AN aim to improve the relationship and awareness with beef customers is just one of the driving forces behind 2015 Nuffield Scholar Fred Appleton’s study plans.
Fred secured the Rabobank-sponsored scholarship to look at supply chain and marketing, with a particular focus on organic beef production alongside animal husbandry practices overseas.
He expanded his area of study to include organic practices from an original view to focus on dehorning and castration.
His scholarship includes two weeks in France at the end of February and into March for the Nuffield Contemporary Scholars Conference.
During the study component Fred will spend about six weeks in June and July visiting farming operations in Singapore, the Philippines, China, the United States and Ireland.
A group of about six or seven other scholars will travel with him and also meet with trade and agricultural ministers, plus other agricultural representatives from the various countries.
“I will then have my individual study, which will be about eight weeks, and this is still very much in the planning stages, as I continue research into different areas,” Fred said.
“Uruguay will be on the agenda, in relation to their organic beef production. I’m also very keen to visit Brazil and Argentina, as they are some of the biggest beef producers in the world.”
It will be the on-the-ground conversations that may prove the most valuable in Fred’s study endeavours, particularly when delving into the world of beef processing.
“I’d like to spend some time talking to and learning from the whole supply chain, from cattle producers and vets through to consumers,” Fred said.
While having healthy animals is of utmost importance to Fred, he said it was also important that cattle production be financially viable.
Another element on his radar will be something of a “red tape comparison”, looking at industry regulation in foreign operations.
“What does concern me is the financial implications for Australian cattle producers if we were to be subjected to unnecessarily strict regulations,” he said.
“I’d like to see a balance struck which sees good animal welfare that is both appropriate for Australian conditions and economically achievable.”
This will cover his investigations into the organic field as well, giving him the opportunity to share notes with organic producers in regards to standards and accreditation.
Fred is well placed to gather information from the international beef community.
The Alpha grazier manages the day-to-day operations of two of his family’s central Queensland properties, and oversees managers on four additional properties.
Working under the Appleton Pastoral Company, Fred lives at Islay Plains with wife Anna.
The cattle operation is jointly run with his parents, Dale and Kris Appleton, and Fred’s brother Loid and wife Zabby.
Collectively, the 180,000 hectare enterprise consists of 45,000 cattle including 14,500 breeding cows with a breed make-up of about 60 per cent Brahman, 30pc Droughtmaster and the remaining a mix of Santa and Charbray.
Steers are mainly fattened and sold to meatworks, with the remainder sold into the feeder market.
Fred handles all marketing and financial aspects of the business, with Anna running the office and accounts.
Like many in the central regional, it’s been a hard slog through dry conditions in recent times.
“The last couple of years have been tough, but we’ve had a great start to the season here, and across all our properties,” he said.
Fred said he was looking forward to the entire study trip and gathering highlights from each country.
His final report is due to be filed in March 2016.