Women recognised for contribution to grains sector

Author: | Date: 10 Mar 2016

portrait of Maree Crawford and James Clark

Photo: Maree Crawford was presented with the 2016 GRDC Summer Grains Women in Agriculture award by GRDC Northern Panel chairman James Clark at a gala dinner on the Gold Coast last night.

The Australian grains industry recognised the role women play in the paddock and beyond during a gala awards dinner held as part of the 2016 Australian Summer Grains Conference on the Gold Coast this week.

More than 400 delegates from growers to researchers, marketers and customers across five industries – sorghum, maize, sunflower, soybean and mung­beans – came together for the conference.

But the highlight for many was the gala awards, where the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) presented the prestigious 2016 GRDC Summer Grains Women in Farming award to New South Wales grain grower Leslie Hathway.

Leslie and her husband Mark Hathway run a 3200ha enterprise on Wyuna, at Mullaley, between Coonabarabran and Gunnedah. It is a mixed operation with summer grains, winter crops and cattle.

The mother-of-four is renowned for her commitment to the grains industry, her community involvement and her passionate quest for knowledge to improve on-farm practices.

The Hathway’s agronomist and consultant Jim Hunt described Leslie as ‘driven and persistent’ and a strategic planner in agricultural business, playing close attention to detail and with an innate ability to identify production issues.

The award recognised Leslie’s straightforward approach to farming, where her focus is on “having a safe working environment where learning is prioritised, being a good neighbor and a business operator with integrity and being profitable for the long term”.

The GRDC also honoured the significant contribution of women to the grains industry, presenting the 2016 GRDC Summer Grains Women in Agriculture award to industry identity Maree Crawford.

Fittingly Maree is also the chair of the Australian Summer Grains conference and has been an articulate advocate for women in agribusiness speaking out this week about the need to engage, support and mentor young women considering careers in the grains sector.

An agronomist, with a Bachelor of Business, Maree has worked in the industry for 20 years, including 18 at Pacific Seeds where she was involved in the technical and commercial aspects of releasing better forage, sorghum and oats varieties.

She is currently Elders technical services manager for the northern region, covering New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Comfortable from the corporate boardroom to cultivation paddocks Maree is committed to providing growers with solutions to increase productivity and profitability. She has also been instrumental in orchestrating practice change in the grains industry by encouraging the adoption of new technology on-farm.

Maree also is a committee member of various organisations including the Australian Sorghum and Sunflower Associations and has been chair of the successful Australian Summer Grains Conference since 2013. This is not the first time she has been recognised for her role as a woman in agriculture; in 2014 she received an inaugural Women in Australian Agribusiness 100 award.

In accepting the GRDC award she said she believed there was no better place to be than in agriculture.

“It feeds the world and it is such a great honour to join a raft of amazing women who go out there every day and make a difference,” Maree said.

Her goal is to continue to be a mentor for women in the grains sector and create an environment where “ability is indifferent to gender”.

Contact Details

For Interviews

Sharon O’Keeffe, GRDC grower services manager - north
0409 279 328


Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications
0418 152 859

GRDC Project Code GCS10971

Region North

GRDC Project code: GCS10971