YOUNG farmers with a desire to drive their knowledge and businesses forward have until Friday, June 14, to apply for the prestigious Nuffield Scholarship program and potentially follow in the footsteps of some of our region’s most respected agricultural producers.
South Gippsland is home to a long line of Nuffield Scholars, who can attest that the program presents a career defining opportunity for young farmers, opening doors to exciting and rewarding experiences including overseas study tours.
Previous recipients include Mirboo North vegetable grower and Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) vice-president Emma Germano; Fish Creek dairy farmer and Dairy Australia board member Graeme Nicoll; Won Wron dairy farmer and United Dairy Farmers of Victoria (UDV) president Paul Mumford; and Pound Creek dairy farmer the late Max Jelbart, who served on various industry boards and committees throughout his career and in 2016 was honoured with an Order of Australia for services to the dairy industry and the community.
Dumbalk North dairy farmer and UDV/VFF South Gippsland representative Damian Murphy was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship in 2012 and describes the Nuffield program as “an experience too good to let pass by”.
The scholarship allowed Damian to travel through Europe, the US, South America and New Zealand to investigate the different finance schemes in place around the world used by young farmers to start building their asset in agriculture.
Now that he’s had several years to implement lessons learned through his Nuffield experience, we asked Damian to reflect on how the scholarship program might help the next generation tackle the challenges of farming today and into the future.
Plus, there are more than 25 Nuffield Scholarships on offer in 2020, each valued at $30,000.
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What made you want to apply for a Nuffield scholarship?
“I was looking for answers to a question.
“In the years leading up to my scholarship, I was looking to grow my farming asset by purchasing cows, but I was frustrated that I could purchase a $100,000 tractor – a depreciating asset – with a 10 per cent deposit, yet I needed a 75 per cent deposit to get finance for $100,000 worth of cows.
“I attended a Young Dairy Network function where they had Graeme Nicoll talk about his Nuffield experience, and I realised this was an opportunity to see what programs and assistance other countries were offering to assist young farmers’ progress in agriculture.”

What opportunities did the scholarship open up for you?
“Nuffield opens up an amazing network of people who will bend over backwards and are happy to call in favours to assist you to succeed with your study topic.
“This includes the innovators, entrepreneurs, policy and advocacy teams and politicians in agriculture around the world.”

Can you sum up what you learned through your Nuffield experience?
“Lots of the issues facing agriculture in Australia are the same worldwide.
“The easy thing is to sit back and say, ‘this is my problem and what is X organisation or X politician doing to fix it?’
“With a Nuffield Scholarship, you have an opportunity to find out what the best in the world are doing to fix familiar problems and then bring this knowledge back to Australia and share that learning to effect change.”

How have you used what you learned in the years since receiving the scholarship?
“Because my study topic was young farmer finance schemes, and in 2012 we had our succession plan with finance worked out, it didn’t bring that much back to my own operation; but it did allow me to think big picture about what I wanted to achieve on farm and off farm to assist agriculture in Australia.
“Off farm, it’s led to policy and advocacy positions in the dairy industry at Victorian and national level, an advisory position with the Victorian government, and board opportunities.”

What would you say to encourage young farmers to apply for the 2020 scholarships?
“A Nuffield Scholarship is all about opportunity; and the opportunity to study and find answers to questions that interest you, and travel the world, embracing all the experiences that go along with that, are too good to let pass by.
“Leadership is another trait that can be enhanced through Nuffield.
“In Victorian agriculture, at the VFF, the current president David Jochinke, vice president Emma Germano, grains president Ashley Fraser, UDV president Paul Mumford and vice president John Keely are all Nuffield Scholars.”