highlight of the week for me, listening to this incredible food producer and rural entrepreneur address us. I think he was a favourite with many scholars. His presentation was followed by Vanessa Goss and Simon Hearn on a subject I had never heard of before: ‘social enabling’. Both speakers were once again very interesting. We then received a snippet of what is happening in UK, The Netherlands and the USA. Then in true Nuffield style we were travelling again – this time to visit the glorious home and farm belonging to the Hyles family. We heard a wonderful story of their farming life and succession planning. It was a truly memorable day in the beautiful Australian climate sitting on the lush lawn of an inspirational farmer and ‘his good ewe’.

This day climaxed with a mighty fine buffet dinner at Parliament House, Canberra, with two Nuffield Scholars Bruce Scott MP, (1983 scholar and Deputy Speaker of the House) and Andrew Broad MP, (2006 scholar) for the Mallee, hosting us and giving us a personal tour of Parliament House – wow!

On Friday, 7 March we were treated to two extraordinary visits. Firstly, the Duralla Organic Egg Farm which was a marvellous example of excellent animal husbandry and innovative ways of producing eggs organically. I learnt there was a breed of dog that actually protects and defends chickens! I was blown away by this operation. Then we moved onto The Mulloon Institute with Tony Coote, the founder, giving us a wonderful tour and explanation of this farm and the reasons why they were doing what they were doing. We had a lovely walk to see the work first-hand, followed by the best egg sandwiches ever from their organic egg farm. The discussions got pretty heated here but I was encouraged by Terry Hehir (1994 scholar) and his response to it all – that all ideas and methods are meant to be challenged to determine their worthiness. Terry then gave an overview of his successful organic dairy which was then counter-acted by Dave Brownhill’s (1998 scholar) “moron” farming view and his successful farming operation which adopts the no-tillage and controlled traffic methods. Both excellent farmers in their own right!

Following a busy day, we had a wonderful BBQ dinner and drinks, which were provided at the Canberra accommodation and it was a lovely way to unwind and get to know each other more in a relaxed and peaceful environment.

The final day it all about presentations and an accumulation of a wonderful week of challenging ourselves, our ideologies, our industries and our values and embracing other people’s point of view.

It ended with dinner at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, sitting underneath fighter planes and relics from World War I and World War II. It was a truly memorable night in the most amazing venue. There is probably no more of a fitting place to bring scholars together from different countries and walks of life than at this venue and the evening was topped off by a solo from Tommy Moyles of Ireland singing the real ‘Waltzing Matilda’ in the full and original version.

What else can I say? It was an enormous week, hosted by an incredible group of people. I convey a huge thank-you to the organisers, committees, hosts and facilitators. It is a week of my life I will never forget. And thank you to my sponsor Horticulture Australia Limited, Nuffield Australia and all the #Nuffield14 scholars for your participation, openness and friendship. Viva #genag!

CSC Closing Dinner at Anzac Hall, Australian War Memorial

Stuart Wright, Chair of Nuffield International, welcomed scholars and guests to The Anzac Hall, at the Australian War Memorial, for the closing dinner for the CSC. He explained that the acronym ANZAC stood for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. He drew attention to the significance of the venue, in particular the Lancaster bomber from WW11, known as G for George, which flew some 90 operations with 27 crews between 1942 and 1944 and under whose wings we were all seated. Stuart also spoke of the history and traditions which had emerged from the cooperation and enjoinment of Australian and New Zealand forces in WW1. 60,000 Australians and 18,000 New Zealanders died in this war on foreign soil, supporting the efforts of European Allied forces.

Jim Geltch recited The Ode, For the Fallen, from the viewing balcony above the scholars:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

After a short pause Jim led the guests with: 'Lest we forget'.

The Ode comes from the fourth stanza of the poem 'For the Fallen' by the English poet and writer, Laurence Binyon, written in September 1914.

Ross Gough has written that while on a coastal walk in Cornwall last year, he visited the bluff (Pentire Point), just north of Polzeath Beach, where Binyon wrote The Ode, while sitting on the cliff-top looking out to sea. A plaque marks the location. It has been adopted by many countries, but especially by Australia and New Zealand as a tribute to all casualties of war, regardless of nation.

Scholars and guests stood for a minute’s silence as a mark of respect for those whose lives were commemorated in the Memorial.

After entrees, Stuart announced that the Nuffield International Board at its meeting this week had decided that The Netherlands, having met all preconditions, would be admitted as full members of Nuffield International. He congratulated the members of the Netherlands Nuffield delegation who had come to Australia for the CSC.

Djûke van der Maat, Chairman of Nuffield Netherlands, announced that Sean O’Brien, 2014 Nuffield Scholar from County Cork, Ireland had been awarded a position (and a bursary of 1,000 euro) to attend the Global Dairy Farmers conference in 2014.

Following the main course, a number of presentations were made by Stuart and Andrew Johnson, Chair of Nuffield Australia: to Ross Gough from Canberra (for his efforts in organising the Canberra components of the CSC); to Jean Lonie from New Jersey in the USA (for her long commitment to Nuffield in the USA, her role as facilitator at this CSC and to her marshalling of proceedings over the week); to Sally Thompson from WA (for her willingness to be a special guest and speaker at the conference); to Hope Pjesky from Oklahoma in the USA (for her long commitment to Nuffield in the USA, and her role as a presenter at this CSC); to Malhi Malwinder Singh from Syngenta, Ludhiana, in India (for his contributions to the conference) and to Su Hao (James) from East Rock Farm Technologies Co Ltd, Beijing (for his contributions to the conference).

Following these presentations, Stuart introduced Andrew Broad MP, National Party Member for Mallee in the Australian House of Representatives, as guest speaker at the dinner. Andrew, a 2006 Nuffield scholar, was elected as a member of the new Australian Government in September last year.

Andrew spoke passionately of the role of the Nuffield scholar, urging all of the new scholars to take up a leading role, not only in their specialised industries but in the broader community. He remarked how often agriculture was often the forgotten industry when governments outlined their policies for economic development.

Following Andrew’s address, the scholar moved further down Anzac Hall to view a special screening of Over the Front: The Great War in the Air. This exhibition showed a range of extraordinary and original aircraft and an exciting visual depiction of a dogfight between flimsy machines of wood, canvas, and wire. At the end of the screening, an eerie silence fell over Anzac Hall, as Tommy Moyle (2014 scholar) sang ‘Waltzing Matilda’, by Scottish born Australian songwriter Eric Bogle.

Both during this heart wrenching and emotionally strained solo, and for several minutes later, you could have heard a pin drop, and was a fitting end to the 2014 CSC.

A UK scholar perspective on the 2014 CSC

By Russell McKenzie, 2014 UK Scholar

What an experience! It is almost difficult to put in to words the whole experience that was the 2014 Nuffield Contemporary Scholars Conference held in Sydney and Canberra.

In an intense week where we learnt so much about the global scale of farming and how we are affected by this, particular highlights were presentations from Berry Martin of Rabobank and Scott Davidson, Head of Trading at Woolworths.

We were also fortunate to meet producer John Hyles who gave us an inspirational talk of how he has developed his business and what his core values were, and attending the ABARES ‘Outlook’ Conference in Canberra was informative. A visit to Parliament House was particularly special as it culminated with a superb dinner. Even the Deputy Speaker of the House is a Nuffield Scholar – we get everywhere!

As the week drew to a close we all had the chance to work in groups for our final presentations and at this point we realised how far we had come and what an amazing group of people the 2014 scholars are. Personal development was amazing to see everyone's confidence grow and realising that as individuals we can all make a difference in our varying sectors within the industry.

The week finished with an amazing final dinner at Anzac Hall beneath a Lancaster bomber at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

It was a truly fabulous way to end the CSC week and during the process I met some great people from different parts of the world who I will know will be friends for life.

What we didn't realise beforehand is that we are not just farmers and growers, but food producers and that we have a vital role to play in helping to shape food production in the coming years.

The whole Nuffield experience is just amazing and if you could bottle that buzz you get when having those deep discussions with other like-minded people about how to shape the future, it would be priceless.

It is the only time as a group of 2014 scholars that we will be together at one time and what a special time that was. I hope there are plenty more like minded young professionals who will be lucky enough to tread in our footsteps in years to come and keep the Nuffield tradition going.

Another UK Scholar perspective on the 2014 CSC

By Gail Lewis, 2014 UK Scholar

The Nuffield 2014 CSC seemed like a daunting prospect some months ago. However, having completed and reviewed the intensive experience I now realise I should only have been excited. Yes, I was stepping out of my comfort zone, but what I was actually doing was engaging with 60 other scholars and associates from across the world with a common aim of securing a sustainable future for the agricultural industry.

At the CSC we all wanted to inspire each other and I now realise that the best knowledge and experience is gained from those positive individuals.

By the end of the week we were all firm friends having as listened to informative and eloquent individuals address us on topics from diversification, Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), global trends, social media and succession to name a few and then as a group discussing those ideas we had heard and questioning them.

I have two major highlights from the conference, the first being an exceptional talk from Berry Martin of Rabobank on the challenges to agriculture and succession of the family farm. Secondly, the farm tour to the Hyles family where they had used diversification to ensure the purchase of the family home. During this particular visit I became aware that a farm is a business and should not solely be inherited. Any individual entering the farm must bring in something different and value the asset they hold.

The CSC has broadened my horizons and set me in good stead with a wealth of contact to further my Nuffield studies.

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