IT WILL be the young people who drive the ongoing evolution as the beef industry aligns with changing market dynamics and consumer expectations, according to Cattle Council of Australia president Howard Smith.
At the gala dinner to announce the 2019 NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion in Canberra this week, both Mr Smith and CCA chief executive officer Margo Andre said fostering the pipeline of cattle industry leaders was critical to the future success of the future.
Mr Smith said a fundamental part of the industry’s relationship with the broader community was in how everyday Australians valued and understood the contribution cattle producers made to the nation.
“We can never be complacent about our roles as leaders in producer representation in safeguarding and strengthening the trust people have in this industry, starting at the farmgate and flowing through our supply chains,” he said.
“Consumers are increasingly interested in where and how their food comes about.
“Ours is an incredible, positive and compelling story and it is up to us to engage with our customers and share our message.
“The increasing importance of social obligations have presented challenges but in our Rising Champion finalists I see members of a new generation who truly understand the importance of communicating with consumer and communities .
“I see them willing to stand up and be heard and to participate in any conversation rather than let that conservation start in their absence.”
Judging by the calibre of this year’s finalists, there was plenty to be optimistic about, guest speakers Shadow Minister for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon and Minister for Regional Development Dr John McVeigh agreed.
Mr Fitzgibbon said one interesting facade he observed in the Rising Champions was the diversity they had built into their careers.
“No one is doing just one thing - they are running cattle but have also trained as a veterinarian or they are running cattle but also importing,” he said.
“They have hedged.”
Another was their optimism.
“Too often I hear negativity - complaints about the last thing that went wrong, the drought, the politicians and banks being bastards,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“When I speak to younger producers and growers I get a different sense.
“They speak a slightly different language.”
Ag's fundamentals strong: NAB
DESPITE drought and many other challenges, the fundamentals are good for agriculture in Australia, National Australia Bank managing partner in the ACT Sanja Slatter believes.
Speaking at the announcement of the 2019 NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion in Canberra last week, Ms Slatter said free trade agreements, the dollar, flat interest rates and global demand for quality product made for positive times for food and fibre.
“That said, issues, such as ever-increasing energy costs and labour challenges remain important,” she said.
NAB has just announced a drought relief package for NSW and Queensland, as well as a commitment to offer an ability to offset Farm Management Deposits against agricultural lending. This offset will take the form of a discount to the lending rate.
“Likewise, our chief executive officer Andrew Thorburn announced in Wagga Wagga last month, that NAB senior leaders would visit regional towns to hear directly from local people and report back on what is required to support customers in these areas,” Ms Slatter said.
“To help us achieve a strong outcome, we are pleased to have the help of two respected community figures for this initiative – John Anderson, a sixth generation farmer and former Deputy Prime Minister and Chris Sarra who has received international acclaim for his work in pursuing better outcomes for indigenous communities.”
NAB has also recently made some changes to how its teams were led in regional and rural Australia.
“This has resulted in regional and agribusiness teams in distinct geographies with the local managing partner, like myself, empowered to make decisions and to be much closer to our local community,” Ms Slatter explained.
“The change has developed an offering that empowers the one local leader, while maintaining and growing specialised segments such as agribusiness in each of our communities.”
NAB has supported Rising Champions since it’s inception in 2010.
Customer Executive NAB Agribusiness Neil Findlay said the program was a great foundation for young industry leaders.
The story Cattle industry’s next generation standing up to be heard first appeared on Farm Online.