FARMERS have welcomed the appointment of former independent parliamentarian Cathy McGowan as AgriFutures Australia chairperson.
Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt this week announced the appointment of Ms McGowan for a three-year term to replace former chair Kay Hull, who retired from the role late last year.
Ms McGowan is a sixth-generation farmer from north-east Victoria who has held various leadership roles in rural and regional organisations, including as president of Australian Women in Agriculture and as an independent Member of Parliament.
She was the first independent member for the north-east Victorian electorate of Indi and the first female independent to sit on the federal parliamentary crossbench.
National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson said Ms McGowan has an extensive understanding of agriculture and rural communities, placing her extremely well to lead the work of AgriFutures to deliver for the sector.
“The NFF has a strong relationship with Cathy, having worked closely during her time in parliament on a range of issues impacting Australian farmers.”
Ms Simson said integral to the NFF goal to reach $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030 is its ambitious 2030 Roadmap and one pillar ‘Unlocking Innovation’, a pillar with direct links to the work of AgriFutures.
“We are an industry that never sits still and unlocking emerging industries, new technologies and embracing research and innovation is key to our success and is a shared vision between the NFF and AgriFutures.
“The NFF is a declared Representative Organisation for AgriFutures, a role we place significant value on to ensure industry visibility, input and engagement in the important work AgriFutures undertakes,” Ms Simson said.
She looked forward to working closely with Ms McGowan and the AgriFutures team on important cross-sectoral and emerging rural issues.
Mr Watt welcomed Ms McGowan into the position and said he was looking forward to working with her on building the innovation, sustainability and success of the agriculture sector.
“The appointment of Ms McGowan as chairperson of AgriFutures Australia will continue to provide strong leadership for the corporation and industry.
“AgriFutures Australia is uniquely placed, as it supports a wide range of established and emerging industries and addresses national rural issues across the agriculture sector,” Mr Watt said.
“Ms McGowan’s past experience in the Australian Parliament as the Federal Member for Indi means she is well positioned to be a strong advocate and leader for the organisation and sector.”
He said Australia’s rural Research and Development Corporation (RDC) model is the cornerstone of the nation’s agricultural innovation system.
“Our RDCs allow industry an opportunity to invest in targeted research and development and marketing to drive productivity, profitability and sustainability.”
Ms Simson and Mr Watt thanked Ms Hull for her work in the role.