Overnight, the South Australian government introduced increased community restrictions because of 2 new COVID-19 cases in the State. At about 7.00pm (NZT), I received a call from the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) advising me that Friday’s AdvanceAg conference had been postponed.

From a personal perspective, I have to admit – the news sucked.

I’ve been looking forward to catching up with South Australia’s agritech community for some time. Back in October 2020, the South Australian AgTech Advisory Group published the South Australian AgTech Strategic Plan, on behalf of the South Australian government. We were due to meet for breakfast on Thursday. On Wednesday evening, I had been invited to speak at an Adelaide AgTech Meetup meeting, whilst on Thursday, Elders, Australia’s largest rural services group, had invited a number of guests to a 2-hour presentation and Q&A session at their Adelaide HQ.

Like Friday’s AdvanceAg conference, all postponed until a later date.

My immediate thoughts are with those effected by both the pandemic and the impact of border closures, lockdowns and community restrictions. Last night’s call however also reinforced in my mind the importance and need to strengthen the framework for increased trans-Tasman collaboration in the AgriFoodTech space. The major global challenges that I had planned to focus on at Friday’s conference; food security, climate and the planning for a future agricultural workforce, have not gone away. These challenges will continue to grow and the time to tackle them is now, not at some unknown ‘later date’.

Despite last night’s news, I am already looking ahead to my next trip across the ditch. As an unpaid banker to Qantas and Air New Zealand, I now have enough airpoint credits to get me from Tauranga to Perth and back. Twice. So no excuse. Strengthening the trans-Tasman framework is a key priority and I look forward to working with partners and friends on both sides of the Tasman to make it happen.