Mick Keogh honoured in 2015 Australia Day awards

Beef Central, 26/01/2015
AFI's Mick Keogh

AFI’s Mick Keogh

Australian Farm Institute executive director Mick Keogh has been honoured with a medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 2015 Australia Day honours list.

The honour recognises Mr Keogh’s service to agriculture and regional development.

Mr Keogh has extensive experience in rural leadership roles and has been a key player in the Australian agricultural policy debate for more than a decade.

He was the driving force in establishing the AFI, an independent policy research institute that conducts research into strategic policy issues of importance to Australian agriculture, in 2003.

Some of his many roles in a distinguished career in agricultural service have included chair of the National Rural Advisory Council since 2012; chair of the Drought Pilot Review Panel in 2011; general manager of policy for the New South Wales Farmers Association from 1992-2003 and a member of the advisory Board for the Institute for the Environment at the University of Western Sydney since 2013.

Mr Keogh was raised on his family farm near Holbrook in southern New South Wales. He is now one of the fourth generation of family members involved in the operation which includes beef, wool and prime lamb, and grains.

He holds both Bachelor and Masters degrees in Wool and Pastoral Sciences from the University of New South Wales and has been employed as a farm manager, a University researcher, an agribusiness consultant and an agricultural lobbyist and policy advisor.

In his time as executive director of the Australian Farm Institute Mr Keogh has been involved in research into a wide range of issues impacting on the agricultural sector both in Australia and internationally, and has authored a large number of papers and reports on these subjects.

He also appears regularly in the media, with regular opinion pieces appearing in Beef Central, and as a speaker at Australian and international agricultural conferences.

In October 2014 Mr Keogh’s contribution to Australia’s food, beverage and agribusiness sectors was recognised with the 2014 Rabobank Agribusiness Leadership Award.

In presenting the award last year, Rabobank Australia chief executive officer Thos Gieskes said Mr Keogh had played a major role in informing policy direction for Australia’s agricultural industries.

“Mick Keogh is an ‘unsung hero’ in Australian agriculture,” Mr Gieskes said. “He has made an outstanding contribution to the food, beverage and agribusiness sectors through his extensive and long-standing work in agricultural policy over a number of decades.

“While Mick has not himself been directly responsible for the P&L of an individual agribusiness, his work at the forefront of strategic research into public policy issues which impact Australian agriculture and in representing the interests of Australian farmers, has undoubtedly had a far-reaching impact on the prosperity of the sector as a whole.”

The peer-nominated Leadership Award is presented to individuals who create sustainable growth and prosperity at both a corporate and industry level in agribusiness, while demonstrating a wider commitment to society.

Mr Keogh said after receiving the award that his biggest achievement to date was founding the AFI.

“As a concept, the Australian Farm Institute was completely new,” he said. “It came at a time where there was significant change taking place in agricultural policy and very few dedicated resources existed to really look at the implications of policy and what it means for Australian agriculture and agribusiness companies.”

Mr Keogh said the Institute provided an ideal vehicle to look at policies coming down the pipeline and delve into the implications for industry.

“I think I have always had a fascination with the processes involved in growing, transforming and marketing agricultural products, which make running an agricultural business so incredibly complex. When you add to that the extra layer of complexity arising from policy decisions, agriculture really is an incredibly challenging, but also very rewarding sector to be involved in,” he said.

Agricultural identities included in this year’s 2015 Australia Day honours list include:

  • Chairman and president of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, Stephen Charles Spargo from Red Hill, who was named as a member in the general division of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the community through a range of executive roles with business, agricultural, sporting and health organisations.
  • The first coordinator of the New South Wales Rural Women’s Network and founder of “The Country Web” newsletter Margaret Susan Carroll, who received a medal of the order of Australia (OAM) for her service to rural and regional communities in New South Wales, and to women.
  • Past president and long-serving member of the Country Women’s Association of Western Australia from 2006-2009 Pamela Joan Batten who received an OAM for her service to the community, particularly through the Country Women’s Association of WA.
  • Former Orange, NSW, agriculture teacher Kerry Elizabeth Pinnell, who founded an agricultural partnership program between Canobolas High in Orange and the Moleanna Agricultural High School in East Timor in 2004, has received an Order of Australia Medal for her services to agricultural education and equestrian sports.


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