Dairy leader’s vision
DAIRY farming history runs deep in Matt Gleeson’s family, but it’s the future of the industry he is trying to develop as the new GippsDairy chair.
The Boolarra farmer, who replaced outgoing chair John Versteden at the annual general meeting in October, can trace his family origins at Ennisvale farm back to the 1800s.
As the 21st century custodian of the farm, Matt said he wants to play a direct role in helping to maintain Gippsland as one of the great dairy farming regions of the world.
“It is great to be involved in the direction of an industry which is such a huge part of my life,” he said.
“Dairying is what I do, it is my core business, it is where I live, so I have a selfish interest in making sure it’s a successful industry.”
Having joined the board four years ago, Matt has had plenty of time to see the impact that GippsDairy can have on both its directors and the industry.
Now at the head of the boardroom table, Matt said he would build on GippsDairy’s reputation for using the dairy services levy to respond to the short-term needs of farmers, as well as developing strategies to deal with long-term industry issues.
“GippsDairy will keep listening and responding to the concerns of Gippsland farmers – and farmers within the different regions of Gippsland – and building on GippsDairy’s work in making itself a resource to fit those needs,” he said.
“A good example of this is the Dairy Workforce Project and jobs classified section.
“GippsDairy has identified labour as a key issue, and has translated that need into a resource for dairy farmers who can now go online and make connections with potential staff – it’s a great asset to the Gippsland dairy industry.”
Matt and wife Nadine share farm with Matt’s parents Mick and Margaret on a 600 cow, split calving property comprised of 600 effective milking acres.
With two year old Isabelle also keeping his hands full, Matt had to decide where to best invest his limited spare time.
GippsDairy’s reputation as an effective dairy industry leader led him to nominate for the board and eventually become its chair.
“Most of my time is spent being involved with the animals and business, but also I want to be involved with and aware of what is happening outside my farm gate,” Matt said.
“GippsDairy has a good reputation and is a good environment for developing the individual. It was a trusted place to put my time and effort.
“I believe it is a place where you can be involved in the industry and you can have an impact on its future direction.”
Matt sees Gippsland’s natural advantages of good soil, plentiful rain and reliable irrigation areas as assets that can be complemented by support and education for dairy farmers.
The GippsDairy chair believes that offering farmers opportunities to improve their dairy business skills is a key to making Gippsland a more profitable and productive region.
“We’re about supporting farmers so they can farm smarter and progress their business goals faster,” he said.
“GippsDairy’s aim is for farms to be making people wealthy, providing a good lifestyle and using land and inputs efficiently.
“The projects and activities we put on are about professional development for farmers – we want people to know the opportunities in their business and we want them manage risk well too.
“Challenges of climate, milk price or input costs are here to stay so building resilience against volatility is essential for Gippsland dairy farmers.
“It’s about making the right decision and then acting on it.”
Ultimately, Matt sees Gippsland as a wonderful place to create a career based around dairy farming and wants GippsDairy to help develop even greater opportunities for the future.
“Dairying is a great industry and is a great lifestyle, where the more you put in the more you will get out,” he said.
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