WHEN Kerri Gallagher was 17 she decided on a goal – become president of the agriculture society before turning 30.
Five days shy of hitting that milestone, Ms Gallagher achieved her dream. The fifth-generation dairy farmer and mum of a toddler is determined to the turn the fortunes of the Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society around. She first became involved with the society at 14, showing dairy cattle.
“I was invited to join the cattle committee when I was 17, and from then on my involvement has increased,” Ms Gallagher said.
Ms Gallagher runs a mid-sized 220-head milking herd at Bald Hills, just out of Ballarat. Her reign as president comes at the dairy industry experiences dramatic changes and turbulence.
“(We) are facing a reduced income. Already last year prices were $5.60 and they are down to $4.80,” Ms Gallagher said. “We were lucky, we are with Warrnambool Cheese and Butter and they held our 2015/2016 price this year, but it will affect us.”
Ms Gallagher said the crisis would have a long-term impact on the 27 dairy farmers in Ballarat and the broader community.
Ms Gallagher has implemented change within the agricultural society since she was a teenager. She established a youth program and now more than 20 young people are involved. Nine years ago only three people under 40 were involved.
“My passion stems from loving showing cattle. I love working with people and have made so many friends.
“I love what the show does and how it bridges that gap between city and country people. It is so important and I love to be able to build that bridge.”
Ms Gallagher will face many challenges as leader – including the lack of certainty of the showgrounds future location and shedding fat from the society’s budget.
“I want to focus on increasing membership and to build stronger partnerships with our community. Overall I think we are in a very positive position.”
Director Gerard Ballinger congratulated Ms Gallagher on her appointment which he said highlighted the society’s exciting future.
A busy mum of toddler Olivia, Ms Gallagher is sharing her passion of farming with her daughter. “She just loves it,” Ms Gallagher said. If she doesn’t watch out her daughter might break her mum’s record and become the youngest president in a few years.
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