We’re delighted to have an outstanding selection of invited speakers joining us at IFMA 2019. More speakers will be announced as planning proceeds!

Mr Mark Charles Allison
Derek Baker
UNE’s Centre for Agribusiness and Value Chains
Jane Bennett
Managing Director and CEO,
ASX listed company TasFoods Ltd
Greg Bott
Greg Bott Consulting

Appointed Elders Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director in May 2014. He has extensive experience spanning 30 years in the agribusiness sector. He is a former Managing Director of Wesfarmers Landmark Limited and Wesfarmers CSBP Limited and Executive Director of GrainGrowers Limited. Prior to his appointment at Wesfarmers in 2001, Mr Allison held senior positions with Orica Limited as General Manager of Crop Care Australasia and with Incitec Limited as General Manager – Fertilisers. Between 1982 and 1996 Mr Allison performed a series of senior sales, marketing and technical roles in the Crop Protection, Animal Health and Fertiliser industries. Mr Allison was the Managing Director of Makhteshim Agan Australasia Pty Ltd from 2005 to 2007 and Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Jeminex Limited from 2007 to 2008. Mr Allison is a resident of South Australia.

Derek is an agricultural economist that has written widely on food, farms, agribusiness and the agricultural industries. He is currently Professor of Agribusiness and Value Chains at the University of New England in Armidale, NSW, and his work primarily deals with competitiveness issues throughout the food and agricultural industries. He holds a First Class Honours degree in Animal Science and Farm Management from Massey University, a Graduate Certificate in Research Management from the University of Melbourne, and a PhD in Agricultural Economics from the Pennsylvania State University. After undergraduate studies, Derek ran the family farm and worked as an agribusiness consultant in New Zealand during the pro-market reforms of the mid-late 1980s. He has since worked in over 40 countries, in the private sector and as an independent consultant as well as at the University of London, Copenhagen University and international research agencies.   Up until late 2013, Derek led Economics and Value Chain research at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to that he managed the Danish Food Industry Innovation project while living in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is the Director of UNE’s Centre for Agribusiness and Value Chains.

Jane Bennett is the Managing Director and CEO of ASX listed company TasFoods Ltd. Headquartered in Launceston TasFoods is a growing branded food business marketing premium Tasmanian food products under The Tasmanian Food Co master brand. Businesses included in the TasFoods portfolio include Nichols Poultry, Meander Valley Dairy, Pyengana Dairy and Shima Wasabi.

Jane has over 20 years of experience in vertically integrated dairy businesses working in the UK and Tasmania. She has extensive experience in regional provenance branding serving for over 10 years on the Brand Tasmania Council and 6 years as Chair of the Tasmanian Food Industry Council. In 2008 Jane did a Nuffield Farming Scholarship studying the Role of Regionality in the Marketing and Branding of Food.

Jane has worked as a Non Executive Director in a number of companies that currently include Hop Products Australia, Food Innovation Australia Ltd and Nuffield Australia. Previous board positions include the Australian Broadcasting Corporation,  CSIRO, Tasmanian Ports Corporation, Van Diemen’s Land Company and Australian Farm Institute.

Jane was named 2010 Tasmanian Telstra Business Woman of the Year, 1997 Australian ABC Rural Woman of the Year, 1998 Regional Development winner in the Young Australian of the Year Award and 1994 Tasmanian Rural Achiever of the Year.

Greg retired from a forty year banking career in March 2016 where he rose from junior ranks to executive level. The last twenty five years of this period was specifically involved with the rural sector, initially on the North West Coast of Tasmania and state-wide since 1997. His final role was as State Manager for one of our larger rural lending institutions which involved team leadership and responsibility for their substantial asset book. In that role he was a member of bank’s Senior Management Team covering Australia and New Zealand and a rotational member of their Credit Committee, making decisions on larger loan requests in both countries. In retirement he chose to operate as a private consultant and has since grown this position to more than a full time role.

His strong passion has always been to lead teams and achieve business growth.  As the bank’s ability to continue growing began to peak he joined with other senior industry and government leaders to drive economic growth in the state, particularly in the rural space. He was also one of the senior leaders that drove the formation of the Market Tasmania concept which was born from a desire to promote Tasmania’s brand advantage to bring premiums back to farm gate.

This drive to see farms develop led him to retire from banking to focus specifically on helping key farms increase productivity and profitability. Through this approach the gains would benefit, not only the farmers involved, but the state overall. In this period he sat on several Boards with the most recent being Deputy Chair for Northern Tasmania Development Corporation.

His most recent challenge was to help build an organic dairy farming opportunity within the state as the representative of Organic Dairy Farmers of Australia. An aside to this is the opportunity to also grow an organic feed grain market as current sources are only available from interstate at very expensive levels.

Frances Bender
Executive Director
Huon Aquaculture
Terry Betker, P.Ag., CAC, CMC
President & CEO
Backswath Management Inc
Professor Andrew Campbell
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
Stephen Creese

Frances Bender is a co-founder and Executive Director of Huon Aquaculture Group Ltd,  the largest family owned and operated salmon producer in Australia. Frances grew up in the Huon Valley and over 30 years has built a company with an international reputation that champions Tasmania and currently employs 680 people. Originally a cattle and sheep farmer with her husband Peter, at Huon Frances has turned her hand to brand design, marketing, human resources, accounts and customer service as well as the joint leadership of the company.

Frances was a keynote speaker at the 2014 World Aquaculture Forum, led the Tasmanian industry’s response to the Federal Government’s Biosecurity Bill and has sat on numerous advisory committees. Frances is a former Tasmanian Rural Woman of the Year, an Australian Biosecurity Farmer of the Year. Frances was inducted into both the Tasmanian Women’s Honour Roll and recently into the Inaugural National Women in Seafood Industry Honour Roll.  Along with her husband Peter they were awarded National Farmers of the Year for 2018.

Frances was awarded a Centenary Medal for service to Agri Industry and regional communities. Her passion is for regional communities, education and skills training.  Along with many varied local partnerships, Frances implemented the Huon Helping Hands Grants program. On top of all that, she holds enjoys spending time with her family and friends and singing with the UTAS Southern Gospel Choir.

Terry is President and CEO of Backswath Management Inc., originating in 1992 and a company that provides business management expertise to farmers on strategic business planning, succession planning, financial analysis, benchmarking and human resource management.

Terry was actively involved in a family grain farm for nearly 20 years. The farm is now entering its third generation.

Terry has delivered presentations on farm business management to agriculture organizations throughout Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, Poland and the Netherlands. He teaches at the University of Manitoba and serves on national and provincial committees.  Terry is a professional agrologist, a certified agricultural consultant and a certified management consultant. He has completed the executive program for agricultural producers at Texas A&M University. He is the 2015 recipient of Farm Management Canada’s Wilson Loree award, recognizing his contribution to developing and promoting new and positive change in agricultural business management practices and expertise in Canada. His credentials include certification in mediation theory and strategic planning, and a science degree in agriculture from the University of Manitoba.

Professor Andrew Campbell is the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

His research interests and more than 100 publications span the interactions between climate, water, energy and agrifood systems, and the interface between science and policy.  He previously led the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) at Charles Darwin University (CDU), Land & Water Australia, Triple Helix Consulting, and was a Senior Executive in the Australian Government.

Professor Campbell trained in forestry at Creswick and the University of Melbourne, then in agricultural knowledge systems at Wageningen University, and is an Honorary Professor at Charles Darwin University (CDU) and the Fenner School at the Australian National University.

Andrew was Australia’s first National Landcare Facilitator and remains involved in a family farm in south-eastern Australia, where his family has been farming since the 1860s.

Stephen Creese grew up on a family farm south of Launceston.

From a young age he knew he would need to “Think outside the Box” to carve a career for himself in agriculture.

At 20 years of age he started his own contract grain harvesting business which included harvesting on mainland Australia.

He then started leasing land to grow Potatoes and Poppies, he purchased his own first farm at the age of 29 in North East Tasmania

Today Stephens business interest are diverse and large scale.

Managing 23,000 ha in 3 states of Tasmania as well as New Zealand he has developed a unique management model.

In Tasmania his business revolves around not only growing 25,000t potatoes and 3000t Brocolli in joint venture with Simplot Australia but also a 3,500 hd dairy herd and a flock of 30,000 Breeding Ewes and 2,500 Beef Cattle as well as Grass Seed,Clover Seed and Carrot Seed production.

He has been involved in the development of over 3,000 ha of irrigation on farms in Tasmania

His own farming business Creese North East covers 4,000ha of dryland and irrigation in North East Tasmania

He is also the Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand for the Danish based global farming business Ingleby Farms and Forests.

Having being involved with Ingleby Farms for over seventeen years Stephen has a good understanding of global agriculture and where Tasmania sits in the global scheme.

Stephen says the key to running a successful agricultural business of this size is attracting the best staff in the business and empowering them to their full potential it means having good management systems in place from planning, reporting and goal focused.

Julian Cribb
Author, journalist, editor and science communicator
Julian Cribb & Associates
Matthew Greenhill
General Manager, Agriculture and Manufacturing,
Botanical Resources Australia
Andrew Hall
Senior Production Manager
Reid Fruits
Dr Brian Hartnett
Managing Director (retired)
Tasmanian Alkaloids

Julian Cribb is an author, journalist, editor and science communicator. He is principal of Julian Cribb & Associates who provide specialist consultancy in the communication of science, agriculture, food, mining, energy and the environment.  His career includes appointments as newspaper editor, scientific editor for The Pic credit: J. Carl Ganter Australian newspaper, director of national awareness for Australia’s science agency CSIRO, member of numerous scientific boards and advisory panels, and president of national professional bodies for agricultural journalism and science communication.  His published work includes over 8000 articles, 3000 media releases and eight books.  He has received 32 awards for journalism. His internationally-acclaimed book, The Coming Famine explores the question of whether we can feed humanity through the mid-century peak in umbers and food demand.


  • Matthew is General Manager of Agriculture and Manufacturing for Botanical Resources Australia. BRA are a major producer of pyrethrum, the natural insecticide.
  • Matthew’s current responsibilities span field operations, manufacturing, R&D, quality and regulatory
  • Matthew was a foundation manager with Botanical Resources Australia (BRA) at BRA’s inception in 1996, https://botanicalresources.com/company. Matthew has been fortunate to be a long-term member of the BRA team which has been committed to the commercialisation of the pyrethrum industry in Australia.
  • Matthew joined BRA’s predecessor (BOC Gas’s “Pyrethrum Project”) as a Field Officer in 1991 and has more than 25 years of experience in agribusiness.
  • Matthew grew up on a mixed enterprise family farm on the North West Coast of Tasmania (cropping and livestock). Forever frustrated by the presence of sheep on the family farm, Matthew chose a career in agribusiness management in preference to the mixed farming enterprise. Matthew’s brother Stuart still runs (a much expanded) family farming operation.
  • Matthew has a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Tasmania.

Andrew has had over 25 years’ experience in the apple, cherry and related industries at a number of levels including orchard development, production, agronomy, quality assurance, sales, sitting on industry advisory groups and conducting skills training. Andrew has recently completed a Diploma in Horticultural Business.

He is currently a senior production manager with Reid Fruits, one of Australia’s largest cherry producers and exporters to over 20 countries. Reid Fruits grows in excess of 1500 T of cherries over two sites located in Tasmania’s Derwent Valley and a new high elevation site located in the Southern Midlands.  This expansion allows Reid Fruits to supply cherries from mid-December until mid-February.  The new site includes a 4 ha, state-of-the-art retractable roof greenhouse which enables delivery of premium quality cherries regardless of the weather conditions.

Retired in 2009 as Managing Director of Tasmanian Alkaloids a Johnson & Johnson company after 32 years employment.  Managed a business based on agricultural raw materials processed to add value in Tasmania and exported to global markets.   During this time Tasmanian Alkaloids advanced from start up phase to the world leader in its industry through transformational innovation.

Director of J&J Pty Ltd and J&J Research.  Graduated with a degree in Chemistry from University of Exeter UK and diploma from Manchester Business School.  Collaboration with University of Tasmania as a Council member and Director of the Foundation was recognised with an Honourary Doctorate in 2015.

Believes strongly in long term investment in research and its practical application to build global competitive advantage

Deputy Chair Mick Keogh
Deputy Chair
Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
Nicola Morris
Mirjana Prica
Managing Director
Food Innovation Australia Limited
Jesse Reader
Agriculture Sector Specialist
Bosch Australia

Mick has a long and diverse history of involvement with the agriculture sector, which has included periods of employment as a farm manager, a university researcher, an agribusiness consultant and an agriculture policy advisor.

In 2003 Mick was appointed Executive Director of the Australian Farm Institute, an independent policy research institute that conducts research into strategic policy issues of importance to Australian agriculture. Mick continued in that role until his appointment as a Deputy Chair of the ACCC in June, 2018.

During his time as Executive Director of the Australian Farm Institute, Mick was also  appointed Chairperson of the Australian Government panel which reviewed drought support measures, and Chairman of the Australian Government’s National Rural Advisory Council from 2012 to 2015.

Mick was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to agriculture in 2015. He holds Bachelors and Master’s degree in Wool & Pastoral Sciences, both obtained at the University of New South Wales.

Mick remains involved in family farming interests in southern NSW.

Mick’s role at the ACCC includes involvement in a range of committees, as well as oversight of the small business, franchising, and agriculture units of the ACCC.

Nicola Morris is an agribusiness executive and director with international experience spanning 3 continents .

Nicola is a director of tastafe And a registered valuer and farm management consultant With a strong interest in agribusiness and in encouraging young people into agriculture.

Most recently she led Tasmanian irrigation through a transition phase from constructing irrigation schemes to becoming a water delivery business focusing on operational efficiencies Prior to returning to Tasmania in 2016 Nicola held roles in South America as Business Head of New Zealand Farming Systems Uruguay and Vice President Dairy for Olam International. NZSFU is one of the largest global dairying businesses and in Asia as Director of Farming Operations for Fonterra based in Beijing, China.

Nicola’s first experiences in Tasmania were as Chief Executive Officer of the Van Diemen’s Land Company and Tasman Farms Ltd, This company was Australia’s largest dairy farming business.

Whilst in Tasmania over this period Nicola was also a director of DairyTas and Skills Tasmania.

In New Zealand Nicola was Chief Executive Officer for fifteen years of Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre a tertiary education organization in NZ which provided education and training to the wider farming community and new entrants using a number of commercial farming properties operated by the center and she started her working career as an agribusiness banker.

Nicola holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree majoring in rural valuation and farm management; a postgraduate diploma in finance and banking; a Masterate of Business Administration and a Masterate in Public Policy. Nicola also attended the royal ag University / institute of agricultural management agricultural leadership course in the uk

Mirjana is an experienced business and strategy leader in the food and agribusiness industry, with a passion for connecting ideas and devising solutions to deliver maximum benefit. She is currently Managing Director of Food Innovation Australia Limited, a national organisation established to lead the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, and is responsible for driving innovation and market initiatives for Australia.

Mirjana sits on boards and advisory groups for cooperative research centres, universities, research and industry organisations where she leverages her 20+ years of research and commercial experience in food and agribusiness. She also has a strong interest in business development and technology transfer. Whilst at George Weston Foods, part of the Associated British Foods Group, she helped establish a global feed ingredients business that is in the top 3 today. Mirjana has also transformed a testing business that she later went on to manage for the group.

Mirjana is a business-science post-graduate from the University of Melbourne and has worked as a senior research scientist and lecturer at Keele University in the UK. She also spent part of her career as a scientist at CSIRO.

Jesse Reader is the Agriculture Sector Specialist at Bosch Australia.

Jesse is an accomplished agronomist with 15yrs experience in Horticulture and has spent that time in a variety of roles including on-farm technical agronomy nationally, providing management and oversight of multimillion dollar R&D portfolios and in more recent times consulting to the horticulture industry.

Jesse’s position at Apple and Pear Australia Ltd saw him drive infield technology transfer and extension through the flagship Future Orchards program, earning him the industry impact award for 2015.

Jesse’s current role at Bosch combines his deep technical knowhow with business development and application – as Bosch explore the global AgTech market and look to align industry pain points with their extensive capability in sensors, automation, robotics, software and IoT connectivity.

Passionate about the industry and the potential for AgTech to have a profound impact on the future of agricultural productivity, Jesse is a regular speaker and always provides meaningful and insightful commentary.

Jesse is an Agricultural Science Graduate from the University of Tasmania.

Professor Kevin Smith
Academic, Agriculture and Food
The University of Melbourne
Professor Salah Sukkarieh
Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems
The University of Sydney
Kate Sutherland
Managing Director,
Burlington Berries Pty Ltd
Andrew Thompson
Tasmanian Farmer

Kevin Smith is Professor of Pasture Science at the University of Melbourne and a Professorial Research Fellow with Agriculture Victoria Research.  His research focuses on the development and application of new genetic and genomic technologies in agriculture.  He has previously managed plant breeding programs in pastures, crops and horticulture.  Kevin also worked as a consultant providing strategic advice to government and industry clients in Australia, New Zealand, China, Brunei, Uruguay and Argentina with respect to science investment and strategy.

Professor Salah Sukkarieh is an international expert in the research, development and commercialisation of field robotic systems. He has led a number of robotics and intelligent systems R&D projects in logistics, commercial aviation, aerospace, education, environment monitoring, agriculture and mining, and has consulted to industry including Rio Tinto, BHP, Patrick Stevedores, Qantas, QLD Biosecurity, Meat and Livestock Australia, and the NSW DPI amongst others. He was awarded the NSW Science and Engineering Award for Excellence in Engineering and Information and Communications Technologies in 2014, and the 2017 CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science.

I was born in Kent UK. I graduated with Honours in Agricultural Science at University of Wales in 1981.  My family had a dairy farm 20 miles from London and I moved to Australia when I was 25.

The Sutherland family are based in NSW and Tasmania and harvest 2000ha of seed, run 1200 commercial Angus Cows.   Crops are grown both irrigated under pivot and dryland.  Stewart and I started Upper Murray Seeds in 1992 and it is now a national and vertically integrated agribusiness.  Upper Murray Seeds also has a strong focus on research and development and has an international division.

I am the Managing Director of Burlington Berries Pty Ltd, a partnership with Hugh Lowe Farms (UK) an opportunity which provided our family with an opportunity to diversify into horticulture.  We now have 45ha of Strawberries and Raspberries growing in substrate and under poly tunnels producing 1,500 tons of fruit. We employ 16 permanent and up to 500 seasonal staff.  The berries are picked continuously from October through to May.  By 2020 we will have 50ha in production with 1,800 tons.

I am responsible for the higher-level management of the business I have a soft fruit manager who reports to me.  I organise the finance of the projects and lead the team in the direction of the company’s values and vision and report to the board. The main challenges are the weather, pests/disease, skilled labour and the cool chain.

I’ve taken part in Women’s leadership courses and now sit on two horticultural strategic planning boards and the raspberry and blackberry committee.  I like to inspire other women to embrace change and push their boundaries. I am positive about the future and the ability of agricultural entrepreneurs to be innovative, adaptive and progressive.

Stewart and I have four daughters.  All of them have studied agriculture and 2 are working in the family business.

Tasmanian born into a farming  family  in the south of the state

Have always been associated with farming and livestock

Studied Commerce part time at University of Tasmania in Hobart achieving a Bachelor of Commerce. Then undertook and completed  the  Professional Year with the  Institute of Chartered Accountants and then practised as a chartered accountant for 10 years in Hobart with a particular focus on rural clients

Returned to the family farm at York Plains in the central Midlands in 1986

Became involved with the beef feedlot in 1986 as company accountant on a part time basis

Progressed to managing director  at the Feedlot in 2003 upon retirement of the previous MD and I am still involved in that capacity as well as undertaking accounting duties

I am also still farming in the Midlands on 3 properties of about 3000ha with  my 2 sons. We farm fine Merino ewes for wool and  crossbred  lambs, a small Border Leicester ram breeding flock and an Angus beef herd. Some fodder cropping is undertaken and we grow some Lucerne for grazing. We have more recently introduced some irrigation to our operation.

Robyn Van-Dyk
Australian War Memorial

Robyn van Dyk is Head of the Australian War Memorial’s Research Centre. Her work involves leading the Research Centre team to develop, manage, preserve, and provide access to the Memorial’s archival and published collections. Robyn has curated a variety of exhibitions, including co-curating the MAGNA award-winning Anzac voices (2014) and a joint exhibition with Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation, Gallipoli to Afghanistan and the future: 100 years of mapping (2015) and A matter of trust: Dayaks and Z Special Unit Operatives in Borneo 1945 (2018). She is currently leading the Memorial’s major digitisation project to enhance availability and access to digital content online including publishing the Second World War Unit War Diaries, and personal letters and diaries of the world wars. Robyn has produced museum-related publications including a 70th anniversary commemorative booklet on the AWLA presented by Prime Minister Gillard to surviving members of this service in August 2012. She travelled to Afghanistan as the Memorial’s official curator, and spent several weeks observing conditions and collecting records and objects. Robyn has recently partnered with the Australian National University in an ARC funded project researching Australians in Borneo during the Second World War and in 2018 with the University of New South Wales in an ARC Linkage project on the Afghanistan conflict using data and technologies titled: Re-defining defence commemoration using an interactive database narrative framework.

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