Cameron Wilson, livestock sales manager for Elders North East Division has recently returned from Argentina. So now you're waiting to hear about the huge cattle herd, the pastures and the potential growth and popularity of the red meat product in this fascinating country. Wrong.
Cameron and his wife Mandy accompanied their youngest son, Harry, to Argentina where Harry represented his country in the Australian Under 20s rugby union team that went down to France in the final of the U20 Rugby World Cup.
Cameron and Mandy are like thousands of rural and regional parents in towns across the country who give so much to their local sporting clubs and give their kids the best opportunity to succeed in their chosen sport, in this case, rugby.
Cameron coached his three boys, Sam, Will and young Harry in their early years at the Gunnedah Red Devils where Cameron was also the club president, and Mandy, not wanting to be left out was the club's treasurer and also spent time, as most mums do, on canteen duty.
Each weekend there was somewhere to go for rugby - Moree, Inverell, Narrabri, Barraba, Walcha, Quirindi and Tamworth. Like most rural parents they juggled their farm and work responsibilities and family time to accommodate the boys' rugby playing passion.
The family moved to Brisbane a number of years ago with Cameron's promotion at Elders, providing the boys with the best opportunity to test their skills against some of the best young players by attending one of Brisbane's leading GPS schools, rugby mad Gregory Terrace. During Harry's Terrace years, he represented Queensland Schoolboys for two years and Australian schoolboys in his final year.
Not every kid will represent their country but to me the important take is that thousands of parents, week in and week out, in rural and regional areas give their kids the opportunity to succeed with what they want to do.
On Argentina, the majority of cattle are Red Angus and finished on grass and no grading system. According to Cameron, "the beef is great and prices are quite reasonable - Qld pub prices in the best restaurants, beer is cheap and tequila inspired refreshments are quite effective".
Mate, that is not enough to qualify the trip as a rural study tour.
Live export continues to underpin northern markets. Prices have been sustained through the winter months and demand is strong as shipments continue with regularity through northern ports. Export capacity has improved through both Rockhampton and Townsville and producers have more cattle suitable for exporters than processors with lighter weights offering more availability. Steers are attracting up to 300c/kg live and heifer equivalents to 270c/kg live. By the same token, processors are not struggling for supply as numbers continue to come forward in an orderly manner.
MLA's Fit to Load guide has been updated recently and has been released for all participants in the red meat industry. The guide details the responsibilities for 'the person in charge' when preparing, transporting and delivering cattle, sheep and goats for travel. The guide has been endorsed by all peak industry councils.
"The Australian red meat industry is totally committed to best animal welfare practices and ensuring animals are cared for," general manager for producer consultation and adoption Michael Crowley said.
"If 'the person in charge' prepares to transport or transports an animal that is unfit, that person commits an act of cruelty upon that animal and may be liable for prosecution under state or territory legislation. As such it is also unacceptable for any party to coerce or intimidate the person in charge into loading an animal that is not fit for the journey."
Serious stuff - take time and go online.
Bon Voyage! This is my last column for six weeks. As you read this this I am on my way to Russia and Ireland and a few other places in between. My predecessor, Queensland's oldest teenager, Stanley Wallace, was able to provide a column when he was travelling as a tour leader - I know as I contributed once or twice. However, I may have connectivity issues from time to time. Trusting when I return the season has improved with beneficial rain for all and markets are on the rise.
- Brendan Wade: 0439 663 060, firstname.lastname@example.org