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Outstanding regional and rural leadership


Foundation co-founder honoured with OAM

Foundation co-founder honoured with OAM

The Australian Rural Leadership Foundation would like to congratulate its co-founder and passionate advocate for rural Australia, Bruce Gowrie Smith on his Order of Australia Medal.

The Foundation, along with Nuffield Australia jointly nominated Mr Gowrie Smith for a Queen’s Birthday award for his considerable contribution to agriculture in Australia, and he received the honour on Sunday, 8 June.

Mr Gowrie Smith is a farmer from Darlington Point, New South Wales whose most significant contribution to agriculture and his rural community has, and continues to be, his work to develop better farming practices.

He has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and enthusiasm in showing, rather than simply telling, how farming enterprises can adapt and thrive.

He has been a contributor to the irrigation-water debate and he has been active in the Ground Water Users’ Association. His broad understanding of the issue has greatly contributed to progress in this on-going debate.

He has served on numerous boards and committees associated with rural Australia and agricultural production and he was instrumental in establishing the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation in 1992.

Mr Gowrie Smith was awarded an Order of Australia Medal on the Queen’s Birthday for his services to agriculture, to rural development, and to the community.

More on Bruce Gowrie Smith

Bruce Gowrie Smith is a farmer from Darlington Point, specialising in large-scale irrigation development, management and production of grains, oilseeds and vegetables.

He has always been a leader in on-farm innovation and challenged many of the traditional concepts about the workings of agriculture. Through his work, Mr Gowrie Smith not only led on-farm technology and improved production, but also built on understandings about how farm products were marketed.

He was a leading figure in the development of the Coarse Grain Growers’ Association, which pioneered a grower marketing scheme for coarse grains. This bold initiative led to the establishment of grower-controlled marketing organisations.

Mr Gowrie Smith served on general council of the United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association of NSW; he was Chair of the Oilseed Research Committee of NSW from 1974 to 1980; and he was Deputy Chair of the Australian Coarse Graingrowers Association from 1970 to 1976.

He was a Director of Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) from 1990 to 1996; Director of the Riverina Development Board from 1993 to 1996; Formation Chair and Executive Member of the Riverina Food Network from 1993; and a Director of Rural Press Limited.

While a Director of RIRDC, Bruce was instrumental in establishing the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation in 1992. This was highly significant at the time as most industry and government organisations were focusing on investing in products rather than people.

The Foundation was built on a view that the difference between successful rural communities and those perceived as failing was not the inherent natural resources or strategic position but, very often, an individual or group of individuals, such as a service club, standing out and taking on a leadership role.

Bruce strongly believed that resources should be invested in the development of leaders committed to rural and regional Australia so he actively engaged in helping to establish the Foundation.

Now this organisation has more than 700 alumni Australia-wide and in 2012, celebrated its 20th birthday. Bruce was a major player in the organisation’s establishment. He remained as a Board member of the Foundation from 1992 to 1998, and served as Deputy Chair from 1994 to 1998.

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