The Howard family carrying on a proud advocacy tradition
Here at Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) we believe in fostering partnerships with others who share our values to promote Australian Agriculture. Many of our Young Farming Champions alumniare proud advocates who readily volunteer to amplify the voices of these organisations. A perfect example is NSW Farmers which in it’s various incarnations has supported the agricultural industry in NSW since the 1800s, advocating for rural industries and country people in times of both peace and war.
Dione Howard is a veterinarian with Local Land Services in Wagga Wagga and has been a Young Farming Champion since 2015. She is particularly interested in agricultural policy development and was the inaugural WoolProducers Youth Ambassador, which saw her attend WoolProducers board meetings.
“I had very little experience with policy prior to the Youth Ambassador role. It has opened up a whole new world in the agricultural space and I feel that I now have a much clearer idea of how decisions are made that affect farmers and people like myself as a veterinarian.” say Dione
Dione is now a graduation of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, is on the PYiA board and is the Vice-Chair for the Youth Voices Leadership Team. She is also Secretary/Treasurer for her local NSW Farmer’s branch, following in the footsteps of her father Graeme who was a branch and district chairman for 15 years from the late 1980s.
Graham Howard and Dione share a love of sheep and advocacy
“My family has always shown me what being part of a community is about, whether it is volunteering for local sporting clubs, P&C committees or being a member of the local show society. When we’d take Dad to the plane to head to Sydney for the NSW Farmers annual conference I had an understanding, even from an early age, that he was off to help make decisions that were for the benefit of farmers. We’d stand there at the airport in our flannelette pyjamas and dressing gowns in the middle of July waving him off to the big smoke. It takes a lot to leave the family and the farm. It was a family ritual that left a last impression. ”
In his years with NSW Farmers Graeme was involved with the big issues of the day, namely water rights, native vegetation management and Ovine Johne’s Disease (OJD).
“It’s important for farmers to have a voice and seat of power about the issues that affect them and they look to NSW Farmers to address these concerns. Being a part of NSW Farmers also allowed me to understand a range of issues beyond my own industry, to build networks and to see the key players in the agri-political arena in action.” Graham says
Graeme’s grandfather was involved with early farming advocacy organisations in the 1950s and 60s, which has instilled a legacy in Dione and her siblings.
“I’ve always told them the world is run by those who turn up, and to take advantage of any opportunity. Turning up can take you a lot of places.” says Graham
Dione sees her role with NSW Farmers as the next step in her own advocacy journey, being a voice for primary producers and the rural communities they live and work in.
“I felt that becoming a member of my local NSW Young Farmers branch is a way to give back to my local community. Rural and regional Australia has been hit with drought, bushfires and now COVID-19, and Eastern Riverina (where our Young Farmer branch extends) has unfortunately felt the force of each. In the ‘old’ days (aka pre COVID) the face to face branch meetings provided a forum for young motivated agriculturalists to catch up over a beverage and discuss issues they face. We might not be meeting face to face at the moment, but we are tackling the challenges of late head-on. This includes making the most of being ‘tech natives’, providing virtual support to agriculturalists in our region through online meetings – as well as making sure valued positions in our community (eg Farm Counsellors) are here to stay.”
We applaud the Howard family for their contribution to agricultural policy development and their commitment to NSW Farmers and we look forward to watching Dione’s career flourish as she follows her father’s advice to grab any opportunity.