A significant portion of our Fonterra community live and work in rural areas across Victoria and Tasmania, with our farmers being the backbone of the regional towns and districts they farm.
Within these rural communities are inspiring women who are supporting, educating and empowering others, including Fonterra’s Farm Source Area Manager Jess Brown.
Jess Brown is based in Warrnambool in southwest Victoria, working with the Farm Source team to help farmers improve their business through continuous improvement.
She’s a rural woman with agriculture close to her heart, growing up on a sheep and cropping farm near the small town of Moorilim in northern Victoria, and now calls Warrnambool home. A graduate role at Rural Finance would eventually open the door for a career in agribusiness relationship management, and she hasn’t looked back since.
She’s now an integral part of Fonterra’s Farm Source team, holding relationships with farmers in the communities around Colac, across to Cobden and Warrnambool, and further into the western corner of the state.
On the International Day of Rural Women, Jess shares more about her passion for dairy, her drive to see others succeed, and the importance of the network of women in her life.
“One of the favourite aspects of my role at Fonterra is the daily interactions with farmers. They’re the best type of people to deal with. I go from discussing numbers and benchmarking in the morning, to chatting about grass, production and cows in the afternoon,” said Jess.
“Of course, there’s banter in between. Farmers love a good yarn,” she added.
Jess is currently expanding her knowledge and learning the ropes of the People Specialist role in the Farm Source team – a key role in the delivery of Fonterra’s Farm Source Professional service model that focuses on helping farmers improve their business through continuous improvement.
“The Farm Source Professional model is one of a kind. From the inside, we get to help and see the changes people make on and off farm to achieve their goals.”
“Importantly, it’s not just based on numbers, profit or improving farm operations, it’s about lifestyle too.”
“I get to support farmers to make changes that will allow them to spend more time with family or get away for a few days. While farming is a business, it’s also a lifestyle. It’s rewarding to see people achieve the balance they need, farm the way they want to, and be profitable at the same time.”
Jess has a strong passion and commitment to making a difference in the agricultural sector, and one of her proudest achievements has been her role in the organising committee for Cream of the Crop, a conference and networking event for women in dairy.
“We held a two-day event earlier in 2023 after a successful event the previous year, and the feedback we received was wonderful.”
“It’s an inspiring network of rural women who all just want to learn and connect with like-minded people, and I’m really proud of my role in helping to get it off the ground.”
Jess has a strong network of women in her life who provide her with support and many laughs along the way.
“I have an amazing group of friends who work across all different industries, including agriculture. They’re so supportive and fun – I couldn’t live without them!”
“We get together as much as we can, but sometimes we can go months without seeing each other. The best part is that it doesn’t matter if it's been a day or a month, it always feels the same.”
Jess’s story demonstrates the commitment she holds in support of our farmers, her team and the rural communities she works in and calls home.
The United Nations International Day of Rural Women acknowledges and celebrates the invaluable contribution of rural women to agricultural development. It’s celebrated annually on 15 October, and today we celebrate the women in our Fonterra family – our people, our farmers, and the women in the communities we operate.