Forever climbing Everest and not quite reaching the top is damned exhausting but I know its worth the effort.

This post is inspired in the first instance by a brilliant post today by Victoria Taylor with a theme that is close to my heart

This is an extract from the post with the unusual title considering the content Senna vs Prost  the art of playing the game

About 40% of the projects I work on depend on sponsorship or partner funding to proceed each year. Each year we commence the painful task of asking for money. We spend a lot of time and resources (a lot!) demonstrating how our programs are the perfect fit for a wide range of potential sponsors and partners.

These programs buck tradition, they are innovative, different and don’t always fit neatly into the funding parameters of potential partners. The inability to “tick a box” often sees us booted out the door before we can demonstrate how the programs do fit their broader objectives.

In some instances it seems no matter how innovative and altruistic your program is, you are assessed on a political framework that nods to tradition over innovation.

Victoria goes on to say

We don’t communicate as well with urban Australians. We don’t show them how we play a part in their lives. We don’t pop up in unusual places or with different messages. And we don’t show them our future without farming.

Traditional approaches will get results, but they will be the traditional results.

I know funds are limited, but agriculture must get smart. If we don’t tell agriculture’s story in new ways to new audiences, others will. You can bet on that.

Ayrton Senna died in 1994 when his car failed to take a corner as he led the San Marino Grand Prix. By the end of his 10-year career, he was still shaking the upper echelons of the sport by declaring Formula 1 was all about politics and money.

While watching the film it saddened me to think that perhaps Prost’s approach was correct. Perhaps playing politics is just as important as talent. Maybe what we need to do is play the game and stop trying to buck tradition. After all, it is Prost who is still alive.

But then I was reminded that 18 years after his death it is Ayrton Senna who is remembered as one of the sport’s greatest drivers.

We need more Sennas in agriculture. People who love the industry and can communicate that love to a new audience. People who can capture the imagination of an audience who never thought it mattered before.

Art4agriculture can so relate to this. I made the decision 6 years ago to pour my heart and soul into the independent grass roots initiative Art4agriculture with the mission  “ to design and deliver community events that are a true celebration of the diversity, sustainability, creativity and progress of primary industries, their people, place and produce”

I started out full of hope and dreams and started knocking on doors.  I visited dairy industry stakeholder after stakeholder to see if they shared my vision. I was totally shocked by the blank looks I received. It got to the stage where I sometimes thought I must be living on a different planet. To me the vision was just common sense

100% of Art4Agriculture’s programs rely on sponsorship and partner funding. Thankfully for my sanity and my fervour it didn’t take me long to realise the more doors the dairy industry closed in my face the more determined I became and today when someone says no I believe that’s almost yes ( still to convince dairy industry –  but I am in it for the long haul.)

Thankfully my local community shared my vision with my local council providing seed funding for Picasso Cows (which Dairy Australia have since rolled out nationally). Picasso Cows is the prefect example of the phrase “from small things big things can grow”

The most important decisions I made was recognising all primary industries share common ground and that attitude is everything. If you don’t believe in yourself how can you expect anyone else to

This bring me to this this quote from Charles Swindoll via Janelle who writes the Farmer’s Daughter


The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.

Today I am lucky enough to work with other primary industries who share my vision Other primary industries who are committed to investing in their young people. Other primary industries who recognise how important it is to work with people who can capture the imagination of an audience who it never thought mattered before.  Yes consumers our customers do matter they are farmers bread and butter and undeniably the most important people in the food value chain.

These days Art4agriculture has the runs on the board and for me winning awards like Runner Up in the National Rabobank Industry Leader of the Year Award provides me with a platform and the very necessary exposure I didn’t have 6 years ago. When peak industry bodies fob me off by saying things like “DAFF wont approve of us using our government funding to invest in programs for our young farmers”   I can get an audience with the minister and ask him if this is fact or fallacy. And of course its fallacy. Today there are still peak industry bodies who work in silos who don’t have relationships and two way conversations with their stakeholders. They don’t partner with other industry bodies.  They see their mission as purely R&D and nothing else.

Farmers and their peak industry bodies need to think like other businesses in the 21st century and not only acknowledge that marketing is the strategic part of doing business, and investing in our young people is our future but also act.

Farmers are always been told you will go bankrupt if you do things the way your grandfather did. Its time some of our peak industry bodies took their own advice.  Indeed agricultural productivity gains in this country have been phenomenal but we are getting left way behind in the value chain engagement and relationship building stakes. As Einstein once said we have changed everything but the way we think and talk.

Victoria is so right “We need more Sennas in agriculture. People who love the industry and can communicate that love to a new audience”

I work with young farmers every day, they are out there. They want to farm and if we provide them with the skills sets they need, they want to get out their in their communities and tell agriculture’s story and they do it so well.

See Alison McIntosh inspire a new generation of agricultural ambassadors here

Farmers unite, stand up and be heard, partnerships are the answer, youth are our future. There are initiatives like Art4agriculuture and RDC’s like RIRDC offering opportunities for our young people  that need to be funded by industry partners and we have to tell our peak bodies we want them funded.

Farmers pay levies to peak industry bodies, our role does not stop with providing the money.  We are also in driving seat if we chose to be but that means taking an active role, getting out on the track, turning the wheels, sitting in the stands is not good enough and in this instance that means providing input and direction to the decision making process.

We are still in the race but every second counts lets take the corner and take it well by make the right strategic decisions

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