President juggles many rural roles
When Tiffany Davey took on the role of AgConnectWA’s 2019-20 committee president last month, it seemed like the inevitable next step in the life of a passionate supporter of WA agriculture.
Her resume already includes her current work as one of the organisers of the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days, membership of the Liebe Group and Rural Room, a spot in the finals of this year’s WA Young Achiever Awards, and a place among the 2016 ABC Heywire winners.
The AgConnectWA role will enable Ms Davey, pictured, to use skills developed on-farm, as a governess in the outback, and communicating with people.
“I stepped into the role of president of AgConnectWA to not only ensure that the next generation of young people in agriculture has the chance to be the face of their own industry but to ensure there are events that provide the opportunity for the generation coming through to find their tribe,” Ms Davey said.
“You need mates supporting you, and AgConnectWA has been essential for so many people, is setting them up with friends they can call upon in years to come.
“I credit the success of my career so far to regional Australia as I have been able to create opportunities for myself out here.
“I believe you should actively create the place you want to be and if there’s something you want in your community - make it happen.”
Ms Davey describes herself as a late entrant to agriculture, despite a past which included growing up as a member of the fifth generation to live on the family farm at Konnongorring, studies at Wongan Hills District High School and Cunderdin Agricultural College, and stints working on stations around Australia.
“I grew up out here in Konnongorring and I am grateful for it every day,” Ms Davey said.
“I don’t take it for granted the fact I was born into this life.”
As a child, she took part in the “everyday” farm jobs like sheep work and rock picking.
But a career in agriculture was not something she really considered.
“I studied communications and then decided I wanted to go and see Australia,” Ms Davey said. “So I ended up back here by sheer chance really. I left to travel around Australia to basically see what else was out there.
“I loved the life on a pastoral property but was ready to sink my teeth into a new challenge and use some of my communications skills.”
A job with Dowerin Events Management, the organisers of the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days, provided an opportunity to combine her skills.
Since arriving back in WA, Ms Davey has involved herself in the agricultural landscape, and she is studying agribusiness at Muresk, where she is the vice-president of the Muresk Students’ Association.
She is also involved in the NextGenWA initiative intended to “get the ag” back into the IGA Perth Royal Show.
In her role as the field days assistant co-ordinator, she is able to use and develop her passions for agriculture, education and storytelling in various way.
At the same time, she is drawing on her past experience of life in rural and regional Australia to do her work.
“I feel my regional background installed values into me that I will utilise throughout my lifetime — to get to a school camp we had to pitch in and fundraise,” she said.
“We had to work for what we wanted and it’s been a key message since.
“My passion for the agriculture industry stems from the values I’ve learnt from the female farmers in my family.”
“On both my mother and fathers side of the family they have been farming for a few generations - with that there has been these generations of women who have nurtured through feeding, loving and providing to those in our families.”
And while her roots are solidly planted in the Wheatbelt soils of WA, her perspective is far from being insular, with her Australian experiences broadened by time spent looking at agriculture further abroad.
“I went to Vietnam as I wanted to gain an understanding of the live export industry on my own terms,” Ms Davey said.
“When I was over there I was able to see the Australian cattle provide nourishment and fill the hungry tummies of people in a third world country.
“I got so much satisfaction out of playing a tiny role in providing those countries with the highest quality food.”
“The reality is we are always going to face challenges as an industry but at the end of the day people are going to have to eat.”
Ms Davey said that farmers were going to “learn from the mistakes made by the generations before us and make our own mistakes”.
“I think there are things we are going to be better at, communication is the first thing that comes to mind.
“I see our generation already leaving the “Thank a Farmer” campaign behind and instead adopting slogans like ask an agriculture professional.
“This is already changing the dynamics in the story surrounding food production.
“People are asking where their food and fibre originates from---I see that as being the next food trend.”
Ms Davey said that the industry would continue to evolve.
“We are hopefully going to adjust with it and it goes back to the importance of your tribe — hopefully the industry is all of us — every man women and his dog facing the challenges together,” she said.
Ms Davey said that her many roles within agriculture and the community in this State provided her with the change to indulge her interests.
“I’m fortunate to have a really good balance. I live on my families property but I have an off farm role where I feel fulfilled and get to work for an organisation that’s committed to the sustainably of regional Australia while also encouraging me to mould my role around my passions,” she said.
Following on from her enthusiasm for education and storytelling, both will feature at Dowerin’s big event his year.
“We are launching the experience agriculture hub at the Dowerin,” she said.
“I’ve been working on what I consider an encouraging environment for anyone to ask questions about the origins of their food.
“I also get to work with organisations such as eco fashion week where we promote the story between fibre and runway while promoting slow fashion---then, after a few days off farm, I get to go home - head out bush to my bees, play around and annoy dad with the sheep,” she said.
And though she says she is not a full-time farmer, she is certainly a practical food producer.
“I’ve never wanted to be a conventional farmer so the broad acre aspect off our property doesn’t appeal to me, but I love the livestock aspect and at the end of the day would love to come home and go into pastured eggs to complement our prime lamb and focus on a niche salt bush finished lamb that markets directly to the consumer,” she said.
She attributes her interest and desire to be involved in sustainable agriculture with her family’s deep connection to their own land.
“Dad plays a huge role for my love for our property, he has always put a focus on ensuring we run a sustainable business and his love for Landcare constantly inspires me to break out from the norm and not be afraid to try something different,” she said.
“I’m motivated by my passion to be involved in feeding the world and would eventually love to get more involved in the live export industry to ensure we continue to provide high quality food to countries all over Australia. Particularly developing countries- as I think everyone should have the right to sustainably and ethically produced produce.
“My love for regional Australia stems from the fact regional Australia is where I hope to always live. I have a clear vision for what I would love to see in our regional communities,” Ms Davey said.
The AgConnect WA committee also includes Vice Shannen Barrett (vice-president), Lavinia Wehr (secretary), Rebecca May, Tom Curnow, Renae Piggott, Josh Fuchsbichler and Michaela Hendry.
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