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Roma Britnell – 2011 Nuffield Australia Scholar

I applied for a Nuffield scholarship to get a better understanding of world agriculture, because I’m often asked my opinion and asked to represent agriculture outside the farm gate. I felt it was important to be passionate, but it was also important to get a handle on what the world offers and what the challenges are, so that it could help me understand agriculture in Australia.

I studied the opportunities that exist, given the amount of food that we’re going to have to supply, but out of that came the question of how are farmers actually going to capture profit. So I researched different models that farmers have available today and the attitude towards their importance and success. I looked at co-operative models, family businesses, value-adding and niche markets across the UK and northern Europe. I then studied the challenges that can hinder those opportunities and travelled across Canada and the USA, Mexico and Brazil.

In short, my Nuffield experience was outstanding. I was told that what I would see and do would exceed my expectations and it certainly did.  My scholarship assisted me to gain a broader understanding of agriculture and helped me understand future opportunities.

Assessing the right time to undertake a scholarship is a challenge and I considered many reasons why I shouldn’t apply. For example, we have four children, our family operates three farms and I had to consider the cost implications and time. However, I was told “it might never be the right time so just do it”, and that was the best advice I can give.

Our business and finances have – and will – continue to benefit considerably in the future. A Nuffield Scholarship is an ongoing journey of learning which helps me develop skills and I know this will continue to benefit us in the future.

Roma Britnell is a dairy farmer. Her farm is located at Woolsthorpe, Victoria.

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