Board members

The RAA Advisory Board consists of the Chief Executive and six part-time members who are appointed by the Minister for Primary Industries. In accordance with the Rural Assistance Act 1989, two of the part-time members are appointed to represent farmers; two have specific qualifications and experience in banking or finance, farm management or an associated area; and two have backgrounds in social welfare, rural counselling, conservation or other areas the Minister considers necessary to enable the Board to carry out its functions.

The Chair of the Advisory Board, and the five other members, are all independent from the NSW Government and are appointed following an externally advertised application process. A Declaration of Interests register is maintained, and at each meeting, Board members must disclose any conflicts of interest in relation to their role or the matters under discussion in the Board meeting.

The term of office for appointed members is for a period not exceeding three years with members eligible for re-appointment for a further three year term.

Darren Budworth, RAA CEO 

Darren Budworth
RAA Chief Executive Officer

Darren is the CEO of the NSW RAA and serves as an Executive Director on the RAA Advisory Board.

Darren has over 10 years’ experience in senior executive roles in Australia’s largest rural research and development provider, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), working across agriculture, biosecurity, food safety, fisheries, policy and cabinet, business performance, industry and economic policy analysis and finance.

Darren’s experience combined with his diverse technical skills, lends itself to a unique perspective in developing and delivering targeted policy and programs that maximise outcomes for rural communities.

Appointed – October 2022

Contact email:

Andrew Rice, RAA Advisory Board Chair

Andrew Rice, BRurSc
RAA Advisory Board Chair

Andrew has a number of off-farm and on-farm roles and has a practical understanding of farm business management, finance and business performance analysis and management.

Andrew is currently the sole Director of Agricultural & Management Services at ASPIRE agri in Parkes, and is an active partner and manager in a mixed farming business at Cookamidgera, NSW, east of Parkes.

Andrew is a non-executive director and chairperson of the not-for-profit company Field Applied Research Australia Pty Ltd, and non-executive director of the Central West Local Land Services.

Appointed – 13 September 2021 (Chair)
Term End – 31 December 2023

Joanna Balcomb, RAA Advisory Board Member

Joanna Balcomb, GAICD, FCA, BBus (Accounting)
RAA Advisory Board Member

Jo has extensive skills and experience in risk management, regulatory compliance, governance and financial reporting, and accounting.

Jo is currently Chief Risk Officer for First Choice Credit Union in Orange and runs a mixed farming enterprise at Cudal, NSW.

Jo has been a member of the RAA Independent Appeal Panel, dealing with matters arising from the Black Summer Bushfires and, more recently, catastrophic storm and floods events.

Appointed – 13 September 2021
Term End – 31 December 2023

Charlie Blomfield, RAA Advisory Board Chair

Charlie Blomfield, B.AgrSc
RAA Advisory Board Member

Charlie founded Agricultural Management Company in 2007 and over 10 years, grew AMC into a professional agribusiness management firm with 26 properties under management across northern and eastern Australia.

Charlie worked with sovereign wealth funds, private families, private equity investors and indigenous organisations to acquire, develop and manage successful businesses. During this time, Charlie co-founded CommStream Capital, an alternative farm finance provider and shifted his focus to investing in more direct on-farm production.

In 2017, Charlie and wife Eleanor Falkiner, moved to the Falkiner family property Haddon Rig at Warren where Charlie joined the management team as General Manager. Whilst still being involved with Haddon Rig, Mr Blomfield and family moved to Canowindra on a mixed farming property purchased in 2019.

Appointed – 1 July 2020  
Term End – 31 December 2023

Louise Clarke, RAA Advisory Board Member

Louise Clarke, BBus
RAA Advisory Board Member

Louise is an Executive Leadership Coach with over 35 years of senior executive experience in banking and finance, social services and leadership roles.

Louise is a graduate and member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, is the current chair of Centacare New England North West and is a non-executive director and risk and governance committee member for PN Bank and a non-executive director of Hastings Co Op.

In addition, Louise is a board member of Yarrowitch Hall and Trustees and a member of the Yarrowitch Community Group and the Walcha Tourism committee.

Louise is a grazier in the Walcha district in the New England Tableland, running a property using regen principles.

Appointed – 1 January 2023
Term end – 31 December 2025

Elizabeth Lyne, RAA Advisory Board Member

Elizabeth Lyne, BBus CPA GAICD
RAA Advisory Board Member

Elizabeth is a partner with her husband in a mixed farming enterprise situated at Cootamundra, NSW.

Professionally, Elizabeth is a qualified accountant with over 20 years experience in both public practise and commercial accounting. During this time she has provided taxation, business advisory and audit services to clients in the agricultural sector and also held senior finance roles in the meat processing industry.

Elizabeth is currently a sitting member of the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal and conducts hearings throughout regional NSW. Elizabeth has extensive board experience in the government and not-for-profit sectors and is currently a board trustee of the NSW Responsible Gambling Fund and a board director of the NSW Crown Holiday Parks Land Manager.

Appointed – 1 July 2020  
Term End – 31 December 2023

Derek Schoen, RAA Advisory Board Member

Derek Schoen, MAICD
RAA Advisory Board Member

After finishing the HSC Derek started an apprenticeship as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer with TAA, graduating as a Licenced Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. He returned to the family's mixed farming business in 1983 to run beef cattle, prime lambs, winter cropping and irrigated summer crops at Corowa in the southern Riverina.

Derek has been a councillor on the Corowa Shire Council and was deputy Mayor. Board experience started with a local farmers co-op and later NSW Farmers Association serving as President for 3 years. Other board membership have included the Cattle Council of Australia, National Farmers Federation and he is currently on the board of Agstewardship and Beyond Blue.

Derek is passionate about sustainable agriculture, planning and building resilience into farm businesses and a strong advocate of early succession planning.

Appointed – 1 February 2020
Term end – 31 December 2025