Inaugural AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant recipients announced


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Seven female innovators have been announced as recipients of the inaugural AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant.

Fran McLaughlin (Narrandera, NSW), Samantha Sutherland (Mudgee, NSW), Fiona Taylor (Canberra, ACT), Julie Sosso (Cooloola Cove, QLD), Janet Price (Toogong, NSW), Patricia Eats (Gatton, QLD) and Tegan Roberts (Bourke, NSW) successfully pitched their ideas, ranging from vertical farming, wine storage vessels and an Australian vanilla industry, to property purchasing pathways, industrial hemp, a social initiative in the livestock industry and an embryo transfer and genetic banking facility.

The Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant is a new AgriFutures Australia program, developed to foster growth and development in women involved in Australia’s rural and emerging industries, businesses, and communities.

“We are thrilled to be offering these seven rural women the leadership and development opportunities they need to make real and tangible impacts in their industries and communities.

“The new AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant is an important program as it provides a vehicle for women across the nation to realise their potential. It will nurture the development of new and exciting ideas, and we encourage the successful applicants to apply for the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award in the future,” said John Harvey, Managing Director of AgriFutures Australia.

Each of the seven women will be granted with a learning and development bursary of up to $7,000 for professional development to enable them to bring their idea, cause, or vision to life.

Fran McLaughlin is one of the recipients of the grant, whose idea ‘Feed the Bush’ aims to tackle rural food security and accessibility through sustainable horticulture technology.

“The Grant provides a great opportunity for rural and regional residents to have their ideas heard and to give them a leg up with contacts, networks and the confidence to move forward with their idea,” said Fran.

For Samantha Sutherland, being awarded the grant means she can contribute to the industry she’s passionate about, the wine industry.

“My vision is to continue to research alternative wine storage vessels called amphora. I hope to unite other young innovators interested in these vessels and make a positive impact on the wine industry in rural and regional areas by creating jobs, meaningful collaborations and ultimately making these vessels more accessible,” Sam said.

After a colourful career in agriculture both in Australia and abroad, Fiona Taylor hopes to give young people a pathway to enter the industry.

“The Rural New Generation Scheme will help many young farmers by breaking down the greatest barrier of all, raising equity to purchase their own property,” said Fiona.

Julie Sosso was also awarded an Acceleration Grant and is looking to investigate the viability of developing an Australian protected-cropping vanilla industry, employing Australian native solitary bees as pollinators to replace the labour-intensive hand-pollination method.

“In Australia, distance creates lost opportunities for rural and regional agri-innovators. The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant provides financial support for the fortunate recipients, as well as the bonus of the long-term benefits and inspirational effects filtering to the wider community,” Julie said.

With industrial hemp being a popular crop in the Northern Hemisphere, Janet Price believes it could be the crop of the future of Australian farmers with its carbon uptake and reduced water and chemical use.

“I hope to encourage and demonstrate to local farmers the advantages of introducing hemp as a rotational crop, as well as attracting investors to work with farmers to value-add by establishing appropriate manufacturing facilities in their community,” said Janet.

Tegan Roberts is on a mission to drought proof her local community of farmers with an embryo transfer and genetic banking facility to help producers weather local conditions and increase yield and profitability of their livestock, be it sheep, cattle, or goats.

Acceleration Grant Recipient, Fiona Taylor. Image credit: Shanna Whan


“The grant allows me the opportunity to follow through with the research involved to make this idea come to life and helps me connect with other people in the industry to guide me through my project,” Tegan said.

Finally, Patricia Eats plans to use her bursary to build on her existing qualifications so she can realise her vision to launch a social initiative which will champion animal-empathetic workers who are passionate about working in Australian livestock industries.

“Being awarded the Acceleration Grant means the extra qualification and skills I felt were essential before launching my social enterprise are now within my reach,” said Patricia.

With the support of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant, all seven women will be undertaking a range of learning and development opportunities throughout 2022, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to advance their project from idea to launch.

Applications for the 2023 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant will open in September 2022.

To find out more about the Acceleration Grant, visit

To find out more about the Acceleration Grant recipients, please contact Abbey O’Callaghan.

Media enquiries:
Abbey O’Callaghan
Coordinator, Capacity Building
0497 996 096

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