Nuffield Scholar Claire Booth
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Nuffield supports Claire’s passion for ag

Category Innovation

Claire Booth

Forget agriculture’s 2030 $100bn industry road map, if Nuffield Scholar Claire Booth has anything to do with it, Australia will be taking the shortcut.

The Australian industry, she believes, is well-placed to fast-track projected timelines - but it will take a collective effort unlocking rural Australia’s true potential.

“For agriculture to reach its full capabilities we need to sharpen our swords at an individual and family farm level,” she said.

“We need to be excellent communicators, understand politics, trade issues, banking issues, succession issues and invest in human capital if we are to achieve excellence in the farming sector.”

And Claire, who hails from Geurie in NSW’s Central West believed the 2017 Nuffield Scholarship experience she shared with husband Brendan and young son, provided the perfect platform for both individual, and industry, progression.

“I put my hand up – full of imposter syndrome, doubts and nerves – and having been lucky enough to be chosen, can confidently say the Nuffield Scholarship transforms you in ways you could never have imagined.”

“It’s also a terrific opportunity to strengthen the industry as a whole – a rising tide raises all the boats.”

As a bank dedicated to agriculture, Rabobank has long applauded the Nuffield Scholarship’s valuable contribution to the industry, and helps further support the initiative by sponsoring a Nuffield Scholar annually.

Claire’s was one such scholarship supported by Rabobank - her research focused on the transfer of the farm business from one generation to the next.

“My research looked at the transition of assets and management, and included solutions to assist both the retiring generation, and emerging farmers trying to enter the market,” she said.

A solicitor by trade, Claire also undertook a regional roadshow together with a succession planner and bankers, sharing her learnings with farmers and graziers across NSW.

Her Nuffield travels included a USA tour investigating equity raising, Europe to explore traditional farming family models, and Brazil where long-term land leases are an alternative to ownership.

“Personally and from a business perspective the experience was extremely enlightening. I came home from Brazil and knew immediately that we needed to think more broadly as a farming business.”

Claire and Brendan run a mixed farm together, and she said the experience gave the couple the confidence to scale and take on more debt, to remunerate staff more progressively and help facilitate career pathways for agriculture’s next generation.

“We have 16, 17 and 18-year-olds busting to get into agriculture, and we see our family farm business as providing an incredible opportunity for trainees to begin their agricultural journey,” she said. “Whether they stay with us, head into the corporate world, or return to their family farm – our intention is to train progressive young farmers who are fully aware of modern business opportunities.”

Quality communication was another key outcome of the scholarship Claire and Brendan prioritise – so much so that $30,000 is spent annually through the business working with communication specialists specialising in non-verbal communication.

“We get young staff thinking they’re heading out to learn how to calibrate a seeder, and we have to say ‘no, that comes in week four, first you have to spend a week with Brendo learning the fine art of non-verbal communication training!’” she laughed.

“It’s not what they’re expecting, but it’s perhaps their most valuable lesson - you can be the hardest worker out there, but if you haven’t nailed your communication skills, you may as well give up,” she said.

“We don’t have it down-pat yet, but I think we are getting closer to where we want to be – we enjoy a strong, supportive marriage, which leads a progressive farm business - where great people want to work hard, yet enjoy flexibly alongside the needs of the modern family,” she said.

“And I genuinely believe our great communication culture at Booth Ag, enables the business to handsomely reward our staff for their dedicated efforts.”

A fierce rural advocate, Claire said she was grateful to Rabobank for supporting her Nuffield Scholarship, and encouraged anyone thinking of applying to grab the opportunity with both hands.

“Agriculture has the potential to be as lucrative and significant as Australia’s mining industry, and smash predetermined industry road maps, but to do that we all need to work more efficiently, collaboratively and communicate – and the Nuffield Scholarship provides the perfect opportunity to help take a lead and set this course,” she said.

For more information on how to become a Nuffield Scholar click here

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