The Australian Dairy Conference was initiated by a group of leading dairy farmers, scientists and industry representatives from around Australia. The group identified that the industry needed an independent national dairy conference to stretch and stimulate farmers’ minds and provide a forum for the open exchange of ideas, knowledge and science.
The aim is for the Australian Dairy Conference to be the premier dairy event that inspires the industry, giving it pride in its achievements and generating optimism in its future.
Nuffield Australia 2017 Scholar
Matthew Gunningham, from Mawbanna (near Burnie) in Tasmania, receives a 2017 Nuffield Scholarship supported by the Australian Dairy Conference and Nuffield Australia.
He will investigate people management and motivation, specifically how to build great teams in agricultural enterprises, many of which are getting larger and more geographically spread.
Matthew is particularly interested in how to ensure there is alignment between the goals of a business, and the day-to-day actions of the people who work within them.
Matthew wholly owns and manages three dairy farms (Gunningham Farms), which collectively run 2600 milking cows. He also manages three more dairy farms (The Dairy Trust) in partnership with another family, running a further 1750 cows. In addition, he is a shareholder, with no hands-on involvement, in another dairy farm with 1000 cows.
Matthew is married to Pippa and they have five children, Henry (aged 15), Amelia (aged 14). Olivia (aged 10), Elsa (aged 4) and William (aged 2).
Matthew’s research is particularly relevant given the dairy industry is now comprised of so many different ownership structures, often involving multiple farms.
He plans to explore his belief that the people side of an agricultural business has to be right in order to grow a substantial enterprise.
“I think many farmers are technically very good and have an excellent grasp of their particular area, but at the same time can lack the ‘softer’ skills needed to deal with people,” Matthew said.
“These ‘softer’ skills are critical too. And the ability to effectively balance them with technical skills is something top performing businesses, in a whole range of industries, have managed to achieve. I want to understand how to create these conditions and then how to apply this to our industry.”
Matthew will travel to New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South America.