The Grassland Society of Southern Australia has appointed its first industry liaison officer as it moves to shore up its future and expand its membership base.
Society president Matt Mahoney said the appointment was designed to strengthen the GSSA as it celebrates its 60th anniversary and looks forward to the next 60 years.
The new industry officer, Latarnie McDonald, has a wealth of experience across many agricultural industries and soil-climatic zones, covering farm and grazing management.
Mr Mahoney said the appointment was a sign of the times with increasing pressure on volunteer-run organisations.
“People are busy doing their own jobs and we’re in a competitive environment so we felt the society needed someone to pick up the pace,” he said.
Ms McDonald’s role will include funding applications, organising events and helping the eight branches in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania to maintain activities and contact with membership base.
“This role will strengthen the society, provide more value to members and sponsors, and work collaboratively with other organisations,” Mr Mahoney said.
The society has a part-time secretary, but this is its first industry liaison position.
Mr Mahoney said the society was instigated and run by farmers and was keen to increase farmer support as it works to improve farm production.
“We’re going to offer more to members and sponsors than ever before,” he said. “There’s never been a better time for farmers, agribusiness professionals and sponsors to join to get the benefits of our branch activities, networking, access to the latest grasslands management techniques, one of the best newsletters in the field and an annual conference that has a comprehensive line-up of speakers and information.”
The GSSA hopes to grow its membership base of more than 500 by at least 10 per cent a year.
Ms McDonald, from central Victoria, was born and bred into a hands-on farming family in the Central Tablelands, with all four family members working together to run the 2000ha Merino, prime lamb and cattle property.
After studying agricultural science at Sydney University, Ms McDonald honed her skills for 10 years in the Department of Primary Industries’ Regional Agronomist team, with work published in the Australian Journal for Agricultural Research, worked as the national business and marketing manager for an agricultural certification company, and over the past 10 years developed a farm from scratch, opting for a smaller acreage to trial more intensive production.
During this time Ms McDonald completed program manager roles in education, land regeneration and government, and in her consultancy, designing farming systems for climate change adaptation.
Ms McDonald said the new position would help to bring relevant and timely events to GSSA members. “There’s a big need with the unknown impacts of climate change to help farmers adapt and this role will make sure we get projects happening that members want.”
Source: Grassland Society of Southern Australia
Featured Image: Latarnie McDonald