Celebrating the Leadership of Women in Agriculture

As the demand for higher-welfare products continues to grow, the role of certification in this space has become crucial to ensuring better living conditions for farmed animals. In the RSPCA Approved Certification Body, Senior Certification Coordinator Nikki plays an essential role in championing better animal welfare and responsible farming practices, through ensuring the certification processes and policies are consistently met, as well as building and maintaining relationships with producers in the program.  

While farming sectors have traditionally been dominated by men, Nikki is not only a key part of a team that ensures conformance to the RSPCA Approved standards, but serves as evidence that women can and do thrive in this industry.  

With a keen interest in dairy cattle, Nikki began her journey in the field of agriculture after secondary school, embarking on a Bachelor of Animal Science. It was in her third year of university that Nikki fell in love with the personality and charisma of pigs, leading her to complete her Honours in Pig Reproduction.  

“Women in Australian agriculture are more visible now than ever before, including in the pork and poultry industry, which is great to see.” 

A piglet close to camera

Nikki went on to work on a meat chicken farm in country South Australia, as a farm hand. Applying first-hand what she learned at university, this role immersed her in the realities of farming and production systems. Nikki says she especially enjoyed being able to work closely with the animals. 

“Working one-on-one with the pigs allowed me to experience their quirks and characteristics. Each pig has their own individual personality.” 

At this stage, with such in-depth, hands-on experience under her belt, NIkki was deeply interested in farm animal welfare and was hoping to find a new challenge that allowed her skills and experience to have greater reach with a positive impact. So the decision to move across the country to join the Certification Body in the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme was the opportunity she had been looking for. As the Senior Certification Coordinator, Nikki oversees a team who work to improve farm animal welfare on a daily basis. 

“I find it so rewarding to see my team learn, grow and thrive. Having a small team allows each member to take ownership of their role, situations and challenges.” 

Two young meat chickens pecking at grain

To ensure conformance, the Certification Body regularly assesses producers to make sure all requirements of the standards are being met. The Certification Body operates independently and impartially from RSPCA Australia to ensure decisions are unbiased when reviewing assessments, and that animal welfare is always at the forefront of their work. As the RSPCA Approved certification is an ongoing commitment, the Certification Team schedule regular assessments with producers, undertaken by specially trained RSPCA Assessors to make sure producers are continuing to meet the requirements. A report is compiled by the Assessor which then goes through a thorough review and evaluation process by the Certification Team to provide certification or resolve any issues prior to certification being granted. This requires an in-depth understanding of the workflow, operational procedures, and evaluation of reports to ensure consistency, something Nikki has successfully refined after five years in the team.  

Nikki still enjoys the challenges and successes of the role, including knowing her work with RSPCA Approved is making real, tangible differences for Australia’s farmed animals.  

It’s the dedication of people like Nikki that is paving the way for a future of higher-welfare farming, while showing that women can follow career paths in agriculture that take them from on farm to fostering change within the industry.  

Interested in reading more? 
What’s Important for a Good Certification? 
Farming to the RSPCA’s standards 
RSPCA Assessors Bringing a Wealth of Experience 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *