Women in rice and cotton unite to explore common industry issues


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Seventy women from the rice and cotton industries united for the Food and Fibre with Flair event in Griffith, NSW on 19 June 2018. The event fostered discussion about the opportunities and challenges facing women in agriculture and inspired participants to develop their leadership skills and tackle common industry issues head on.

Leadership skills, water and workplace relations were on the agenda at the Food and Fibre with Flair event in Griffith. Rice Extension’s Women in Rice and Wincott (Women in Cotton) co-hosted 70 women from the rice and cotton industries for a day of networking, knowledge sharing and a workshop focussed on building leadership skills.

Murrumbidgee Rice Extension Officer, Leah Garnett said Robbie Sefton’s uplifting and frank presentation on Who is the ‘Invisible Farmer?’ was a highlight of the event.

“It focused on her personal journey as a woman in agriculture. Robbie shared her experiences as a regional advocate and led an exercise with the group to explore what makes a great leader.

“We learnt that good leaders have empathy and they have the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes. The ability to mentor was a key skill in becoming a strong leader which is particularly important in our rural industries where we need to actively share knowledge and skills with younger people,” said Ms Garnett

Murray Darling Basin Authority Murrumbidgee Regional Engagement Officer, Liz Stott provided an update on the Murray Darling Basin Plan. Water is key to both the rice and cotton industries and there were valuable insights into the impacts and benefits that the Basin Plan was bringing to local communities.

National Sales Manager at Workplace Assured, Ben Foley also ran a workplace relations quiz, offering participants insights into hiring new staff. A Q&A session with Southern Cotton General Manager, Kate O’Callaghan focused on workplace compliance and offered practical tips from personal experiences that resonated with attendees.

The event was a successful example of rural women and agricultural industries working together to improve outcomes and results.

“Cross-industry collaboration is really important. Rice and cotton farming systems have been co-existing for a while now. We have common areas of interest such as water and we all need to know how to improve workplace relations and build on our own professional development. It makes sense to bring the two industries together and it’s something we’d like to see more of across the region,” said Ms Garnett.

Food and Fibre with Flair is an addition to previous Women in Rice events held during 2017-2018 in Coleambally, Jerilderie and Deniliquin, and will be a building block for further partnerships to connect women in agriculture and drive change in rural industries.

Rice Extension is funded by rice growers and the Australian Government through AgriFutures Australia. Rice Extension supports the adoption of innovation and research and development outcomes in the Australian rice industry.

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