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AgFutures 2020 Conference

Posted by Jacqueline Wilson-Smith on
AgFutures 2020 Conference

On Saturday 17th September I had the pleasure of speaking at the Queensland Agfuture Forum at the Brisbane BCEC which was live streamed to over 700 guests across regional and rural QLD 

The Minister for Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Hon Mark Furner opened the forum in his address highlighting the need to flip adversity into opportunity and announced the launch of agtech finder to assist the connections between producers, agtech, people and ideas. I am delighted to note that agtech finder is an extension of the food agility & KPMG platform, building usage of an existing platform.

As the first speaker, I kicked off with a talk titled AgFuture: Purposefully Together. 

It was my opportunity to really put it out there how I think that every country, state or region has a responsibility in our challenging VUCA world today to step up play a part where they can really make a difference – find their purpose. 

I suggested that the unique spot to claim for Queensland is to be leaders in designing climate resilient, sustainable food systems. Turning our climate challenges (fires, droughts, floods and the tyranny of distance) into credible proof of concept points and leveraging our natural agricultural abundance, biodiversity, agri-food technologies, track’n’trace systems, STEM & research capabilities and a supportive governance structure.

In terms of ‘Together’,  I discussed how easy it is to say, ’Hey let’s collaborate and act like happy dolphins’ but in reality it’s very hard in practise because we’re humans! We’re wired to compete to survive and that essentially because of this, everyone has their own personal agenda and an outcome to achieve.

I posed that perhaps we could take a moment to reflect on our own style…I referenced the 5 Conflict Handling Modes Thomas-Kilman Instrument and asked the crowd to reflect on their own behaviour.

I called out that within our teams, communities and organisations we come across those amazing people who are naturally gifted in collaborative leadership and that right now we all need to make an effort to help give those people the opportunity to step up and shine. 




Fabian Carniel from the Mulgowie Farming Company spoke next with his inspiring case study of farming with the future generation in mind, regeneratively and valuing the soil, our natural capital.  His journey is such a wonderful example of farmers overcoming climatic and biosecurity challenges year after year with grit and above all effective collaboration with suppliers, researchers, customers and government agencies.

Then the dynamic Dr Sarah Pearson, Department of Innovation & Tourism Industry Development spoke and injected a sense of urgency to rapidly adopt technologies in ag and food and that speed is key and that covid is a catalyst to switching the pace. No time for mucking around.

Sarah also noted that no-one can be left behind, this really is a time to work together and make things happen. Now.

Finally to celebrate and congratulate the winners for their Outstanding contributions and innovations in agriculture, fisheries and forestry, 

Darling Downs farmer and former Queensland Farmers’ Federation President Stuart Armitage won the prestigious Peter Kenny Medal which is awarded for innovation leading to profitability and sustainability and the Minister’s Emerging Leader Award recognises professional excellence and leadership

and Jerome Leray, who founded AgTech company InFarm, was named the Minister’s Emerging Leader Award winner for recognising his professional excellence and Leadership. 

"These awards identify and support leaders and innovators in primary industry and I congratulate Stuart and Jerome on their success against a strong field of nominees,” Mr Furner said.

In all it was an inspiring motivating conference where we could address our challenges and celebrate our innovators and leaders within agri-food and fibre industries.  

A link to the entire recording of the AgFutures 2020 event can be found here 




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