Ideas for future of industry
High-level agriculture forum
THE future of agriculture was at the forefront of everyone’s minds last Thursday as producers, graziers and special guests met in Roma for the Future of Ag forum.
A wide range of guest speakers provided some fresh thinking on driving investment in Australian agriculture, including an in-depth look into the sheep and beef market and how Queensland could focus on rebuilding and driving these commodities in the future.
Super Butcher managing director Susan McDonald is an advocate for building a bridge between consumers and producers and how the world of meat has plenty more to offer.
“I grew up in Cloncurry and did School of the Air before going away to boarding school and university,” Ms McDonald said.
“I worked as an accountant for two years but, during that time, my brother died so I decided to come back to the family business and started running the Super Butcher business.
“We are living in a world where people become more and more urbanised and there is less understanding of how food is grown.”
Ms McDonald said her main driving force for the forum was to discuss how the meat industry could become the industry of possibilities again.
“As an industry we are doing all of this great work where were are managing animal welfares, we are doing management and now the next frontier is getting into government and being the strong voice for reality,” she said.
Not only does Ms McDonald want to drive her focus on building the gap between paddock to plate but she wants to add more to the story behind each cut of meat with her business.
“We are seeing a great resurgence of interest from people who want to buy meat that is fit for purpose and is interesting,” she said.
Victorian sheep and cattle producer Jason Trompf highlighted how the rise of the sheep industry was slowly making its way back into Queensland.
“The sheep industry used to be so strong and the backbone to communities and I reckon there is still hope,” Mr Trompf said.
“In the big picture one thing that is extremely exciting is that the sheep industry has grown from what was a $3 billion industry to now an $8 billion industry and we are doing that with about 70 million less sheep.
“We have more than doubled the gross value of production from the sheep industry with major flock reduction.”
Mr Trompf said, in Queensland’s context, the use of exclusion fencing was starting to reap benefits for farmers, with data showing an increase of reproduction rates from low 60s per annum to high 70s.
“The national average marking rate is about 90, so this is the lowest state, but there are lots of factors that contribute to that and we are here today to talk to farmers about what they can do in that area,” he said.
“As an industry we just want to support farmers up here to do the very best they can with the resources they have.
“What sets the best sheep farmer apart from the rest is resource allocation.”
National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson said agriculture in Australia was going to go from strength to strength, especially in regards to exportation.
70 per cent of what we produce and our products are really sought-after around the world,” Ms Simson said.
“For me, it is how do we grow a strong sustainable agricultural sector and catch farm value at the gate so we can achieve $100 billion value by 2030.”
MEETING OF MINDS: AgForce regional manager Sharon Purcell, AgForce president Grant Maudsley, Australian Country Choice’s Jason Trompf and Super Butcher managing director Susan McDonald at the Future of Ag forum.