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Radisson Blu Hotel, Cork. Jan 12th and 13th 2022

2022 Positive Farmers Conference Speakers

As usual we bring you top world-renowned speakers, they will cover the key technical, financial, people management and research needs for successful dairy farming and profitable expansion and this year focus on the challenges facing all farmers in these uncertain times.

Matthew Gunningham, one of Australia’s more successful dairy farmers, capping off a decade of exponential growth, becoming a

Nuffield scholar and changing to overcome what he saw as either recurring problems in the business, perceived upcoming challenges

and perhaps industry practices that he didn’t like.


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(Little Island)

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Positive Farmers, Cork, Ireland Open; Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm Telephone; 353 87 6457987 Email:
MATTHEW said once they bought into the Tasmanian dairy industry, their subsequent growth had been driven by a simple philosophy: “We have always targeted profitability over production. That is our single biggest point of difference. We don’t get distracted by the noise surrounding the industry”. He said the industry was too production-focused “Ancillary industries feed off the industry, who are keen to get farmers to spend money on products, from feed to machinery to additives and different technologies that lift production. “But I don’t believe many of them actually help the farmer. I don’t believe they help profit or lifestyle. They simply make people busier, and the business harder to run. “We keep things relatively simple, using proven grass farming principles that may be considered old-fashioned.” Matthew said across all farms the key focus was on “following the grass curve” to most efficiently turn grass into milk in the spring, aiming to have cows calved when grass takes off: “the cheapest way to produce milk”. Nuffield Scholarship Matthew’s scholarship investigated people management and motivation, specifically how to build solid teams in agricultural enterprises, and how to ensure alignment between the goals of a business and the day-to-day actions of people working within them. “When I first came here my ambition was to drive the business. I love to work — working every hour doesn’t worry me,” he said. “I got to the point where there weren’t any more hours in the day for me to work but I had an ambition to go forward and so if we were going to keep going we needed to involve more people.” He said his farm managers are independent, running budgets and employing staff. “I would not want anyone standing behind me telling me what to do. That is not motivating.” Matthew said his Nuffield subject was vital not only for his farm, but also the industry because increasingly dairy businesses were comprised of many different ownership structures. As such, he plans to look at agricultural and non-agricultural businesses to get the most out of staff, from incentives, to key performance indicators and feedback structures. “The people side of an agricultural business has to be right in order to grow a substantial enterprise. “On our farms I see that we will only keep on growing. If you’re not growing, it feels like you’re going backwards.” CHANGE We decided that there were a number of issues that we saw as either recurring problems in our business, perceived upcoming challenges and perhaps industry practices that we didn't like. We asked if we could redesign from scratch, how would it look - to address all of the above. Matthew will be speaking on both days of the conference on topics that will be of great interest and benefit to all our delegates. Definitely a much anticipated number of sessions that will give great incite into strategic decision making when growing a dairy business and managing staff to achieve a win win for everyone involved.


Radisson Blu Hotel, Cork. Jan 12th and 13th 2022

2022 Conference Speakers

As usual we bring you top world-renowned speakers, they will cover the key technical, financial, people management and research needs for successful dairy farming and profitable expansion.

Jack Kennedy (Irish Farmers Journal)

Jack Kennedy is the Dairy Editor with the Farmers Journal which he joined in October 2002. His main areas of responsibility relate to outlining the best existing and emerging technology inside the farm gate to dairy farmers. He previously worked as a researcher at Moorepark Grassland and Dairy Research Centre. He hails from a farming background in Cahir, Co Tipperary. He has a degree from the University College Dublin in Agriculture and a doctorate from Moorepark and UCD. His interests outside of farming are cycling and following all sports.

Adrian Van Bysterveldt, Farm Advisor with Dairy Holdings, NZ

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Brendan is a project leader with responsibility for the development and implementation of grassland science multi-year farm systems research projects at Curtins Farm, Teagasc Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork and Ballyhaise Agricultural College, Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan. Current Projects Investigation of alternative autumn and spring grassland management practices within intensive pasture-based spring milk production systems. An evaluation of the biological and financial implications of extended grazing within a wetland soil in the Border Midlands Western Region. Education Executive MBA, University College Cork 2011 PhD in Dairy Science, University College Dublin 2004 Higher Diploma in Business Studies, Michael Smurfit Business School, University College Dublin 2001 Bachelor of Agricultural Science, University College Dublin 2000

Dr Brendan Horan, Research Officer - Grassland Science, Teagasc

Sian Bushell, (Wales)

Con Hurley, Cork

Descended from a long line of West Wales farmers, Siân Bushell was trained as a succession facilitator in Australia in 2006 by Lyn Sykes, a Family Farm Business Facilitator. Armed with these skills she set up Siân Bushell Associates to provide succession planning for farming families and other family businesses. This followed a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Glamorgan University gained in 2005. Before that, she was partner and then director of a successful dairy farm for 25 years and has been a director and chairperson of two dairy farm related businesses. Good communication skills and an understanding of how to manage people were evident in her farm business where she gained an Investors In People Award. Sian also completed a Primary Certificate Course in Performance Coaching in 2012. Farm business study tours have taken Siân across New Zealand, Ireland and across the UK, where her services as an inspirational speaker have been much in demand.

Donal Patton, Lead Dairy Researcher at Ballyhaise, Cavan

Donal is a research officer with Teagasc based in Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan. Together with his brother Joe, Donal manages the dairy farm on their home farm near Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan. Donal is passionate about grass based systems and profitable dairy farming. Lead Dairy Researcher at Ballyhaise

Dr. Nollaig Heffernan

Tadgh Buckley,

Head of Agri Sector AIB Bank

Dr. John Roche, NZ

John has a very distinguished record as a scientist and researcher in the dairy industry and academia.

He most recently worked as a principle scientist at DairyNZ. He did his bachelor degree at Moorepark and has worked for over 25 years in Australia/New Zealand. He holds a honours degree in Agricultural Science, A masters in Farm Systems and Pasture Management, and a PhD in Animal Nutrition. Scientific work experience includes: - Researcher for Dairy Production, Moorepark Ireland - 5 years as a Senior Scientist, Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, Australia - 6 years with the Dairying Research Corporation and Dexcel in New Zealand - 1.5 years as an Associate Professor in University of Tasmania, Australia
Tadgh has worked in various agri advisory roles in AIB since the early 2000s. Most recently, he headed up the bank’s agri advisory team in Co. Cork and the south-west. The qualified financial advisor runs a dairy farm and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Science from University College Dublin (UCD). As well as this, the Cork native picked up a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Limerick in 2015. The accomplished academic was also awarded a Nuffield Scholarship in 2009. For his topic, he chose to examine the role of dairy future markets and other price risk management mechanisms in the EU dairy industry
Nollaig Heffernan is an independent Management Consultant based in Ireland who specialises in Leadership and Organisational Psychology. She works across sectors with businesses from sole traders to multi-nationals to improve their performance by increasing the efficiency of their most valuable asset; their people. Nollaig regularly delivers workshops to Dairy Discussion Groups across the UK and Ireland and has spoken at seminars and conferences on topics relating to labour efficiency, self-management and change management in the Dairy Sector. Nollaig graduated with an honours degree in Applied Psychology followed by a Higher Diploma in Business and Financial Information Systems from University College, Cork, Ireland. A Masters in Work and Organisational Psychology from the University of Hull, UK, combined both disciplines of psychology and business and inspired further research in the form of a PhD, specialising in the area of leadership and its measurement under the supervision of Dr. Peter Clough. This dual-discipline background in business and psychology has been invaluable in helping companies and organisations to improve their performance through both their processes and their people. Nollag was voted best speaker of the 2018 Positive Farmers Cobference (by the delegates)
Con Hurley is a writer and life coach. In 2009 he published his first book on Life Planning and followed with two biographies. The first book of his autobiography is with the editor and his current project is titled ‘What’s My Legacy?’ Over the past 18 years, he has lectured and facilitated on two MBA courses and other courses on the topics of life planning, flourishing, happiness, effective decision making and journaling. Con was Dairy editor of the Farmers Journal for many years and a founder member of The Positive Farmers

Marion Beecher, Research officer, Teagasc

Research Interests Dairy farm labour productivity and efficiency Labour efficient technologies, e.g. infra-structure, facilities and practices and work organization Human resource management within dairy farm businesses Current Projects An evaluation of work organisation and human resource management within Irish dairy farm businesses. Maximising labour productivity and minimising labour demand on Irish dairy farms Education PhD in Animal Science, University College Dublin Bachelor of Agriculture Science, University College Dublin

Catherine & Liam Millerick

Catherine and Liam Millerick are from Fethard in Co Tipperary.

The husband and wife team is milking 123 cows on a 65ha milking platform,

with a further 20ha temporary grazing arrangement.

In 2013, they switched to once-a-day milking.

Today, the majority of the herd is crossbred and the Millericks continue to milk

once a day, citing quality of life as being the biggest factor in the decision. Their

herd is one of the highest EBI herds in the country at 168 and 2018 calves have

an EBI of 188

Managing Director, Down to Earth Advice Ltd

(Little Island)

Adrian unfortunately will not be able to speak to this years Conference. “ I very much regret that due to my current illness that I will not be able to meet my many Irish friends at the Positive Farmers Conference this year. Currently I am receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer, the prognoses however is hopeful so I very much hope that I will be able to catch up with all my Irish friends in 2020.” We wish Adrian, his wife, Annie and family our full support at this difficult time. Given Adrian’s positive attitude we would be very hopeful of seeing Adrian many times in Ireland in the future.

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