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Pushing boundaries, breaking records (10 August 2018)

The boundaries were definitely pushed at this year’s Australian Cotton Conference, with 2460 people making their way to the Gold Coast to attend the premier industry event.

This year was the biggest in terms of attendance and for new faces, with a large contingent from the southern regions attending for the first time to hear the huge line-up of 150 speakers offer valuable insights and research.

Exhibitor numbers too are on the rise, with a record 110 businesses or services showcasing their products. There were record numbers for several sessions within the conference, including a dryland farming session, Pitch from the Paddock, climate and social events such as the Next Gen breakfast with National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson. A new-look fashion parade featured well-known local designers, who worked with the ‘denim’ theme to promote the use of cotton with support from Australian Cotton Shippers Association, who supplied the fabric.

Each conference a charity is chosen to support, and this year just over $50,000 was raised for OzHarvest to provide meals for those in need in Australia.

CRDC is a founding major sponsor of the conference and in a new initiative this year supported the creation of ‘Startup Alley’ to showcase innovation and give young entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their ideas, showcase the industry’s investments in startups, and the emerging technologies that are being developed specifically for cotton and agriculture.

The conference speaker line-up always kicks off with inspirational and thought-provoking speakers. The incredible line-up kicked off with mind-blowing thinking from acclaimed international futurist Thomas Frey from the US, and the inspiring and heart-wrenching story of Australian UN Peacekeeper Matina Jewell and her experiences of leadership in one of the most volatile places on the planet in Lebanon.

To end a big three days, ANZ Banking Services Business Domain Lead Nigel Dobson spoke about Emerging technologies and cotton, followed by Rachael Robertson, who led the Australian expedition to Davis Station, Antarctica – the second female to lead a team at the station and the youngest ever leader.

To send everyone off, attendees were treated to ‘An irreverent overview of the Australian cotton industry’ from Clancy Overell and Errol Parker of The Betoota Advocate who kept the crowd well amused.

Amazingly, a conference of this size and calibre is run by a volunteer group, along with Conference Secretariat Tracey Byrne-Morrison.

“Thank you to our amazing volunteer organising committee who worked tirelessly to deliver a jam-packed program,” committee chair Fleur Anderson said.

“A lot of time, planning and thinking goes into delivering on this event, and we have been thrilled with the feedback from delegates.

“Thanks to our sponsors, whose support allowed us to keep registration costs to a minimum, and a huge thanks to Tracey, who burned the candle at both ends to make it all happen again this year.”