GIPPSDAIRY believes the addition of three new regional extension officers will help serve dairy farmers even better.
Ruairi McDonnell, Sarah Cornell and Ashley Burgess bring a wealth of experience and broad perspectives to their roles.
In welcoming the trio, GippsDairy regional manager Allan Cameron said they each brought a unique set of skills and knowledge that would help improve extension activities being offered to the region’s dairy farmers.
“It took us a little longer than expected to fill these roles, but we wanted to make sure we had the right people who could get out on farm and have a two-way dialogue with farmers,” he said.
“Our regional extension officers are at the coalface of delivering extension activities, which are vital to improving performance of Gippsland dairy farm businesses.
“GippsDairy sees its role as listening and responding to farmers’ needs and we believe Ruairi, Sarah and Ashley have the knowledge and personalities to maximise the value to farmers of extension activities.”
Ruairi (pronounced Roo-ree) McDonnell has built a bank of farming knowledge through work in his native Ireland as well as New Zealand and Western Australia.
The 31-year-old believes that knowledge from outside Gippsland can only benefit the local industry.
“I think that is a key part of my experience,” he said.
“Everywhere I have gone, I have picked up a different perspective on how certain farming systems should be managed.
“There are differences between New Zealand, Ireland and Western Australia. All of that experience can help optimise performance into Gippsland farming systems.
“I hope I can help them implement best practice farm management and become more technically efficient.”
Ashley Burgess believes that GippsDairy can help dairy farmers utilise knowledge from other agricultural sectors.
Growing up in the horticulture industry and with a background in agronomy, Ashley has seen first-hand how vegetable growers have been forced to adapt and improve, just to survive in an ultra-competitive market.
“I think there are a lot of learnings from horticulture, because everything they do is super precise,” she said.
“When you talk about summer crops, winter crops or forage crops – there is plenty to learn from the way horticulture makes the most of the resources they have available to them.”
Ashley has previously worked in the beef, dairy and horticulture industries as an agronomist and hopes her technical knowledge can help improve dairy farm performance in Gippsland.
She will be working in the Land, Water and Climate area, which she described as “a passion of mine”.
Sarah Cornell has seen the dairy industry from multiple viewpoints, giving her a great feel for the ‘people’ side of the dairy industry.
The new regional extension officer will be taking the reins of workforce development and farm safety, while also coordinating the Gippsland Young Dairy Network.
“Having owned and leased-out a dairy farm, worked in the HR field and been employed at the milk-processing plant at Darnum, I understand many of the issues that surround people management and how time-consuming and complicated they can become,” she said.
“I’d like to help dairy farmers navigate their way to a place where employment is a net benefit to the farm and can run smoothly and without risk.”
In her role as YDN coordinator, Sarah said she wants to keep the program “active and growing, to enable the members to access more extension activities and help them reach their career goals”.
To find out more about GippsDairy programs or activities email or phone 5624 3900.