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Jess gets the Paddock to Parliament experience with scholarship

GPA and Nufarm are partnering in an exciting new program to develop future grains industry leaders with the Paddock to Parliament Grains Advocacy Scholarships.

Three scholarships have been provided to provide opportunities to learn directly from experienced advocates with mentoring by grains industry leaders and professionals.

Dr Jessica Hyles, who is a CSIRO scientist and grain producer, along with her partner, Jonathan, in the NSW Southern Tablelands, shares her experience.

My time with the Grains Leadership Scholarship run by Grain Producers Australia and supported by NuFarm has been an amazing experience so far.

I applied for the program last year to engage with members of the Australian grains industry to understand the barriers to adoption of new crop genetics on-farm.

Together with GPA and NuFarm we designed a project that includes being supported to travel to a range of industry events and connect with innovators and entrepreneurs in the grower community, industry advocates, researchers, crop breeders, investors, market experts and traders.  

This process started with being able to meet grains leaders and other members of the GPA team, at the GPA Policy Council meeting in July 2023 in Melbourne, followed by the Australian Grains Industry Conference.

Later in the year I also had the opportunity to attend a Grain Growers dinner in Perth, Nuseed Australia Innovation Day in Horsham and the National Farmers Federation Conference in Canberra. 

It was a busy start to this year and balancing the scholarship program with other commitments including work and family was an important part of the overall learning experience.

At home in the southern tablelands of NSW, harvest didn’t finish until late in January and the wheat crop was sown a few weeks later.

Then I travelled to Perth for EvokeAg and the Grain Grower Alliance “Lift Off” session before heading to the FarmTender Entrepreneurs in Farming Event in the Wimmera.

In February I also had opportunity for reflection, when I joined a mentorship session with retired Army Major General Gus McLachlan.

As I learnt about his military career, strategic leadership roles and even a stint in farming, there were so many stories that resonated with me.

I took home valuable advice for my own career, including how to navigate the blockers and lead upwards. 

Attending the Grain Producers Australia Policy Council meeting this March in Canberra was another highlight for me, to learn about the current issues facing our Agriculture industry.

A broad range of topics including sustainability, biosecurity, crop protection, the supply chain, and grower payments (levies and end point royalties) were discussed.

The meeting involved presentations from key stakeholders such as the GRDC, AEGIC and the Department of Agriculture and I was impressed by the strength of the advocacy effort undertaken by GPA representatives from each State to represent the interests of growers across Australia.

Following this meeting, I received the true paddock-to-parliament experience by joining GPA Policy Council members at a function at Parliament House.

It was an amazing opportunity to meet with members of parliament and talk one-on-one about the issues and opportunities in Agriculture.

The next day I also attended the Grains Sustainability Forum in Canberra which is part of an important project involving GPA and GrainGrowers, attended by about 100 different industry members. 

I’m now more than midway through the scholarship, and it has been an unforgettable experience for me. I am very grateful to GPA and NuFarm for their support to help make this happen.

I’d like to thank everyone I’ve engaged with across the agricultural supply chain so far who’ve been so generous with their time and sharing knowledge.

I highly recommend the program to others and hope that that in the future I can pass on the same support I have received. 


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