Dietician to rice grower

Deni rice grower says you don't need ag to bring valuable skills to a family farm


Cropping
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Women in Rice keynote speaker is Kellie Crossley

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Kellie Crossley with her husband Andrew and children, Will, 6, Sam, 11 and Lucy, 8.

Kellie Crossley with her husband Andrew and children, Will, 6, Sam, 11 and Lucy, 8.

Deniliquin rice grower Kellie Crossley says not having an agricultural background is no barrier to being able to offer valuable skills to a farming business.

Ms Crossley is the keynote speaker at the 2019 Women in Rice event hosted by Rice Extension and held in Finley this year.

At the event she will focus on the transferable skills women can bring from experiences in other careers and industries to a family farm business.

"Being a valuable asset to the farm business doesn't have to mean you have an agribusiness degree or need to get on the back of a shovel or in the sheep yards," Ms Crossley said.

"Women have so many essential skills that they can bring to the farm table."

Ms Crossley herself did not have a background in agribusiness but started her career as a dietician and worked for many years in community and health management.

She now plays a crucial role in the management of the cropping, sheep and cattle properties she and her husband, Andrew, run alongside Andrew's parents, Robyn and Ken.

"Those health management roles enabled me to learn financial budgeting, performance management, organisational skills, work health and safety and strategic planning," she said.

Ms Crossley also took the family through the difficult transition to become a paperless business.

She said the farm management role taken on by many women on the land has expanded to much more than simply 'doing the books'.

"You're not just paying the bills, you need to be tracking water availability, doing budgets, applying for grants," she said.

One thing she learnt recently was to outsource parts of the business where possible.

"What I've learnt is look at where your strengths are and then look at what are things that other people could probably do better then myself," she said.

Ms Crossley said water availability was by far the biggest challenge for rice growers at the moment.

"Having access and availability to water is the key to rice growing, understanding water budgets is crucial now," she said.

"Looking at how can we get the biggest bang for our buck with that water."

She said lack of water has also led to other challenges.

"Mental health is a big thing, many women are having to support their partner as well because certainly this year there's very few rice crops that have gone in," Ms Crossley said.

Ms Crossley balances her on-farm role with working part time and looking after three children, Sam, 11 and Lucy, 8 and Will, 6.

  • Kellie Crossley will speak at the Women in Rice event on June 14 at the Finley Sports Centre.
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