The BCG Board consists of farmers elected by BCG members and co-opted specialists chosen by the Board and ratified by members at the AGM. The co-opted members bring a range of additional skills to the BCG Board, ensuring access to expertise it needs to govern effectively.Whilst Board meetings are usually held six times a year, the Board are actively involved with the various sub-committees and other activities that contribute to the overall strategic direction and governance that the Board provides to BCG. We are thankful for the dedication and commitment of each and every one of our Board members and would like to introduce you to them here.
John Ferrier – Chair
John is a founding member of BCG and was Treasurer of the Board for many years. John and his wife Robyn farm their 5000ha property ‘Wirrabilla’ with their son David and his wife De-Anne. The property is 25km north of Birchip and they grow wheat, barley, canola, lentils, field peas and sheep. John has a community focus being involved in a range of organisations including President of the Birchip P-12 School Council, active member in Birchip Landcare, the local silo growers group and Birchip Community Forum. John has been co-presenter of the ABC National Radio program ‘Bush Telegraph’, giving city and rural communities across Australia a better understanding of farm business and lifestyle. John is passionate about agriculture and is a keen adopter of latest technologies. He has an environmental focus and has set aside part of their land for Trust for Nature.
Dr Cherie Reilly – Vice Chair
Cherie Reilly involvement in agriculture started at childhood (her 94 year old grandma still lives on a farm in NSW) and progress into her adult years through study, work and the farm. Currently, she is involved in a family farming business with her husband Richard, brother-in-law Neville, his wife Kate and her husband’s parents Linton and Barbara. Together they manage dryland cropping and livestock properties at Corack and Swan Hill and an irrigation property in NSW. Cherie completed her Bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Melbourne before moving to Horsham in 1999 to undertake a regionally based, GRDC-funded scholarship which supported her PhD in agroecological environments for wheat breeding in southern Australia. This work helped form the basis of the current day National Variety Trials. Cherie worked at BCG for six and a half years in the research team, finishing as the research manager before taking time to raise three children with Richard. Now they have started school and kindergarten she says she has more flexibility to become connected again and contribute to agriculture in other ways. She is also looking forward to networking with experienced people in the industry. Cherie believes the future of agriculture is bright with new technologies and advancements in science. However sustainable rural communities are also a priority with farm sizes increasing, due to economies of scale, and corporate companies moving into the district. She believes BCG has been fantastic at helping famers move with change, overcome challenges, and share ideas and it is even more important that BCG stays at the forefront of advancements as well as challenges in agriculture. Cherie joined the Board in 2016.
Caroline has been a member of the BCG Board since 2007 and Chairman since 2012. She lives in Berriwillock and is a partner in the family grain farm with husband John Renney, and cousins, Kim and Nyree. Caroline is also a Director of GWMWater and member of the Loddon Mallee Regional Development Australia Committee. Caroline has a degree in Agricultural Science and a Master of Marketing (Agribusiness). She worked in the irrigated horticulture section of the Department of Primary Industries, Swan Hill for 19 years in the areas of industry development, export marketing, extension, irrigation and climate. Caroline received a Churchill Fellowship in 1998, travelling to Asia, South Africa and Chile to investigate markets and competitors of Swan Hill’s fresh stone fruit exports.
Ian McClelland, OAM
Ian McClelland is an inaugural and founding member of BCG and farms 8000ha, growing wheat, barley, canola, lentils, sheep and cattle. His interests are in education, research and practical applications on the farm. He is an honorary Senior Fellow of the Institute of Land and Food Resources – Crop production at the University of Melbourne. Ian is a Board Member of Marcus Oldham College, recipient of the 1998 Hugh McKay Innovators Award, a member of the selection panel for Churchill Scholarships, and recipient of the 2004 GRDC Seed of Light Award for Excellence in research and extension. In 2008, Ian was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia.
David ‘Rock’ Hudson is the managing director of his own consulting business, SGA solutions. Rock has an extensive history and networks within the grains industry where he is well regarded for his innovative work on developing pathways to market and GM technologies. He is also an experienced board director, CEO and executive officer in the private and public sector, including seven years as a board member of the Kondinin Group. Rock’s career objective is to work with innovative organisations.
Simon Craig is Managing Director and owner of consultancy business Agronomise, and a partner and lead consultant for Farm 360, both based in Swan Hill. Simon brings his strong understanding of the consultancy sector, agronomy and farm management, joining the BCG Board in October 2017.
Tim Rethus farms a rainfed broadacre cropping enterprise near Horsham. He has degrees in engineering and commerce from the University of Melbourne and worked in the oil industry for 11 years before returning to the family farm in 2013. Tim has been a member of the BCG Wimmera Advisory Committee since 2016 and joined the BCG Board in October 2018. He has a strong interest in agricultural innovation and data-based precision technologies.
Dr Ainslie Waldron
Ainslie joined the board of BCG in early 2020. She has extensive experience in governance. She was born in Scotland and has not lost her accent despite calling Australia home for the last 30 years. Ainslie is a business, board and management consultant and business book author. She holds an MBA and a doctorate as well as undergraduate degrees. Her most recent research features how Australian companies can improve their success through better managing diversity and inclusion. She is a life-long learner and ensures she keeps up to date with governance issues, policies and best practice in strategy, risk and governance particularly in the not-for-profit sector. Ainslie previously worked in senior positions across government in Queensland as an Executive Director in the Transport, TAFE and Infrastructure sectors. She has also worked extensively in pacific islands as well as in the UK and USA. She has been a member of a number of Australian and international boards, her former Australian board experience includes the boards of the Southern Queensland Rural Training Centre (Dalby Agricultural College), the University of Southern Queensland and Mensa Australia. Ainslie is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.
Dr James Hunt
Dr James Hunt is an agronomist and crop physiologist specialising in water limited productivity of dry-land cropping and mixed farming systems. His research focuses on using combinations of management and genetics to increase productivity and profitability of grain-based farming systems. Prior to joining La Trobe, he worked for CSIRO Agriculture for seven years. He has received scientific awards in 2013, 2014 and 2016, and the outcomes of his research have been widely adopted by grain growers across south eastern Australia.
Greg joined the BCG board in December 2020. As Rural Bank’s Regional Manager of Agribusiness Western Victoria, Greg is very familiar with the farming businesses and the people of this region. Greg grew up on a dairy farm in South Australia. He has a Bachelor and a Masters of Agribusiness and is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program.
Stefano de Pieri
Stefano joined the board December 2020. Renowned chef and restaurateur, Stefano hopes to change the farming paradigm of the Wimmera Mallee in terms of communication with consumers. Stefano was born in Treviso, near Venice, and migrated to Australia in 1974.
Joining the board in October 2021, Jonathan is a grain grower from Kaniva in the West Wimmera. The Dyers grow a mixture of bread and durum wheat, canola, lentils, faba beans and chickpeas in a continuous cropping rotation. Having a background in IT, Jonathan completed a Nuffield Scholarship in 2015 on ‘big data’ in agriculture.
Kayla joined the board in October 2021. Coming from a mixed cropping and sheep farm in Rupanyup, Kayla sees this as a great opportunity to ‘represent the region, young farmers and women in agriculture.’ Bringing a different sort of voice to the board as a young farmer, Kayla will serve a three year term.