Board of Directors

Mrs Kay Hull AO


View profile  

Mr John Harvey

Managing Director

View profile  

Dr William Ryan

View profile  

Diana Gibbs

View profile  

Prof. Andrew Harris

View profile  

Danny Le Feurve

View profile  

Emma Robinson

View profile  

Cindy Cassidy

View profile  

Audit Committee

Diana Gibbs (Chair)

Cindy Cassidy

Emma Robinson

Dr William Ryan

Advisory Panels

AgriFutures Australia is committed to working with industry to deliver the research and development outcomes that meet rural Australia’s needs. We work closely with Advisory Panels to decide on research priorities and to make investment decisions each year.

Members of AgriFutures Australia’s Advisory Panels are selected following an open call process which involves a competitive skills-based assessment and/or consultation with key industry bodies and stakeholders. The successful applicants are appointed to the respective Advisory Panel by the Managing Director of AgriFutures Australia. Applicants are required to declare any actual or perceived conflict of interest to the AgriFutures Australia Managing Director prior to  appointment. Any subsequent conflicts of interest are managed in accordance with the Corporation’s Conflict of Interest Policy.

The term of appointment of Advisory Panel members is initially for three years, with a maximum of two consecutive terms being applicable to any members of the Advisory Panel. However, it may be necessary to retain members for more than two, three year terms to ensure the availability of particular scarce expertise. Where possible, to maintain continuity of corporate knowledge on an Advisory Panel, only up to half the membership of an Advisory Panel are changed at any one time.

The operation AgriFutures Australia’s Advisory Panels is at all times consistent with the Corporation’s charter under the Primary Industries Research and Development Act (PIRD Act) and AgriFutures Australia’s Strategic Research and Development Plan. Functions of the Advisory panels include:

  • Advising on applications for RD&E support in accordance with the objectives and strategies in the Five Year Plans and Corporation guidelines
  • Advising on, and assisting in, the dissemination, adoption and commercialisation of the results of the RD&E activity
  • Monitoring progress in implementing the relevant RD&E Plan and contributing to progress reports to the Board
  • Consulting with, and reporting to, the relevant industry organisation/s in relation to the performance of its functions.

AgriFutures Australia is dedicated to embracing and promoting cultural, age and gender diversity on all of our Advisory Panels.

Chicken Meat Advisory Panel

Katherine Balding (Chair)
Baiada Poultry Pty Ltd
Katherine has over 20 years’ professional experience in the chicken meat industry and her career has spanned Technical Director, National Nutrition Manager, Nutritionist, Quality Control Manager and Laboratory Manager with Ingham’s, an Australia/NZ integrated poultry producer. Katherine recently joined Baiada Poultry Pty Ltd , Australia’s largest poultry integrator. Katherine has a Bachelor of Science, Food Science and Technology (Honours) from the University of New South Wales.

Susan Klein (Deputy Chair)
Susan is the National Technical Services Manager for Ingham’s Enterprises. Susan commenced her career with Ingham’s as a trainee microbiologist in 1995, after completing a Bachelor of Science majoring in Microbiology and Biochemistry at the University of Queensland. Susan’s portfolio includes food safety, quality and animal welfare systems across primary processing, further processing, supply and logistics, livestock, feedmilling and R&D, and she is a technical assessor for the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA).

Dr Sheridan Alfirevich
Baiada Poultry
Sheridan is the National Technical and Animal Welfare Manager at Baiada Poultry, responsible for Baiada’s national flock health, animal welfare and livestock compliance. Her expertise spans meat and layer chicken breeders, turkey breeders, meat chickens, turkeys, layers, hatcheries and processing facilities. Sheridan graduated from Murdoch University with a Bachelor of Science (Veterinary Biology) and Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, with Honours. She is a member of Avian Health Chapter of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists, President of the Australasian Veterinary Poultry Association and Board Member of Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia.

Dr Anthony Keyburn
Anthony is Research Scientist, Technical Manager Bacterial Diagnostic Laboratory, at CSIRO and has more than 10 years’ experience in chicken meat research focused on vaccine development, diagnostics, antimicrobial development and welfare. Anthony has a Doctor of Philosophy in Science from Monash University and he developed his industry and research networks through his involvement with the Poultry CRC PhD and Postgraduate programs and associated research projects. He is a Member of Australian Society for Microbiology, Australian Animal Health Laboratory Institutional Biosafety Committee and Technical Manager of the Bacteriological Diagnostic Group.

Jason Fry
Turosi Pty Limited
Jason has been involved within the Australian Poultry industry for 18 years beginning in 1994 as a food science graduate. Early on in his career, Jason completed a poultry farm management certificate and he’s held a number of technical roles in the areas of quality food safety, compliance, customer service, marketing and sales. Jason has also held leadership positions within the poultry industry for the past 15 years across a number of broad fields from marketing and product development to animal welfare and project management. His extensive exposure includes all aspects of the industry across multiple sites and across all states and territories. He’s been involved in a number of company, customer driver committees and programs and he’s looking forward to engaging at a grass roots level.

Greg Underwood
Bioproperties Pty Ltd
Greg has more than 16 years’ experience in projects and business management, primarily in the veterinary biotechnology and agribusiness sectors. Specialising in poultry health and production systems, he is a former Director of the Australian Poultry Cooperative Research Centre and former Managing Director of Lohmann Layers Australia, Hy-Line Australia and Broiler Breeders Australia. Greg is currently the Group R&D Manager for Bioproperties Pty Ltd, which researches, manufactures and supplies vaccines globally, and a Director of Aves Consulting. Greg is personally motivated to deliver innovative solutions to industry problems. He has a strong focus on supporting local business to achieve high performance through a sustainable and ethical production system with a global outlook.

Professor Eugeni Roura
Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Queensland
Professor Eugeni Roura is a Research Scientist for the Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Queensland. His general area of expertise is in non-ruminant nutrition with a special interest in gastrointestinal mechanisms orchestrating feed/food intake. He joined UQ in 2010, where he leads a research team focused on the interface of academia and industry, bridging the gap between scientific insights and commercial applications for a sustainable chicken meat and pork productions. Prior to joining UQ, Eugeni worked for the feed and food industries with 16 years in strategic R&D management and market-focused services in a global highly competitive environment. As an Advisory Panel member, he is looking forward to helping the Australian chicken meat industry successfully face current and future challenges by capitalising on his significant international experience/networks, coupled with his strong understanding of both the chicken industry and academia worlds.

Tim Wilson
Scolexia – Avian and Animal Health
Tim Wilson is the Director of Research for Scolexia – Avian and Animal Health. Previously, Tim was the Deputy Veterinary Director of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA). He has managed animal health research funding for Meat and Livestock Australia and has also provided veterinary and regulatory advice to chicken meat and egg producers in government, pharmaceutical and veterinary consultancy roles. He is currently the poultry representative on the AVA Therapeutics and Antimicrobial Resistance committees. His specific R&D interests for the chicken meat industry include: antimicrobial resistance, the impact of feed additives on microbiota, gut health and performance, vaccination efficacy and biosecurity. Whilst involved with the Advisory Panel, Tim hopes to encourage sound study design and funding of various projects that will result in benefits to the industry in the short, medium and long term.

Emerging Industries Advisory Panel

Brian Ruddle (Chair)
Impact Innovation Group
Brian has been involved in the innovation sector for more than 25 years across Australia, Asia, Africa and the Pacific. He founded Impact Innovation Group in 2006 which has grown to a 20 person team providing innovation, commercialisation and collaboration services for large multinationals, SME’s, startups, not-for-profit’s, universities, incubators and accelerators, and government agencies. He has also formed three agtech startups and a foodtech startup from university research. Brian sits on a number of advisory boards and committees and regularly provides advice to senior management teams wanting to deliver next generation products, services, processes and business models.

Susan Wilson (Deputy Chair)
Bounce Partners
Susan has a recognised national profile in innovation and has contributed widely to Australia’s national innovation, science and economic development agenda through governance and advisory roles. Originally a private sector research scientist, Susan gained international cross-functional experience in startup to tier-1 multinational companies across the biotechnology, agrifood/FMCG, pharmaceutical, medtech, consumer electronics and heavy manufacturing industries. Susan holds a Bachelor of Science, Master of Business Administration and professional governance qualifications. She has a keen interest in open innovation and future workforce development in urban, regional and remote areas.

Ann Ross
Hive Haven
Ann Ross is a regionally renowned bee keeper based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Her company Hive Haven specialises in producing award winning products from both the Australian stingless bee and the European honey bee. Since its establishment in 2011, Hive Haven has gone from strength to strength; the company has won several awards including a Queensland Community Achievement Award for Trade and Career, and Ann has been recognised in the ‘Top 50 Australian Business Leaders of 2018’ by the Australian Small Business Magazine. Ann has a Bachelor of Business and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She has a personal commitment to driving more innovation and celebration around the development of highly nutritional food sources.

Dr Matt Hall
NT Department of Primary Industry and Resources
Matt has over ten years’ experience managing industry-funded research programs. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science and his PhD in Horticulture at the University of Sydney. Matt provides research, development and extension services to various sectors of the Australian and New Zealand primary industries. In these roles, he has experience as a researcher, consultant and manager. As Director of Plant Industries for the Northern Territory Government, Matt manages investments across horticulture, forestry, cropping and pasture systems. His focus is on applied aspects of plant and food production to advance the productivity, competitiveness and profitability of farming businesses.

John Lever
Koorana Crocodile Farm
As a secondary school science teacher turned Research Station Manager for CSIRO (animal health), John has had a varied career, but it wasn’t until an opportunity presented itself in Papua New Guinea (PNG) that John’s focus turned to wildlife industries. His love of nature coupled with his “make it work” innovative approach to problem solving has aided the development of the crocodile, cassowary, dugong, deer and butterfly industries in PNG. A proven innovator, following a return to Australia, John started the first commercial crocodile farm in Queensland. John is a strong advocate for alternative agricultural production and believes that agricultural development and investment is best embraced and encouraged alongside an appropriate research base to understand the risks and opportunity.

Lucinda (Lu) Hogan
Keringal Pty Ltd
Lu has a wealth of experience in the agribusiness sector as a commercial producer of livestock and grains; farm management consultant; manager of research, development and extension programs; deliverer of industry training; and commercialising research outcomes. She has Bachelor of Agricultural Science, post graduate qualifications in consulting and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Throughout her career she has worked with state departments, research and development corporations, Co-operative Research Centres, and the university sector. Lucinda is Associate Director of Business Development and Commercialisation at the University of New England where most recently she has been working with a team to commercialise a suite of digital products developed by the Sheep CRC. Along with her family, Lu also produces prime lamb and beef in northern NSW.

Export Fodder Advisory Panel

Peter Baker (Chair)
Fenceline Consulting
Peter is an agricultural consultant with a strong affiliation with the grain and fodder industry and operates his own agricultural consultancy business, Fenceline Consulting, in the Mid North and Yorke Peninsular region of SA. With 30 years’ experience in the SA agricultural sector, Peter has worked in agricultural chemical sales, applied research, farm operational management, contract research, on farm agronomy and business support services. Peter has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy Agricultural College and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors; he is a Director of SABOR Ltd and Board Member of the well-known HART Field Site Group Inc.

Pat Guerin
Balco Australia
Pat has been involved in the export fodder industry for 25 years in operational and technical management roles and is currently the Procurement and Technical Manager for Balco Australia. His role involves dairy farm management, dairy nutrition and crop agronomy with a strong skew to producing high quality fodder crops. Pat has been a broadacre farmer in WA and SA growing export cereal hay, and previously worked in the stock feed industry in both operational and technical roles for 15 years.

Andrew Hayward
Johnson Group
Raised on a mixed farm in Kapunda SA, Andrew has been involved in the export hay and stock feed manufacturing industry since 1994 and has worked in a number of administration and management roles. Three years living in the United Arab Emirates working for UAE Government Farmers’ Services Centre saw Andrew head up the animal feed department and managing the chain of Agricultural Input Shops. He returned to Australia in 2013 as General Manager of Johnson Group in Kapunda. Andrew has a MBA from the University of South Australia.

Zane Banson
Wingara AG Limited
Zane is an experienced Chartered Accountant specialising in Board Advisory, Corporate Governance and Financial Reporting for small and micro-cap listed companies. Zane comes with over 10 years experience in CFO Advisory, Company Secretarial, and Financial Reporting from KPMG, Exxon Mobil and boutique advisory firms.  He has managed and advised a wide range of emerging, growth-stage listed companies. His current role as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director at Wingara AG Limited has seen the acquisition of JC Tanloden’s operating assets for fodder production, and Austco Polar Cold Storage for meat storage and handling. This also included the successful listing of Wingara AG on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX:WNR). He is driven by the pursuit of opportunities in exporting quality Australian produce in the fodder and meat industry, with a particular focus on supply chains. Zane has a Bachelor of Accounting and Finance from RMIT University, Melbourne and is a qualified Chartered Accountant. He is also certified by the Governance Institute of Australia.

Munro Patchett
Gilmac Pty Ltd
Munro grew up on a mixed cropping farm in Canterbury, New Zealand and is CEO of Gilmac, Australia’s largest hay exporter. Gilmac operates five pressing sites in three states of Australia with 150 employees Australia-wide. Munro has worked with Gilmac for 24 years and has been heavily involved with the construction of Gilmac sites and its pressing machinery. Spending time with growers and overseas customers, as well as overseeing the expanding business, is the core focus of Munro’s role.

Steve Woods
Australian Forage Group
Steve has produced oaten hay for over 25 years for the horse industry, export and domestic markets and has a 2000 ha operation at Calingiri WA, focused on oaten hay, wheat, canola, barley and a small cattle herd. He has spent time in China and the Middle East developing oaten hay markets and is currently a Director and shareholder at Hay Australia and Chairman Director of Australian Forage Group. Steve has been involved in the AgriFutures™ Export Fodder Program for two terms and wants to see RD&E contribute to a robust and financially competitive export fodder industry.

Ginger Advisory Panel

Dr Jo White (Acting Chair)
Ginger grower
Dr Jo White has a background in research with over 15 years’ experience in agricultural research programs, including 10 years’ experience in the field of plant pathology of broad acre summer crops. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science and a PhD in the plant pathology field. After relocating in 2017, Jo began growing ginger in the Wide Bay region. She has a keen interest in aiding the ginger industry to develop and deliver on-ground practical research solutions which improve productivity and profitability for growers.

Ethan Graham
Ginger Grower
Ethan is the owner and operator of Mountain View Agriculture, a family farm in the Glasshouse Mountains, Queensland. He established his family farming business in 2014 and using his land management, crop growth and leadership expertise has grown Mountain View Agriculture into a successful operation. Ethan acknowledges the challenges of growing ginger and appreciates the importance of RD&E to understand the impact of growing conditions on ginger yield and quality. Ethan is interested in the role technology (for example robotic sprayers) can play in the industry as well as the health benefits for consumers and development of disease free ginger. He brings his creativity, business expertise and grower perspective to the Advisory Panel.

Jeff Skilton
Ginger grower at Skilton Farms
Jeff has been trading in the horticulture industry since he was 13 years old. He has grown a wide range of crops including Citrus, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Watermelon and many more. Not only is Jeff a ginger grower in his own right but he is also a Builder by trade, which provides him with an inquisitive mind and an appetite for solving issues. Jeff enjoys solving issues on both the practical side of farming and the mechanical side to achieve improved outcomes, which can also be transferred to providing inspiration for applicable R&D for the industry.

Rob Abbas
Rob has been involved with the Australian ginger industry for over 25 years, with experience ranging from farm agronomy to pest and disease control, to project management and extension services. He is committed to helping ensure the industry’s continued viability and growth. Rob’s specific RD&E interests are based around the need for the Australian ginger industry to not only maintain viability through best practice management developments but to also be a reliable supplier of a quality and safe product to markets. It is Rob’s hope that whilst on the Advisory Panel the industry will cement its reputation as a reliable and consistent supplier of a quality Australian product. This will be achieved through sound farm-based solutions to address the barriers currently effecting reliability of supply.

Scott Kirkwood
Ginger grower
Scott is a third generation ginger grower originally from the Gympie area where his father farmed ginger and beans. Scott’s father started growing ginger at Wamuran in the 1950s, and his family is now based in the South Kolan district of Bundaberg where they grow 30-40 acres of processing and market ginger. Their processing ginger stays local and supplies Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, while market ginger is sent to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane wholesale markets.

Kylie Templeton
Commercial Director and third generation farmer at Templeton Ginger Pty Ltd.
Kylie is responsible for the logistics of the business, liaising with wholesale agents, managing sales as well as marketing for the Templeton Ginger brand. She has led the business to handle its own Human Resources and organised all Food Safety and HARPS requirements.

Not only has she inherited the 70 years knowledge of all things ginger, she has also volunteered for nine years as the Secretary and Treasurer of the Australian Ginger Industry Association. She completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course providing her with a greater understanding of business skills and corporate governance.

Honey Bee & Pollination Advisory Panel

Dr Rob Manning
Rob is an independent consultant and former research scientist for the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. Over the past 27 years, Rob’s beekeeping-research career has been topically wide and not confined to any one thing. His career highlights include an evaluation of the WA queen bee breeding program, surveying pollens for their fatty acid profiles and testing fatty acid enhanced feedstuffs to improve bee nutrition, and research into WA honeys – using the late Professor Molan’s methodology – to find antimicrobial activity in WA honeys. This project originally discovered the high activity of jarrah and marri (redgum) honeys (higher than manuka). Rob is keen to work with the Advisory Panel to explore honey bee nutrition, pollination and how honey bees can improve food production in Australia, as well as the drone side of queen bee breeding. Rob is also the recipient of several awards including the Goodacre Memorial Award, the Best Innovation or Invention Award (WA Government) and the Inventors Award (Karragullen Field Day).

Dr Diana Leemon
Diana is a mycologist and principal scientist for bee health and arthropod pest management within Agri-Science Qld, the Research and Development division of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF). Over the past 20 years, she has conducted and led research projects across a range of livestock industries including honey bees. Diana has been an amateur beekeeper since 1997 and has been associated with small hive beetle (SHB) research, almost since it arrived in Queensland in 2002. Diana joined the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Advisory Panel in 2017.

Steve Fuller
Bee Services
Steve has worked in the honey bee industry for over 40 years. With his brother Wayne they run Bee Services in northern NSW, producing organic honey and pollinating fruit, berries and nuts across the north coast. Bee Services has been certified as an organic producer by the Biological Farmers Association since 2005.

Steve is a member of the Crop Pollination Association of Australia and is the current President of the north coast branch of the NSW Apiarists Association. He is passionate about educating people both within the honey bee industry and across the wider community, about the benefits of bees and their importance in the food chain.

Through his involvement on the Advisory Panel, Steve wants to share his experience and knowledge to advance the Australian honey bee industry and see an increased appreciation of the industry. He believes that if industry and researchers work together practical research outcomes will be delivered to address industry challenges.

Ashley Zamek
Hort Innovation
Ashley is the Research and Development Manager of the Pollination Fund, part of the Hort Frontiers strategic partnership initiative at Hort Innovation. Ashley works with the 35 industries Hort Innovation represents, to address the need to create a sustainable and resilient Australian horticultural sector through improved crop pollination services and pollinator options. Ashley was appointed to the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Advisory Panel in 2017.

Sam Malfroy
Wheen Bee Foundation
Coming from a beekeeping family, Sam worked at Plant Health Australia (2011-2016) where he established and managed many national honey bee and pollination programs. For this work, Sam received the AHBIC Award of Excellence in 2016 for service to the honey bee industry. From 2016-2018 Sam worked at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in international trade and market access. Sam is currently employed by the NSW Government (Department of Regional NSW) where he works on regional growth and recovery programs. Sam has been a Director of the Wheen Bee Foundation since 2016, and joined the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Advisory Panel in 2017. Sam holds a degree in Horticultural Science (Honours) from the University of Sydney.

Neil Bingley
Apiarist Neil Bingley works with his brother David and son, Brett in managing 2,000 hives across the South Eastern quarter of New South Wales which occasionally extends into Victoria. Neil has been a professional beekeeper since 1980 following in the steps of his Father. As a commercial beekeeper he is always looking for ways that lead to on-farm innovation. Neil has extensive involvement in the beekeeping industry as President and Executive of the NSW Apiarsts’ Association (NSWAA) and NSWAA’s Southern Tableland’s branch. Neil has also been an Executive Member of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) and is a recipient of the Keith Mcllvride Memorial Award 2014. Neil looks forward to providing a commercial beekeepers perspective to the Advisory Panel and will be voicing the industry’s need for clear practical outcomes. He is keen to share his on-farm experiences and work with the Advisory Panel to ensure RD&E has practical outcomes for Australian beekeepers.

Jonathon Monson
Monsons Honey and Pollination
Jonathan is a fourth generation beekeeper from Victoria, working in the family’s beekeeping operation from a young age. Monsons Honey and Pollination is one of the largest pollinators globally, coordinating over 110,000 hives annually. Pollination is a major part of their business, with a particular focus on almonds.

Jonathan spent the 2010 season beekeeping in Canada, pollinating blueberries and experiencing varroa mite first hand. He has travelled to the United States on multiple occasions, meeting beekeepers, growers and researchers, discussing challenges facing the honey bee industry. Through his travels and conversations domestically and overseas, Jonathan has developed a good understanding of the key challenges facing the industry.

Jonathan would like to see further research into nutrition, supplementary feeding, and Queen breeding. He wants people to understand the heavy reliance on bees for food production and how fragile the insect is. Bees are one of the key foundations in the food production chain, if the bees are healthy, the industry is healthy.

Pasture Seeds Advisory Panel

Lisa Anderson (Chair)
Riverina seed grower
Lisa is a Riverina seed grower and prime lamb producer based near Wagga Wagga NSW. Lisa’s career has spanned governance, strategic planning and financial management. She is the Chair of FarmLink Research, a farming systems group, conducting broadacre research and extension projects. SALRC (Southern Australian Livestock Research Council) provides recommendations on R&D initiatives and investments in the Australian red meat industry for south-eastern Australia. Lisa is the Chair of SNSW. With extensive industry experience and networks, Lisa is interested in increasing collaboration between funding bodies to leverage adoption of RD&E outcomes. Lisa has a Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Sydney and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

David Brown
South Australian seed grower
David is a certified seed grower based in South Australia with 40 years industry experience. He operates an agronomy consulting business focused on advising cropping, sheep, beef and dairy farmers on pasture seed mixes and management. Career highlights include board member of the AW Howard Trust, which sponsors research students to pursue the advancement of pasture science, serving on the SA Advisory Board of Agriculture, GRDC Irrigation Committee and Ag Institute of Australia fellow. David has a Bachelor of Science (Botany) from the University of Adelaide.

Joe Cook
South Australian seed grower
Joe is a mixed farmer from Keith, South Australia. His farm “Scottswell” produces Lucerne seed and hay, clover seed, wheat, barley, lentils, canola, cereal hay, prime lambs and wool. Joe is a passionate member of the Lucerne seed industry; he served in the inaugural committee of Lucerne Australia and six years on the executive, two as chair. He has completed the SA Rural Leadership Program, has a Diploma in Rural Business Management and completed the Rabobank Farm Managers Program. Joe has a specific interest in integrated pest management.

Brian Field
Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, University of Tasmania
Brian is a Senior Industry Development and Extension Officer with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA). He has held various RD&E roles across Tasmania’s mixed farming systems, working in the grains, seed and pastoral based industries. Brian’s work is focused on developing industry connections for private and public partnerships to enhance RD&E delivery and impact. He has represented TIA on various local and national bodies and is the Tasmanian representative of the National Wool Strategy committee, a member of the Tasmanian Seed Industry Group, and developing initiatives to deliver drought resilience RD&E. Brian has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Biology and Geography Majors) from the University of Tasmania.

Guy Cunningham
South Australian pasture seed grower
Guy Cunningham runs a Lucerne and winter cropping enterprise on his farm in Keith, South Australia. The Cunningham family diversified their farming enterprise moving into pasture seed production in the 90’s when wool and sheep prices fell; this is where Guy’s appreciation for and understanding of pasture seed production began. Guy has been an active member of Lucerne Australia since its beginning in 2005 and served on the Executive Committee from 2011 to 2019, including two years as Chair. Through his experience as a grower and working with Lucerne Australia, he brings a wealth of industry experience and networks to the Advisory Panel. Guy is interested in getting the best return from RD&E investments for pasture seeds growers. Guy has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from Adelaide University and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Rice Advisory Panel

Drew Braithwaite (Chair)
Independent Ag Pty Ltd
Drew is the Managing Director of farming business Independent Ag Pty Ltd, a specialist in seed crop production. Drew is a commercial agronomist and in 2016 received a Nuffield Scholarship which allowed him to investigate the importance and value of SunRice’s consumer brands to the rice industry. Drew’s research has contributed to understanding rice marketing and identifying potential new products for Australian rice growers. Industry involvement includes vice president of the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia Mirrool Branch, treasurer and secretary of the Benerembah Warrawidgee Water User Association. Drew has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Charles Sturt University.

Antony Vagg (Deputy Chair)
Rice farmer
Antony has completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Melbourne and a Graduate Certificate in Rural Science and Consulting at the University of New England. For four years, he worked as a Operations and Technical Services Manager at Rice Research Australia Pty Ltd. Here, he managed agronomy and trial outcomes, organised grower field days and oversaw specific projects such as the Clean Seed program. Antony is also a Nuffield Scholar and completed a research project focusing on rice straw utilisation. He is now back at his family’s farm and consults for a commercial agronomy firm part time.

Dr Vito Butardo
Swinburne University of Technology
Vito is a rice grain quality and nutrition expert and teaches biotechnology, biochemistry and research subjects at Swinburne University of Technology. Vito’s rice research career began at the International Rice Research Institute and he obtained his PhD degree in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Queensland with research focused on ways to reduce the digestibility of rice grain to mitigate the rising incidence of over nutrition worldwide. He is a recipient of three postdoctoral research fellowships for his work on topics related to rice grain quality, nutrition and postharvest yield.

Brian Dunn
NSW Department of Primary Industries
Brian is a Research Agronomist (Irrigation) with NSW Department of Primary Industries based at the Yanco Agriculture Institute. Brian grew up on an irrigated rice, winter cereal and sheep farm near Leeton, he joined NSW Agriculture in 1985 as a Technical Assistant Rice Breeding and in 1987 he was appointed Technical Officer in Irrigation Agronomy. Brian has a particular interest in increasing the water productivity of rice and irrigated winter cereals and has lead projects on delayed permanent water in rice, with much of his research involving increasing yield while reducing water use and increasing sustainability. Brian has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Charles Sturt University and Associate Diploma of Agriculture (Farming) from the Riverina College of Advanced Education.

Russell Ford
RLF Agro R&D Consulting
Russell’s involvement in the Australian rice industry has spanned more than 20 years and has focused on rice R&D; specifically variety development, grain quality, sustainability and improved farming practices. Career highlights include a Nuffield Scholarship and NSW Landcare Catchment Management Award for Innovation in Sustainable Farm Management. Russell is the former Chair of the International Temperate Rice Research Consortium and Chair of the Yanco Creek and Tributaries Advisory Council. He has a Diploma in Applied Science (Agriculture) from Longerenong Agricultural College.

Laura Kaylock
Farmer at D.D. Kaylock & Co and Project Officer at Western Murray Land Improvement Group
Laura helps run her family’s diverse property at Mallan in the southern Riverina. She has always had a strong interest in agriculture and completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University in 2014. Laura also works part-time as a Project Officer at the Western Murray Land Improvement Group. She has experience in the technical and operational considerations of rice crop management as well highly-developed project management, research, development and extension skills. She firmly believes the rice industry will face a number of challenges due to increased climatic variability and reduced water availability and she is confident research will play a large part in helping farmers adapt to these challenges.

Dr Laurence (Laurie) Lewin
Rice industry consultant
Whilst officially retired, Laurie offers consultancy services to the Australian rice industry and is a member of Rice Research Australia Pty Ltd (RRAPL). As a former rice breeder with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Laurie was the leader of a team that developed more than 15 rice cultivars for NSW, which accounted for more than 95% of NSW rice production up until the time of his retirement. Career highlights include former Director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Rice Production, a Farrer Medal, Public Service Medal and election as Honorary Councillor of the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia.

Dr Ben Ovenden
NSW Department of Primary Industries
Ben is a Plant Pathologist with NSW Department of Primary Industries based at Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute. Ben has had a long association with the NSW rice industry, first as a rice grower and then as a Rice Breeder with the NSW DPI Rice Breeding Program. As well as releasing two rice varieties, Ben lead the modernisation of the breeding program with the implementation of a molecular breeding program, a new plant breeding database, and genomic selection techniques. Ben has been actively involved in rice industry extension, including an industry review, and the development of an industry R&D strategy to focus rice research on water productivity. Ben has a PhD in cereal breeding and quantitative genetics.

Tea Tree Oil Advisory Panel

Michael Flanagan (Chair)
Tea tree oil producer, Northern NSW
Michael has been a tea tree oil producer for 20 years in northern NSW and is a qualified accountant with over 40 years professional standing. Prior to professional retirement he owned and operated a large regional NSW accounting, business advisory, taxation and financial planning practice. He worked at a senior level with the Australian Taxation Office in Canberra and overseas as an international taxation consultant. Industry involvement has included board member and national treasurer of the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association.

Phillip Butlin
Main Camp Natural Extracts
Phillip is the Managing Director of Main Camp Natural Extracts (MCNE), the world’s largest tea tree oil producer with operations across 10 farms in NSW. Prior to establishing MCNE, Phillip was an executive and director of Great Southern Limited, an ASX listed managed investment scheme business. Phillip has worked at Macquarie Bank in Sydney and Hong Kong in the bank’s equity capital market division and prior to Macquarie Bank worked for the international accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, in London and Sydney. Phillip has been a qualified accountant for over 30 years; he is a board member and president of the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association.

Digby Growns
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
Digby is the Senior Plant Breeder at Kings Park and Botanic Garden. He manages programs in the breeding and development of Anigozanthos, Boronia, Chamelaucium, Corymbia, Grevillea, Leptospermum and Scaevola. He has worked for many years on the development of Australian native plants for horticulture, and is responsible for the release of over 40 new varieties of native plants including the hybrid Chamelaucium ‘Pearlflower’ series and Grevillea ‘RSL Spirit of ANZAC’. He leads research into new technology developments in plant tissue culture, biotechnology and plant breeding. Digby has a Bachelor of Horticultural Science (Honours).

Dee-Ann Seccombe Prather
Down Under Enterprises International Pty Ltd
Dee-Ann is the founder and Managing Director of Down Under Enterprises International Pty Ltd., an international wholesale distributor of Australian tea tree oil and essential oils. With an expanding product portfolio, the business has a growing customer base in Asia and North America. Dee-Ann is a committee member of the Essential Oils Association of Australia and member of the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association. Career highlights include winning the 2015 Premier’s NSW Export Award for Women in International Business and Premier’s NSW Export Awards for Agribusiness, Highly Commended in 2016. Dee-Ann has a Master of Commerce from the University of NSW and Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney.

Gavin Ash
University of Southern Queensland
Gavin has had a long career in research in crop protection across a wide variety of annual (wheat, canola, rice) and perennial crops (jojoba, macadamia, grapevine). Currently, Gavin is the Executive Director of the Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment, but has also held a number of positions at USQ (Director, Centre for Crop Health) and Charles Sturt University (Acting Head of School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences) in the last five years. He has published widely in international journals, is an editor of several international journals, has held research grants valued at more than $17 million and continues to supervise post graduate students in plant disease, entomology, plant breeding and genomics.

Thoroughbred Horses Advisory Panel

Professor Nigel Perkins (Chair)
The University of Queensland
Nigel is the Head of School, School of Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland. He is the Deputy Chair of the Queensland Veterinary Surgeons Board, Director at Large for Region III (Australia, New Zealand & Asia) for the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and represents UQ on the North Australia Beef Research Council. Nigel’s work has a strong focus on improving animal health, production and welfare outcomes in Australian livestock as well as providing leadership within the veterinary profession and in science, food sustainability and one health. Nigel is recognised nationally and internationally as a leader in the field of veterinary epidemiology.

Dr Catherine Chicken (Deputy Chair)
Scone Equine Hospital
Catherine is an equine veterinarian in the Hunter Valley NSW. She has a PhD in epidemiological aspects of Rhodococcus equi infection (rattles) in foals and is a member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in Medicine of Horses. She is a consultant to the Scone Equine Hospital on equine pathology and infectious disease. Catherine currently holds a position on the education subcommittee of Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA), she is a previous Policy Advisory Councillor for EVA, Scientific Editor of the Australian Equine Veterinarian and EVA Executive member and a former Superintendent of Scone Equine Hospital Clovelly ICU. Her special areas of interest include emerging infectious diseases, antimicrobial stewardship and One Health.

Derek Field
Widden Stud
Derek is the General Manager of Widden Stud, a position he has held for over 35 years. He has been heavily involved in thoroughbred horse research projects throughout Australia, including the development of a mares and stallions database for the Hunter Valley, the ‘Rattles’ research program, EAFL Outbreak, Equine Reproduction, West Nile Virus, and EAFL research.

Derek is an active member of the thoroughbred horse industry; and is a past Director and Vice President of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, past Director and President of NSW Thoroughbred Breeders Association, and is currently a Director and Treasurer of Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre.

Michael Grieve
Owner/Operator of Grandview Stud
Michael Grieve is a former teacher who has worked in Australia and overseas. During his education career he has held senior leadership roles including Head of Department Mathematics, Senior Dean, Head of Senior Students and Pastoral Dean. Michael has always had a love for horses and turned his passion for horses into a business establishing Grandview Stud, a thoroughbred property at Peak Crossing near Ipswich, Queensland. Michael has a strong focus on giving back to the community holding a number of volunteer roles with the Royal Queensland Show Council, Ipswich Show Society and executive member of the Queensland Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

Michael is passionate about the future of the Thoroughbred Industry and ensuring the “Sport of Kings” is accessible to everyone. He is also keen to share his industry knowledge with others and has a particular interest in exploring why foals are lost and why certain horses do better than others.

Dr Craig Suann
Dr Craig Suann was the chief regulatory veterinarian for the NSW thoroughbred racing industry for 33 years, most recently as the Senior Official Veterinarian at Racing NSW and previously for the Australian Jockey Club.

Craig served as Chairman of the Racing Australia Veterinary and Analysts Committee which provides expert advice relating to national drug control policy and equine health and welfare matters. He is a current member of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) Advisory Council on Equine Prohibited Substances and Prohibited Practices, and the IFHA Welfare Committee, in his capacity as an IFHA Technical Advisor.

Previously, he has been Chairman of the International Group of Specialist Racing Veterinarians (IGSRV), and past Secretary of the Australian Equine Veterinary Association (now Equine Veterinarians Australia), including convenor of its 1987 and 1992 Bain Fallon conferences.

Jacqueline Stewart
Racing Australia
Jacqueline is Keeper of the Australian Stud Book, the official authority for the identification of racehorses in Australia. The Australian Stud Book, a division of Racing Australia, was established in 1878 and contains records of the second largest population of thoroughbreds in the world. Jacqueline leads the Stud Book and Registration team to provide independent breed integrity and ensure it continually strives to improve the services for owners and breeders to remain a world leader in its field. Jacqueline joined the Australian Stud Book in 1998, becoming the Deputy Keeper from 2005 and the Keeper in 2014.

Mike Becker
Independent Stallions
Mike Becker has been involved in stud management for more than forty years, beginning at the former Goodland Park Stud, Narrung, South Australia. He managed Stockwell Stud in Victoria in 1989 for four years before launching Independent Stallions in 1992 which grew to 11 stallions by 1994.

Mike has been a board member of Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria (TBV) for 14 years, serving as President from 2000 to 2008. In 2008 he was honoured to receive life membership of TBV. He has also served on the board of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia for eight years.

He is particularly passionate about advancements and improvements in foal development and nutrition and how that relates to the farm gate in a workable application. He believes research outcomes need to be understandable, easy to use and available to any breeder to help reduce early foal deaths. As a member of the Advisory Panel, Mike hopes to use his extensive knowledge of the industry to add value to the research and development programs.

Organisational Structure

 - image

AgriFutures Australia Organisation Chart: April 2021