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Awarded for service to Agriculture
Born: 06 June 1969
Entered on roll: 2008
Jane Bennett was born in Devonport and grew up on the family farm in Elizabeth Town with her two sisters and two brothers. Jane attended school in Deloraine and then at Launceston College. In 1986, Jane left school to return to work at her family’s Elizabeth Town farm. Jane studied dairy technology in Victoria for two years, and was the only woman in a class of 18 students. In 1990, Jane left Australia for England, where she worked for two years learning the art of producing farmhouse cheeses.
In 1993, to add value to their farm’s milk production, the Bennett family established Ashgrove Cheese. Using the skills Jane acquired in England, Ashgrove became the only cheese producer in Australia specialising in English country style cheeses. All Ashgrove cheese is produced by hand using traditional recipes and techniques and is made from milk sourced exclusively from the Bennett’s own dairy herds.
The company’s award winning products are known nationally and internationally. Jane’s vision for new and innovative products has seen the development of unique products, most famously wasabi cheese, which was designed specifically for the Japanese market but has also become popular throughout Australia. Ashgrove Farm Cheese has become a major focal point for tourists to the Elizabeth Town area and the State more generally.
In recognition of her efforts in the agriculture industry Jane has been awarded a number of honours including the 1994 Tasmanian Rural Achiever of the Year Award, 1997 Australian Rural Woman of the Year Award and Young Australian of the Year in 1998.
In 1996, at the age of 27, Jane became the first female President of the Tasmanian Rural Industry Training Board, a position that led to her appointment to the Executive Committee of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association. Jane continued to play an active advisory role to community and all levels of government, serving on a large and diverse number of boards and advisory bodies. Jane was appointed to the 2000 and 2002 Australian Government inquiries into the privatisation of Telstra. She has also been a key player in the Tasmania Together Community Leaders group, which had primary responsibility for the development of the Tasmania Together plan. Jane was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001, for service to this group.
Jane became an inaugural member of the Tasmanian Food Industry Council in 1999 and took over the role of Chair of the Council from 2002 until 2007. Jane was also a member of the National Food Industry Council from its formation in 2002 until 2007. She was also a member of the Trade Policy Advisory Council from 2002-2006 and the subsequent larger Trade Advisory Council in 2007.
Recent achievements for Jane have included being awarded a 2007 Nuffield Farming Scholarship and representing Tasmania at the 2008 Australia 2020 Summit in Canberra, as part of the group who discussed the Productivity Agenda (education, skills, training, science and innovation).