A board comprising leaders in agriculture, sustainability, water management and law has been elected for the Southern NSW Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, NSW.
Bega Cheese Limited executive chairman Barry Irvin, AM, was elected to lead the board at its first meeting on September 24.
In a further boon for the Hub, Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, David Littleproud announced that it will receive a further $2.5 million in funding.
The additional funding - part of $20 million allocated to the eight drought hubs - will help delivery of the national agricultural innovation agenda and focus on responsive strategies, including expanding their remit into fisheries and aquaculture.
Mr Irvin welcomed the additional funding and said he wanted to turn the collaboration and skills of the hub's partners into tangible solutions for industry and communities.
Mr Irvin said the hub would consider options that encompass solutions for the economic, social and environmental impact of future droughts.
"We need to talk less about drought and more about innovation and new processes," he said.
"How do we change our preparation and approach for the inevitability of another drought? The only way we will achieve this is through genuine collaboration."
Mr Irvin said the hub had an impressive cohort of partners that covered a wide range of activities and that the board would focus on using those resources effectively.
His belief that "more can be achieved with the wisdom of the collective" has enabled Bega Cheese to exceed expectations and grow to be the largest Australian food company of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).
But first and foremost, Mr Irvin is a fifth-generation dairy farmer, currently watching his sons and grandchildren continue that tradition.
His experience on the land and through more than 20 years of agricultural business has shown him first-hand the widespread and devastating effects of drought.
He said the key to the hub's success would be ensuring quality research was used in a way that garnered real-world solutions to benefit industry, communities, farmers and the environment.
"We will be gaining knowledge for all parts of the community," Mr Irvin said.
"If we can increase knowledge and increase understanding, that will go a long way to addressing things we haven't previously understood.
"Our goal is to have as many people as possible understand the key actions and ambition of what we want to achieve. That vision will include that we have helped individuals and communities to have as many tools as possible to change practice, to innovate and prepare."
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