Pastures & Cropping

Grassland society commits to fight for its future

Sheep Central, March 27, 2024

GSSA president Tim Prance.

THE future of a society that has connected livestock farmers, scientists and agricultural consultants for 65 years is on the line, according to farm consultant Tim Prance.

Mr Prance is president of the Grassland Society of Southern Australia that is planning its annual conference in Bendigo on July 17-18.

However, Mr Prance said if the GSSA fails to attract sufficient numbers or post a profit it could lead to the society’s demise.

“We are committed to revitalising the society, but it requires drastic measures and support from members,” he said.

“Failure to succeed may lead to the society’s closure.”

GSSA has successfully promoted the business of grass, science and farming for 65 years with six branches in Victoria, South Australia and southern New South Wales.

The society’s board recently reconfirmed the GSSA purpose ‘to cultivate a network within the south-east Australian pasture-based industry, fostering informed, evidence-based business decision making’ and vowed to fight for its future.

Mr Prance said he believed there was still an important role for the society but it needed more support.

“We want to ensure the grassland society thrives but to do that we need member support otherwise we won’t be around for much longer.”

Mr Prance said volunteer efforts had sustained the society but changes in government regulations resulting in additional compliance costs, along with reduced government support, had led to more reliance on paid staff.

“We have hired an executive officer to boost income and governance, but challenges persist, and volunteer participation has declined.”

Mr Prance said project income was slow, COVID-19 disrupted events, volunteer shortages led to cancelling the 2023 conference and regional branches struggle due to lack of volunteer support.

Despite the challenges, Mr Prance said a recent meeting of board and branch representatives had committed to revitalising the society.

“We looked at it as a group and believe the society still has a place as an information network and that it’s worth pursuing,” he said.

The review prompted GSSA to write to current and former members in a “call to arms” for active support and to try to generate new membership.

Mr Prance said cancellation of the 2023 conference had impacted membership and finances.

“A lot of members come from conferences and the fact that we didn’t have a conference last year meant no new members and a lot of existing members didn’t renew.

“This year we need a well-attended and profitable conference and to cover expenses through memberships and sponsorships,” Mr Prance said.

“We have trimmed costs as much as possible, including changes to office management, membership database and website maintenance, but we need our members to get behind us if we are to survive.”

Mr Prance said there had been a positive response to the letter, with current and former members expressing concern about the future of the Society but supporting the board’s plan to ensure it thrives for years to come.

“I am quietly confident we will pull through with the help of an energetic board and a committed and active conference committee,” he said.

The July 17-18 conference will follow the theme ‘Evidence-based decision making’ and is designed to help producers make informed decisions that are right for their enterprises.

Mr Prance said the conference would help producers make informed decisions that are right for their enterprises and provide hands-on information to get them started on their carbon farming journey.

The conference will feature a bus tour and interactive workshops. It will be based at All Seasons in Bendigo. To register, visit, call 1300 137 550 or email [email protected].


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