Veterinarian and dairy farmer, Lucy Collins, has been awarded a Nuffield Scholarship supported by the Gardiner Dairy Foundation.
Her award was one of three announced for the Nuffield Australia Farming Scholarships for 2021.
The other two were Georgia Beattie, Diggers Rest, and Michael Densham, Main Ridge.
Ms Collins' research would investigate the value of dairy welfare benchmarking and opportunities for marketing Australian dairy products with an ethical advantage.
In addition to working alongside her partner Matthew on the family's 650 cow dairy farm, Ms Collins is a dairy veterinarian with ApiamAnimal Healthand,and is part of the leadership team at Kyabram Veterinary Clinic.
She is also currently completing a Mastersin Veterinary Science (Dairy), with a focus on public perceptions and welfare enhancement in the Australian dairy industry.
Lucy's research will explore overseas dairy welfare auditing programs and the potential for diversification of Australian dairy products into the ethical or high welfare space.
"Animal welfare forms a huge part of the debate around our industry's social sustainability," she said.
"Through my Nuffield Scholarship, I plan to investigate international models for welfare assessment and benchmarking that could be applicable in an Australian context.
"To ensure future profitability and viability, our industry needs to be both proactive and progressive in this space."
Ms Collins said it was imperative the industry continue to strive towards more ethical practices that would foster and maintain confidence among Australian consumers and overseas markets.
"I look forward to exploring existing strategies and emerging trends that successfully align the priorities of both farmers and the public while maintaining trust and transparency for all," she said.
Ms Collins will investigate and assess global welfare practices and assurance schemes across the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States and Canada during her Nuffield Scholarship.
Chair of Nuffield's Victoria State Committee, and 2012 Nuffield Scholar, Ashley Fraser said the selection of this year's scholars demonstrated the forward-thinking nature of the Victorian agriculture.
"With evolving consumer demands, market challenges and supply chain issues due to COVID-19, it's great to see study topics focused on adaptability and sustainability.
"In particular, investigating how to continually improve land and livestock management to minimise waste and maximise animal welfare," Mr Fraser said.
"This year's Scholars will research a range of topics, covering the use of spent mushroom compost (SMC) for soil regeneration, how intensive production systems can drive increased productivity on small-scale farming operations, and the value of dairy welfare benchmarking and opportunities for growth.
"With the generous support of their investors, these three Scholars will be given a platform to lead a wave of change and embark on a life-changing opportunity to take their ideas to the next level.
"We congratulate our Victorian Scholars for 2021 and look forward to hearing about both the successes and challenges they experience throughout their Nuffield journey."