Maffra and District Landcare Network (MDLN) chair Ben Gerbert has stepped down from his role and the board to assume the role of acting chief executive at Food and Fibre Gippsland (F&FG).

In May, the board of F&FG announced that Mr Gebert, general manager at F&FG, would become acting chief executive as of July 1, following the departure of former chief executive Nicola Pero.

Ms Pero leaves F&FG after three and a half years as chief executive to work in the private sector.

The F&FG board wished Ms Pero every success in her endeavours and thanked her for her commitment and leadership as she steered F&FG into the significant regional peak body that it has become.

Board chair Barry Rogers believes that Mr Gerbert has the skills and capabilities to grow F&FG further to become a major institution for the development of the Agri sector in Gippsland and a major policy influencer at the state and national level.

“Our aim is for a smooth transition and to continue the organisation’s growth during difficult times that are impacting members and stakeholders in all parts of the food and fibre value chain – from growers to retailers and all in between,” Mr Rogers said.

“The board has carefully considered the options as to who can lead F&FG into the next phase of its development and strongly support the appointment of Ben in this transition period.

“As part of the review process, the board will consider the strategic direction for the organisation over the next six months and consider the best organisational structure that can be put in place to support the industry into the future.”

Mr Gerbert enthusiastically accepted when offered the position.

“I feel distinctly honoured to be commencing the role of acting chief executive following Nicola’s departure, and heartily wish Nicola all the best for her future endeavours,” Mr Gerbert said.

“Since joining F&FG in 2019, I have seen our organisation evolve into one that plays a unique role in representing and supporting many levels of the $7 billion regional food and fibre value chain in the Gippsland region (and beyond).

“Our growth and breadth of representation has been enabled by equal parts visionary leadership; the passion of our team; and having the right people in our corner.

“I look forward to working alongside our passionate, capable team and in collaboration with our many valued stakeholders to ensure F&FG continues to contribute to the prosperity of our industry and communities.”