Jamie Snell, from Merrigum in the Goulburn Valley region of Victoria, received the Nuffield scholarship supported by Gardiner Dairy Foundation in 2006.

Lifetime of dairyfarming sparks curiosity

Jamie and his wife Anne both have a lifetime background in dairying, and sharefarmed in Gippsland for ten years prior to moving to the Goulburn Valley, where they now own and operate a 129ha irrigated dairy enterprise. They milk 260 AI bred commercial Holsteins, with a split calving of 80% spring and 20% autumn.

They initially started with management inputs, before moving to ownership of some plant and equipment, then herd ownership and ultimately farm ownership in 1996.

A focus on family farm succession

During Jamie’s Nuffield scholarship year, he studied business structures and efficiencies of the family farm, along with opportunities for new entrants and succession of the family business. As a father of four, succession planning was something that Jamie had put thought into already, hence his interests in the crossover between good business decisions and farming family negotiations. His final report, entitled ‘Success and Succession in the Family Farm Business’ analysed approaches to succession planning in the family farm business from a global perspective. He also investigated issues that impact agriculture, attracting young people to the industry, the policy and politics of irrigation and approaches to managing productivity and efficiency gains.

Jamie travelled with the Global Focus Tour through the Philippines, China, America, Canada, Ireland and France. He visited farming families across the globe at all stages of their succession planning – from those implementing to those at a standstill because “the cheque book still being held by the 82 year old.” Obviously there is no one size fits all method for succession planning, however the insights that Jamie took home teach a number of valuable lessons.

Nuffield Scholars are active industry participants

Since participating in the Nuffield program, Jamie acquired more land to grow the family business and continues to be involved in industry issues at local, state, national and international level. He played a leadership role in the industry initiated response to the 2002-03 drought and served as Chairman of the Australian Dairy Conference organising committee during 2008/9.

As with all Nuffield Scholars, the experience had a great effect on Jamie.

“”For me, the Nuffield experience is hard to quantify. Many doors opened throughout the world. The chance to meet with industry leaders from many aspects of agriculture, as well as farmers, industry professionals, politicians is priceless. You gain a perspective of how globalised we are, and a respect for the circumstances our contemporaries conduct their business’s in. Above all, it will be the friendships that you make with other scholars, that will stay with you a lifetime.””

Click here to read Jamie’s final report.