Pres­i­dent aims to im­prove ag im­age

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - GEORDI OFFORD [email protected]­ral­weekly.com.au

IN HIS first week on the job as pres­i­dent of the AgForce Queens­land cat­tle board, Will Wil­son has pushed the con­tro­ver­sial topic of preg-test­ing.

The stock­man is urg­ing pro­duc­ers to have their say by fill­ing out a reg­u­la­tory im­pact state­ment on non-pro­fes­sion­als to be able to preg­nancy test and do ovar­ian scan­ning on live­stock.

The sub­ject has been de­bated on both sides of the fence, with vets con­cerned cases of an­i­mal mis­treat­ment could arise as well as other biose­cu­rity risks.

How­ever, Mr Wil­son said they want to give the state’s gra­ziers more op­tions.

“We need to be do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to lift fer­til­ity,” he said. “For too long Queens­land pro­duc­ers have been at a dis­ad­van­tage to the rest of Australia where lay preg­nancy testers are legally op­er­at­ing and have been for years.

“This is not about tak­ing away busi­ness from vets or re­duc­ing stan­dards.

“We will need peo­ple like vets to train the preg-testers; there is no ev­i­dence to sug­gest this has re­duced their busi­ness.”

Work­ing along­side the me­dia to por­tray agri­cul­ture in a bet­ter light is an­other job high on his list.

“Now is the time for us to get united and one of my big goals is to work out ways we can work with other in­dus­try groups, so we can show the gov­ern­ment we have the sup­port of the peo­ple and of the peo­ple who aren’t on the boat,” he said.

“We can’t be seen as splin­tered, re­gard­less if we carry a dif­fer­ent flag.” The fourth-gen­er­a­tion pro­ducer runs the Cal­liope Cat­tle Com­pany along­side his wife Katie and their four chil­dren – Bella, Archie, Rob­bie and An­gus. Their four prop­er­ties have a to­tal land area of 48,562 hectares, where they run jar­rah reds and here­fords.

The for­mer vice-pres­i­dent of the board is also keen to work on ag-tech. Mr Wil­son has ex­pe­ri­ence in the field of tech­nol­ogy him­self. In 2012, he founded MANDRA, an IT com­pany which spe­cialises in dig­i­tal­is­ing and stream­lin­ing a col­lec­tion of in­for­ma­tion about live­stock, at both ends of the sup­ply chain.

Mr Wil­son de­vel­oped an app called iHerd, a mo­bil­ity-based sys­tem which en­ables pro­duc­ers to man­age live­stock in real time and cap­ture data.

“I’m al­ways in­ter­ested in ways we can make the in­dus­try more sus­tain­able and to paint a bet­ter pic­ture for the pub­lic in gen­eral,” he said.

“I wanted to try and find lines of sim­i­lar in­ter­ests in the in­dus­try, so we could present prod­uct in an even and for­mat­ted fash­ion to con­sumers.

“I was early to the space, we had a lot of cat­tle un­der man­age­ment around the world in a lot of up-take in places like the USA, but be­cause of in­dus­try sys­tems it was hard to pave a way for ag-tech.

“That’s what led me into get­ting in­volved with the in­dus­try, be­cause I could see the need to present our prod­uct bet­ter in the mar­ket.”

With a strong will to push agri­cul­ture for­ward, Mr Wil­son said he’s ex­cited to do it along­side the new board.

“They’re a tremen­dous group of driven peo­ple who come all the way from up the gulf to the south-west,” he said. To have your say on layper­sons preg-test­ing visit www.daf.qld.gov.au be­fore De­cem­ber 14.

PHOTO: FILE

POS­I­TIVE FU­TURE: Cat­tle­man Will Wil­son is touch­ing on big top­ics as the new pres­i­dent of the AgForce Queens­land cat­tle board.

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