WESTERN Dairy has a new chairwoman and two new directors.
Waroona dairy farmer Vicki Fitzpatrick, who was first appointed to the Western Dairy board in 2016 and served the past 12 months as deputy chairwoman, has been unanimously elected the new chairwoman.
She replaces Jindong dairy farmer Grant Evans who stood down after two years as chairman but remains on the Western Dairy board as the second longest serving director, having been appointed in 2014.
Ms Fitzpatrick, who has a Masters degree in biological science, brings a combination of dairy science and extension knowledge coupled with hands-on practical farming experience, to the role.
She runs a split-calving 180-cow herd enterprise with husband Luke.
Ms Fitzpatrick has previously run her own consulting practice, specialising in nutrient and grazing management and worked for government research agencies.
Brian Piesse, Boyanup, was elected deputy chairman.
Mr Piesse has extensive corporate governance experience and is the current longest serving Western Dairy director, having been appointed in 2013.
The two new directors are Yelverton and Denmark dairy farmer Andrew Jenkins and Farmwest managing director and genetics and herd improvement specialist Nick Brasher, Bunbury.
Mr Jenkins was seconded to the board last year to strengthen its number of dairy farmers and to share an increasing workload of planning, monitoring and evaluating Western Dairy activities, which includes running the Bunbury dairy research, development and extension hub.
The hub is jointly funded by Dairy Australia and the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development until June, 2020.
A Muresk graduate with a bachelor of agribusiness, Mr Jenkins grew up on a Scott River dairy farm and married Claire who grew up on the Yelverton farm.
They lease and operate the Yelverton farm and a share farmer operates the farm they previously ran for seven years at Denmark.
With modern rotary dairy platforms on both farms, they milk 550 cows at Yelverton, supplying Brownes Dairy and about 500 cows at Denmark, supplying Parmalat’s Harvey Fresh.
The Jenkins also run registered Holstein studs.
Mr Brasher followed his father Rod into the Bunbury-based business which provides a range of herd improvement, liquid nitrogen and artificial insemination services and produces a dairy magazine
“I’ve been mainly involved with the genetics and herd improvement side of things,” Mr Brasher said.
“I’m lucky enough to have worked in the industry I love pretty much my whole life, I know most of the farmers and I hope to contribute through the board,” he said.
Mr Jenkins and Mr Brasher replaced Lion Dairy and Drinks farm services manager Ruben Zandman and Bannister Downs Dairy farm and land manager Mat Daubney who were both appointed in 2015.
Mr Zandman and Mr Daubney cited work pressures as the reason they did not renominate.
In his final chairman’s report Mr Evans outlined a busy year for Western Dairy which included a review of its governance and audit of it internal processes, as well as an upgrade of its constitution which involved a significant workload for the board.
Western Dairy also continued investing in local pasture and smarter irrigation trials, “substantially increased” efforts in environmental management though the DairyCare project, increased support functions around dairy farm finance and “significantly” improved service and participation levels in its dairy traineeships, Mr Evans said.
As previously reported, author and human resources consultant Mandy Johnson was the forum keynote speaker, advising farmers on how best to attract and retain good workers or managers to their farms.
The key was not always how much money was offered, she said, but how a new recruit was invited to be part of a team, how their ideas and suggestions were welcomed and how flexible their job description and working hours could be so they felt involved in the whole operation, not just a small part of it.