We’re delighted to have an outstanding selection of invited speakers joining us at IFMA 2019. More speakers will be announced as planning proceeds!

Mr Mark Charles Allison
Michael Battaglia
Research Director Agriculture and Global Change,
CSIRO Agriculture and Food
Mirjana Prica
Jane Bennett
Managing Director and CEO,
ASX listed company TasFoods Ltd

Appointed Elders Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director in May 2014. He has extensive experience spanning 30 years in the agribusiness sector. He is a former Managing Director of Wesfarmers Landmark Limited and Wesfarmers CSBP Limited and Executive Director of GrainGrowers Limited. Prior to his appointment at Wesfarmers in 2001, Mr Allison held senior positions with Orica Limited as General Manager of Crop Care Australasia and with Incitec Limited as General Manager – Fertilisers. Between 1982 and 1996 Mr Allison performed a series of senior sales, marketing and technical roles in the Crop Protection, Animal Health and Fertiliser industries. Mr Allison was the Managing Director of Makhteshim Agan Australasia Pty Ltd from 2005 to 2007 and Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Jeminex Limited from 2007 to 2008. Mr Allison is a resident of South Australia.

Dr. Battaglia guides CSIRO’s work in Agriculture and Global Change, work that looks at practice and science to adapt food systems to environmental climate, market and social change.  Previously he formed and then led CSIRO’s work on Agriculture and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation leading among other things to the first national assessment of the potential of the land sector to contribute to mitigation, and supporting government to design and implement its national greenhouse gas mitigation programs.  Battaglia has a background in forest systems science, being the recipient of the International Union of Forest Research Organisations Science Excellence Award for global contributions to Forest Modelling, and having at various times led CSIRO’s and parts of New Zealand’s’ forest science  research capability.  He is leading an incubated company in CSIRO, FutureFeed, that seeks to commercialise anti-methanogenic seaweed, engaging with the Australian and US.

Mirjana is an experienced business and strategy leader in the food and agribusiness industry, with a passion for connecting ideas and devising solutions to deliver maximum benefit. She is currently Managing Director of Food Innovation Australia Limited, a national organisation established to lead the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, and is responsible for driving innovation and market initiatives for Australia.

Mirjana sits on boards and advisory groups for cooperative research centres, universities, research and industry organisations where she leverages her 20+ years of research and commercial experience in food and agribusiness. She also has a strong interest in business development and technology transfer. Whilst at George Weston Foods, part of the Associated British Foods Group, she helped establish a global feed ingredients business that is in the top 3 today. Mirjana has also transformed a testing business that she later went on to manage for the group.

Mirjana is a business-science post-graduate from the University of Melbourne and has worked as a senior research scientist and lecturer at Keele University in the UK. She also spent part of her career as a scientist at CSIRO.

Jane Bennett is the Managing Director and CEO of ASX listed company TasFoods Ltd. Headquartered in Launceston TasFoods is a growing branded food business marketing premium Tasmanian food products under The Tasmanian Food Co master brand. Businesses included in the TasFoods portfolio include Nichols Poultry, Meander Valley Dairy, Pyengana Dairy and Shima Wasabi.

Jane has over 20 years of experience in vertically integrated dairy businesses working in the UK and Tasmania. She has extensive experience in regional provenance branding serving for over 10 years on the Brand Tasmania Council and 6 years as Chair of the Tasmanian Food Industry Council. In 2008 Jane did a Nuffield Farming Scholarship studying the Role of Regionality in the Marketing and Branding of Food.

Jane has worked as a Non Executive Director in a number of companies that currently include Hop Products Australia, Food Innovation Australia Ltd and Nuffield Australia. Previous board positions include the Australian Broadcasting Corporation,  CSIRO, Tasmanian Ports Corporation, Van Diemen’s Land Company and Australian Farm Institute.

Jane was named 2010 Tasmanian Telstra Business Woman of the Year, 1997 Australian ABC Rural Woman of the Year, 1998 Regional Development winner in the Young Australian of the Year Award and 1994 Tasmanian Rural Achiever of the Year.

Derek Baker
UNE’s Centre for Agribusiness and Value Chains
Kate Sutherland
Managing Director,
Burlington Berries Pty Ltd
Dr Brian Hartnett
Matthew Greenhill
General Manager, Agriculture and Manufacturing,
Botanical Resources Australia

Derek is an agricultural economist that has written widely on food, farms, agribusiness and the agricultural industries. He is currently Professor of Agribusiness and Value Chains at the University of New England in Armidale, NSW, and his work primarily deals with competitiveness issues throughout the food and agricultural industries. He holds a First Class Honours degree in Animal Science and Farm Management from Massey University, a Graduate Certificate in Research Management from the University of Melbourne, and a PhD in Agricultural Economics from the Pennsylvania State University. After undergraduate studies, Derek ran the family farm and worked as an agribusiness consultant in New Zealand during the pro-market reforms of the mid-late 1980s. He has since worked in over 40 countries, in the private sector and as an independent consultant as well as at the University of London, Copenhagen University and international research agencies.   Up until late 2013, Derek led Economics and Value Chain research at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to that he managed the Danish Food Industry Innovation project while living in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is the Director of UNE’s Centre for Agribusiness and Value Chains.

I was born in Kent UK. I graduated with Honours in Agricultural Science at University of Wales in 1981.  My family had a dairy farm 20 miles from London and I moved to Australia when I was 25.

The Sutherland family are based in NSW and Tasmania and harvest 2000ha of seed, run 1200 commercial Angus Cows.   Crops are grown both irrigated under pivot and dryland.  Stewart and I started Upper Murray Seeds in 1992 and it is now a national and vertically integrated agribusiness.  Upper Murray Seeds also has a strong focus on research and development and has an international division.

I am the Managing Director of Burlington Berries Pty Ltd, a partnership with Hugh Lowe Farms (UK) an opportunity which provided our family with an opportunity to diversify into horticulture.  We now have 45ha of Strawberries and Raspberries growing in substrate and under poly tunnels producing 1,500 tons of fruit. We employ 16 permanent and up to 500 seasonal staff.  The berries are picked continuously from October through to May.  By 2020 we will have 50ha in production with 1,800 tons.

I am responsible for the higher-level management of the business I have a soft fruit manager who reports to me.  I organise the finance of the projects and lead the team in the direction of the company’s values and vision and report to the board. The main challenges are the weather, pests/disease, skilled labour and the cool chain.

I’ve taken part in Women’s leadership courses and now sit on two horticultural strategic planning boards and the raspberry and blackberry committee.  I like to inspire other women to embrace change and push their boundaries. I am positive about the future and the ability of agricultural entrepreneurs to be innovative, adaptive and progressive.

Stewart and I have four daughters.  All of them have studied agriculture and 2 are working in the family business.

Retired in 2009 as Managing Director of Tasmanian Alkaloids a Johnson & Johnson company after 32 years employment.  Managed a business based on agricultural raw materials processed to add value in Tasmania and exported to global markets.   During this time Tasmanian Alkaloids advanced from start up phase to the world leader in its industry through transformational innovation.

Director of J&J Pty Ltd and J&J Research.  Graduated with a degree in Chemistry from University of Exeter UK and diploma from Manchester Business School.  Collaboration with University of Tasmania as a Council member and Director of the Foundation was recognised with an Honourary Doctorate in 2015.

Believes strongly in long term investment in research and its practical application to build global competitive advantage

  • Matthew is General Manager of Agriculture and Manufacturing for Botanical Resources Australia. BRA are a major producer of pyrethrum, the natural insecticide.
  • Matthew’s current responsibilities span field operations, manufacturing, R&D, quality and regulatory
  • Matthew was a foundation manager with Botanical Resources Australia (BRA) at BRA’s inception in 1996, https://botanicalresources.com/company. Matthew has been fortunate to be a long-term member of the BRA team which has been committed to the commercialisation of the pyrethrum industry in Australia.
  • Matthew joined BRA’s predecessor (BOC Gas’s “Pyrethrum Project”) as a Field Officer in 1991 and has more than 25 years of experience in agribusiness.
  • Matthew grew up on a mixed enterprise family farm on the North West Coast of Tasmania (cropping and livestock). Forever frustrated by the presence of sheep on the family farm, Matthew chose a career in agribusiness management in preference to the mixed farming enterprise. Matthew’s brother Stuart still runs (a much expanded) family farming operation.
  • Matthew has a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Tasmania.
Stephen Creese
Andrew Thompson
Greg Bott
Professor Salah Sukkarieh

Stephen Creese grew up on a family farm south of Launceston.

From a young age he knew he would need to “Think outside the Box” to carve a career for himself in agriculture.

At 20 years of age he started his own contract grain harvesting business which included harvesting on mainland Australia.

He then started leasing land to grow Potatoes and Poppies, he purchased his own first farm at the age of 29 in North East Tasmania

Today Stephens business interest are diverse and large scale.

Managing 23,000 ha in 3 states of Tasmania as well as New Zealand he has developed a unique management model.

In Tasmania his business revolves around not only growing 25,000t potatoes and 3000t Brocolli in joint venture with Simplot Australia but also a 3,500 hd dairy herd and a flock of 30,000 Breeding Ewes and 2,500 Beef Cattle as well as Grass Seed,Clover Seed and Carrot Seed production.

He has been involved in the development of over 3,000 ha of irrigation on farms in Tasmania

His own farming business Creese North East covers 4,000ha of dryland and irrigation in North East Tasmania

He is also the Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand for the Danish based global farming business Ingleby Farms and Forests.

Having being involved with Ingleby Farms for over seventeen years Stephen has a good understanding of global agriculture and where Tasmania sits in the global scheme.

Stephen says the key to running a successful agricultural business of this size is attracting the best staff in the business and empowering them to their full potential it means having good management systems in place from planning, reporting and goal focused.

Tasmanian born into a farming  family  in the south of the state

Have always been associated with farming and livestock

Studied Commerce part time at University of Tasmania in Hobart achieving a Bachelor of Commerce. Then undertook and completed  the  Professional Year with the  Institute of Chartered Accountants and then practised as a chartered accountant for 10 years in Hobart with a particular focus on rural clients

Returned to the family farm at York Plains in the central Midlands in 1986

Became involved with the beef feedlot in 1986 as company accountant on a part time basis

Progressed to managing director  at the Feedlot in 2003 upon retirement of the previous MD and I am still involved in that capacity as well as undertaking accounting duties

I am also still farming in the Midlands on 3 properties of about 3000ha with  my 2 sons. We farm fine Merino ewes for wool and  crossbred  lambs, a small Border Leicester ram breeding flock and an Angus beef herd. Some fodder cropping is undertaken and we grow some Lucerne for grazing. We have more recently introduced some irrigation to our operation.

Greg retired from a forty year banking career in March 2016 where he rose from junior ranks to executive level. The last twenty five years of this period was specifically involved with the rural sector, initially on the North West Coast of Tasmania and state-wide since 1997. His final role was as State Manager for one of our larger rural lending institutions which involved team leadership and responsibility for their substantial asset book. In that role he was a member of bank’s Senior Management Team covering Australia and New Zealand and a rotational member of their Credit Committee, making decisions on larger loan requests in both countries. In retirement he chose to operate as a private consultant and has since grown this position to more than a full time role.

His strong passion has always been to lead teams and achieve business growth.  As the bank’s ability to continue growing began to peak he joined with other senior industry and government leaders to drive economic growth in the state, particularly in the rural space. He was also one of the senior leaders that drove the formation of the Market Tasmania concept which was born from a desire to promote Tasmania’s brand advantage to bring premiums back to farm gate.

This drive to see farms develop led him to retire from banking to focus specifically on helping key farms increase productivity and profitability. Through this approach the gains would benefit, not only the farmers involved, but the state overall. In this period he sat on several Boards with the most recent being Deputy Chair for Northern Tasmania Development Corporation.

His most recent challenge was to help build an organic dairy farming opportunity within the state as the representative of Organic Dairy Farmers of Australia. An aside to this is the opportunity to also grow an organic feed grain market as current sources are only available from interstate at very expensive levels.

Professor Salah Sukkarieh is an international expert in the research, development and commercialisation of field robotic systems. He has led a number of robotics and intelligent systems R&D projects in logistics, commercial aviation, aerospace, education, environment monitoring, agriculture and mining, and has consulted to industry including Rio Tinto, BHP, Patrick Stevedores, Qantas, QLD Biosecurity, Meat and Livestock Australia, and the NSW DPI amongst others. He was awarded the NSW Science and Engineering Award for Excellence in Engineering and Information and Communications Technologies in 2014, and the 2017 CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science.

Deputy Chair Mick Keogh
Tim Burrow
Andrew Hall
Senior Production Manager
Reid Fruits

Mick has a long and diverse history of involvement with the agriculture sector, which has included periods of employment as a farm manager, a university researcher, an agribusiness consultant and an agriculture policy advisor.

In 2003 Mick was appointed Executive Director of the Australian Farm Institute, an independent policy research institute that conducts research into strategic policy issues of importance to Australian agriculture. Mick continued in that role until his appointment as a Deputy Chair of the ACCC in June, 2018.

During his time as Executive Director of the Australian Farm Institute, Mick was also  appointed Chairperson of the Australian Government panel which reviewed drought support measures, and Chairman of the Australian Government’s National Rural Advisory Council from 2012 to 2015.

Mick was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to agriculture in 2015. He holds Bachelors and Master’s degree in Wool & Pastoral Sciences, both obtained at the University of New South Wales.

Mick remains involved in family farming interests in southern NSW.

Mick’s role at the ACCC includes involvement in a range of committees, as well as oversight of the small business, franchising, and agriculture units of the ACCC.

Associate Diploma in Farm Management – University of Adelaide – Roseworthy
Graduate Diploma in Agriculture – University of Western Sydney – Hawkesbury

Tim’s skills and experience include some 30 years of experience across the Agribusiness sector of Australia & NZ including a number of senior management positions within The Emerald Group of Companies, Chemtura & Monsanto. His career is notable for his significant involvement in the establishment of a number of now every day cultural practises including returnable Ag Chemical containers, minimum tillage practise and on farm seed processing.

Tim is passionate about Agriculture and Australian Agriculture in particular and the need to feed the world by being involved with farmers to facilitate growing more food and fibre more effectively, with integrity. He recently took up the position of CEO of Agribusiness Australia.

Andrew has had over 25 years’ experience in the apple, cherry and related industries at a number of levels including orchard development, production, agronomy, quality assurance, sales, sitting on industry advisory groups and conducting skills training. Andrew has recently completed a Diploma in Horticultural Business.

He is currently a senior production manager with Reid Fruits, one of Australia’s largest cherry producers and exporters to over 20 countries. Reid Fruits grows in excess of 1500 T of cherries over two sites located in Tasmania’s Derwent Valley and a new high elevation site located in the Southern Midlands.  This expansion allows Reid Fruits to supply cherries from mid-December until mid-February.  The new site includes a 4 ha, state-of-the-art retractable roof greenhouse which enables delivery of premium quality cherries regardless of the weather conditions.