NEW Grasslands Society of Southern Australia president, Mansfield’s Matt Mahoney, wants the society to reinvent itself to grow its membership base.
Dr Mahoney has been a member of the society since he left university and said it had a big role in helping farmers to be productive and profitable.
However, he said it is facing stiff competition and must change to remain relevant.
“Where we’ve come from historically as a society and where we’re going to in the future is possibly going to be completely different.
“We need to continue the good work the previous president and central committee have started to make on giving real value back to our members,” he said.
The society has about 550 members and attracts about 200 people to its flagship annual conference. Dr Mahoney along with the central and branch committee members would like to grow this significantly.
One significant change being considered this year is employing a part-time liaison person to help with important tasks which currently rely on volunteered time to get done.
“Relying on volunteers is hard.
“With a larger member base, it would be possible to resource a liaison officer and with the right person we could support the branches better and continue to grow our membership,” Dr Mahoney said.
“That will be a critical opportunity over the next year.”
Dr Mahoney was elected at the Grassland Society of Southern Australia’s annual general meeting at Millicent, South Australia on July 19.
He replaced Hamilton’s Dr Steve Cotton as president. Limestone Coast branch president Meg Bell was elected vice president.
Dr Mahoney graduated in agricultural science from Melbourne University and went on to complete his honours and PhD at La Trobe University, Bundoora.
He worked as a pasture agronomist for various companies before recently launching his own farm consultancy business Agridome Consultancy based in Mansfield. Agridome advises to farmers on agronomy and whole-farm planning, providing strategic and operational guidance to grow farm efficiency.
Dr Mahoney also has sheep and cattle on his farm near Mansfield.
“I know too well the importance of pastures and home-grown feed and the cost at which that ‘homegrown’ feed is produced,” he said.
Dr Mahoney said he has been in the society since he left university.
“I joined because of my passion for pastures and it was a good connection to have when working for a pasture seed company.
“Once I got involved I got the bug and haven’t been able to give it up.”
Dr Mahoney has been involved with organising previous conferences and local events and bus tours.
The society was formed in 1959 and has branches in Albury-Wodonga, Central Ranges, Central West, Gippsland, East Gippsland, and Western District in Victoria, Limestone Coast in South Australia, and Tasmania. It provides a forum for the transfer of information, ideas and experiences in all aspects of grassland establishment, maintenance, utilisation, persistence and research.
During the coming year it will continue to organise regular MLA Pasture Updates for various regional branches along with other Grasslands activities. For further information or to join the society, visit the website www.grasslands.org.au