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Skills for enthusiastic rural entrepreneurs.

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BACK Home | Media Releases DAFF07/053SL - 14 August 2007

Skills for enthusiastic rural entrepreneurs

Sixteen innovative young men and women from across Australia will hone their business talents by participating in the Australian Government’s Enhancing Entrepreneurial Skills Course.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Sussan Ley, today announced the names of successful applicants for the course, to be held in Melbourne from 10 13 September 2007.

“Participants come from across the supply chains of a range of industries including pork, horticulture, cattle, seed production and agribusiness,” Ms Ley said.

“We have selected a group of 18-35 year old budding entrepreneurs who are enthusiastic about growing their businesses through innovation. This course aims to help young Australian farmers and business people to recognise opportunities and adopt a market-driven approach to their business.

“Participants will explore the big picture of their operating environment and supply chain, as well as the fundamentals of growing their business, developing markets and putting new ideas into action.

The course builds on the success of the first Course that was held in May 2007. Graduates of that course reported that they have more confidence and know-how to build their business and explore and exploit opportunities.

“By blending and sharing their diverse skills and experiences, participants get unique insights into challenges and opportunities that extend beyond their own businesses and industries to the entire agricultural sector,” Ms Ley said.

Further information about the course is available by calling (02) 6272 3292 or by visiting

Details of the participants in the Enhancing Entrepreneurial Skills Course follow.

Background information:


Natasha Dunne, 27 - Rockhampton, QLD In 2003, Natasha established Harvest Hotline Australia Pty Ltd (Hha), a recruitment and contracting company dedicated to servicing primary industries, now specialising in harvest recruitment. The business aims to provide an efficient, cost effective solution to all workforce needs so the client’s business can run smoothly. In 2005, Natasha won the Australian Institute of Management Young Business Manager of the Year (Rockhampton Region).

Susan Gleeson, 32 - Brisbane, QLD Susan is the proprietor and general manager of Farm Gate Training, a registered training organisation. Through her business, Susan has helped workers in the beef, feedlot, poultry, pig, water catchment, lamb, wool and equine industries to enhance their skills so they can continue to successfully contribute to the rural sector. Susan is a member of the Queensland Rural Women’s Network, Regional Women in Business and Australian Women in Agriculture.

David Graham, 27 - Goondiwindi, QLD After working extensively in Agriculture since 1996, David began farming in his own right in October 2006 as a leaseholder of a Grain/Sheep enterprise in South Western Queensland. His ambition is to have his property, and the Dorper Cross Prime Lambs he produces, organically certified. To ensure viability of his business, David took off-farm work as a TV personality to raise awareness of the effects of drought and the need to connect farmers to city dwellers. Recently, David was a keynote speaker at an Agforce Youth Forum where he launched his nationwide home-delivered ‘Farmer Dave Lamb’ brand.

Michael Lyons, 33 - Charters Towers, QLD Michael is a manager of Wambiana Station which runs up to 3,000 head of cattle. He also plays an integral role in the on-property tourism business which hosts up to 1,000 American high school students annually, providing them with an authentic Australian Outback Experience. Michael is active in supporting the rural community through the North Queensland Beef Research Committee, as President of Upper Burdekin Progress Association and is a member of AgForce.

Ross Newman, 28 - Mareeba, QLD Ross is a manager at Southedge Seeds, a privately owned company which is recognised as a market leader in the tropical pasture industry in Australia. Ross implemented a domestic marketing plan that has increased company wholesales by 150% in two years and he has since been offered a partnership in the business. During this time, the business has also commercialised a fully patented seed treatment process that is new to the international and domestic tropical seed market.

James Walker, 27 - Longreach, QLD James is the manager at Wakefield Grazing, a family based primary production enterprise that owns and runs two grazing properties in Central Western Queensland. His recent achievements include managing the first major consignment of sheep for live export from Queensland and receiving a bursary to attend and speak at a State Landcare Conference. James has also contributed to a state wide DVD launch for conservation, land care and property development in Queensland.


Drew Braithwaite, 26 - Griffith, NSW Drew is the owner and manager of Braithwaite & Co, a mixed irrigation family farming operation that produces rice, wheat, canola, cattle and sheep. Activities are complementary and ensure maximum return per mega-litre of water. Drew’s key

achievements include the expansion of the business to achieve economies of scale, and the implementation of new flood irrigation systems.

Damien Cofield, 31 - Corowa, NSW Damien is a general manager and winemaker at Cofield Wines. His achievements as General Manager include an expansion of the business and increased direct sales following a review of the business sales plan. Cofield Wines was a co-founder of “Young Bloods of Rutherglen”, a promotional group which has increased consumer awareness of events, activities and produce in their region.

Joshua Curry, 34 - Quandialla, NSW Joshua is a Director of Bland Agricultural Services and partner in the family farming business, Curry Partnership. Joshua and his wife established Bland Agricultural Services two years ago, an agribusiness designed to give local growers a complete service for dryland cropping from "Seed to Silo". This includes providing agronomy advice and a

full cropping contracting service.

Adrian Maguire, 22 - Grose Vale, NSW Adrian is the manager of Enniskillen Orchard and has helped change its business focus from strictly primary production to retail and tourism. This has included developing a café, themed herb garden and conducting group tours of the farm. Adrian sees water supply as a current challenge facing their business and is working to address this through the design of an "Irrigation Drainage Management Plan", including water recycling and wetland filtration.


Mark McLean, 32 - Waikerie, SA Over the last eight years, Mark has been the farm business manager for Riverhaven Enterprises. While being actively involved in expanding the pig farm, Mark has also developed a premium boutique brand of olive oil that has already won many awards throughout Australia and is sold through a national retail supermarket chain. In 2006,

Mark was awarded the Environmental Stewardship Award for South Australia from Australian Pork Ltd.

James Robertson, 34 - Renmark, SA James is the Pastoral Manager at Robertson Chowilla Pty Ltd just out of Renmark on the River Murray. As Pastoral Manager, he has helped steer the company out of drought and into a stronger position, significantly increasing its sheep numbers and increasing lambing percentages. In the future, James would like to explore the potential of agri-tourism and organics on the property.


Tim Kingma, 29 - Gunbower, VIC Tim is a production manager at Gunpork Joint Venture. Since taking this position Tim has introduced a new in-house breeding program, one of the first attempted by a commercial farm. Tim’s management has contributed to a 10% improvement in production. In the future, Tim aims to increase the farrowing rate through improving genetics, nutrition, health and staff training.

David Nash, 33 - Longwarry, VIC Over the last three years, David has been active in the stockfeed industry as a nutritionist supporting key domestic and international clients. Currently, David is a

technical manager and nutritionist at Southern Cross Feeds where he has found uses for their waste product, converting it into pellets used by the stockfeed industry during

times of drought. David is also a Director of the Australian Quarter Horse Association and a past Director of the Australian Paint Horse Association.


Taraeta Nicholls, 29 - Trayning, WA Taraeta, the owner of a mixed grain and sheep farm in Trayning, applied for and installed a salinity deep drain that is now being used as a national model. The deep drain has enabled her to crop land that has not been cropped for more than 40 years. Taraeta has begun to diversify the farm income with the creation of Aquarian Craft. Trading in an e-commerce environment, she has achieved exponential business growth and now supplies stock to several outlets.

Simon Shearing, 27 - Bruce Rock, WA Simon is a manager on his family farm which runs merino sheep and produces wheat, barley, lupins and canola. One of his key achievements has been the introduction of a ‘minimum till’ seeding system and the incorporation of crop chemicals which have significantly increased crop yields. To ease the burden of heavy fuel costs, Simon has explored the option of bio-diesel using canola grown on the farm.

Further media inquiries:

Ms Ley's office: Verity Williams 02 6277 4503 or 0428 213 264

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