TWO young Australian dairy professionals are gaining valuable lessons from a recently launched Dairy Australia scholarship, developed in association with the New Zealand Centre of Excellence for Farm Business Management.
Roisin Dunne of Queensland and Benjamin Vagg of Victoria began their one-year postgraduate farm business management (FBM) studies this year in New Zealand at Lincoln University in Christchurch and Massey University in Palmerston North respectively.

The pair are the first recipients of the annual Dairy Australia FBM scholarship program, part of the Australian dairy industry’s commitment to grow business capability.

A La Trobe University agricultural science and business graduate, Mr Vagg is from a farm near Leongatha.

“I wanted to get into FBM, knowing down to the detail about how to run a farm business,” he said. “I was always going to do post-grad study in agri-commerce. It’s been great to be able to come to New Zealand for that – it’s what their whole economy is based on.”

Mr Vagg said the freedom of shared information and farm data in New Zealand clearly helped build the industry’s professionalism.

“New Zealanders are very focused on performance and the benchmarking process,” he said.

Miss Dunne, who is from Beaudesert, worked in Brisbane for a stock feed company after graduating from the University of Queensland with an agricultural science degree. She said she was thrilled to be able to study in another country and develop a new skill set.

The graduate diploma course Miss Dunne was undertaking had been challenging at times, as she was new to the FBM space, but also because the New Zealand dairy system was so different from Queensland.

“I have found farmers here very similar to back home though,” she said. “I really enjoyed a five-day tour of South Island farms and five different farming systems during a break in semesters. I’m looking forward to a similar tour in the North Island later this year.”

Both students have had one-one-one interactions with farmers, facilitated by the universities, to gain a greater understanding of the individual farming systems and financial positions of the operations as part of their advanced FBM paper.

Other papers they have focused on include natural resource management, dairy co-operatives and governance, and international agribusiness systems.

With the focus for both students firmly on completing their courses in November they are still undecided as to their next career step. Miss Dunne said working in dairy extension and getting out on farm appeals, while Mr Vagg said he wanted to interact directly with farmers, perhaps as a dairy consultant.

“Anyone who is an undergrad should seriously think about applying for the scholarship,” Mr Vagg said.

“It’s been a full-on and interesting experience for me where you just learn so much.”

The deadline for scholarship applications closes October 16. For further information visit the Dairy Australia website

Source: Dairy Australia