NATIONAL Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson has won the 2023 Rabobank Leadership Award in the return of the trans-Tasman awards after a three-year hiatus due to COVID.
And executive director of New Zealand’s Landpro company, Kate Scott, took out the 2023 Rabobank Emerging Leader award at the Rabobank Farm2Fork summit in Sydney yesterday.
Inaugural Rabobank Community Leadership Awards were also presented to Australia’s Albury-based Boys to the Bush — a not-for-profit community organisation providing preventative and early intervention strategies for disengaged young males — and to New Zealand’s Growing Future Farmers, a national training and development program providing career pathways for future farmers.
Rabobank regional manager Australian and New Zealand Peter Knoblanche paid tribute to Ms Simson’s work leading the NFF and said she was “making one of the most fundamentally important contributions to leadership in the food and agribusiness sector.”
“Through her leadership of the National Farmers’ Federation, Fiona has played, and continues to play, an instrumental role in the future growth and prosperity of Australia’s agricultural sector.
“She is passionate about the power of a unified voice for agriculture and the role agriculture advocacy plays in a strong and vibrant future for regional Australia,” he said.
“Fiona is a powerful advocate and passionate rural and regional leader who has been a trail blazer in driving a number of key major initiatives for the sector and for NFF.
“These include the National Agricultural Leadership Program, the Young Farmers Council, the Australia-China Agricultural Youth Program and the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program.”
Mr Knoblanche said the award judges – an independent panel of former award recipients – also acknowledged Ms Simson’s role as a key collaborator for the 2030 Roadmap, a national plan with a bold vision to exceed $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030.
Ms Simson was the first female leader of the NFF and with her family runs a mixed farming enterprise on New South Wale’s Liverpool Plains. She also holds multiple community and industry roles. She chairs the recently-established Future Food Systems CRC, is a commissioner and chair of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, and a director of Australian Made Australian Grown, the Australian Farmers Fighting Fund. Ms Simson is also the patron of the National Rural Press Club and the Gunnedah Gatepost Community Support Centre.
“As a prominent innovator and influencer in the Australian food and agribusiness sector with a wealth of leadership and governance expertise – Rabobank is pleased to be able to recognise Fiona’s dedication and contribution,” Mr Knoblanche said.
The peer-nominated and judged Rabobank Leadership Award is presented to individuals who create sustainable growth and prosperity at both a corporate and industry level in the food and agribusiness industries, while demonstrating wider commitment to society.
Ms Simson’s son Tom accepted the award on her behalf, as she is currently travelling in Europe connecting with farmers – looking at challenges and opportunities for farmers to work together collectively at a global level.
Boys to the Bush wins first Rabobank Community Leadership Award
Mr Knoblanche said the Boys to the Bush program is an outstanding initiative, providing tangible, meaningful benefit to the rural community.
Boys to the Bush is a grassroots, not-for-profit program, offering preventive interventions for regional NSW and north-east Victorian males aged between nine and 22. The program works closely with local businesses and grower groups to organise group and individual ‘MENtor’ youth visits, working bees and guided work experience opportunities to assist young men join the workforce and contribute to their local economy.
“This new award category aims to highlight community initiatives that align with one or more of the key themes at the centre of work being undertaken by the Rabo client councils – groups of the bank’s clients in Australia and New Zealand, who work with Rabobank to address industry and community challenges in farming and agribusiness – and the Rabo Community Fund, launched in 2021 to invest in the sustainability and vitality of rural communities,” Mr Knoblanche said.
Boys to the Bush has been granted $25,000 for a barbeque trailer for participation in more rural and regional community events. Funds will also be directed to a new initiative developed by the organisation – a bush camp for deaf or hearing-impaired youth.
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