Know your ‘why’ military veterinarian urges lotfeeders at ALFA SmartBeef 2019

James Nason, 04/10/2019


“When was the last time you took a course on how to tell a good story?” – Diamond V’s Sam Barringer demonstrated the power of good story telling to influence change at the 2019 Australian Lot Feeders Association conference in Dalby, Queensland.


SOME key note speakers have inspirational messages. Some regale you with astonishing stories. Some make you rethink the world around you.

At the ALFA SmartBeef Conference at Dalby on Thursday Colonel Leon ‘Sam’ Barringer did all three.

With a unique career serving as a high ranking airforce officer, a military veterinarian and a technical specialist for US animal health and nutrition company Diamond V, Colonel Barringer used his key note address to reinforce the importance of what food producers do, and to help them to find ways to do what they do “even better”.

Food security equates to national security, he said, a point that is often missed or not understood in public debate.

“If you don’t have food security your society will devolve very quickly,” he said.

“Food security and national security are one single issue.

“A lot of the things that are happening around people making diet choices, are the direct effect of our efficiency.

“If we didn’t do our job well, they would not have a choice. Go to a third world country where food security is not intact – what do people eat in those counties? Anything they can.

“So those upstart groups that are coming up are a function of how well we are doing our job.”

It is hard in a single article to do justice to a 50 minute speech filled with stories such as deworming elephants in Thailand (key point: there’s no manual for that!), why draft horses can seemingly defy the laws of physics (teamwork creates synergy), or treating lions discovered in a Baghdad palace following the fall of the Hussein regime in Iraq (further reinforcing what it means to be ‘conceptualiser’ – they’re rare in the world but agriculture is full of them).

However two key messages in particular warrant emphasising:

Know your why

“If you leave this with nothing else – be able to communicate your why,” Sam urged the audience.

“Why am I feeding cattle, why am I doing this, because if you know your why, then how you do things and what you do makes sense,” he said. “If you don’t know your why, you’re kind of out there flailing.”

He shared this short You Tube video to illustrate the power of ‘knowing your why’ – it’s worth watching if you have a few minutes to spare.

“When you know your why, your what has more impact”

Learn how to tell a story

The ‘backfire effect’ is a cognitive quirk everyone has that rejects facts and data that contradicts our core beliefs. When presented with facts and data, instead of convincing someone to change, it backfires and further entrenches their position.

An example involved a two day seminar delivered by the US military to parents who were reluctant to use vaccines because they believed the vaccines would harm their children.

Graphs and data were used to show vaccines are 100 percent safe.

But rather than change their position, at the end of the two-day seminar even more parents did not want to have their kids vaccinated.

“Data drove them and backfired on them. Yet that is the technique and tactic we use.

“So they re-organised the seminar and they brought the same parents in. At the end of that two day seminar, 50 percent of the people in the room had changed positions.

“What did they do different in the second seminar?

“It is so important to us in the beef industry because we often miss this.

“They told stories, they told real life accounts of things that had happened that appealed to the heart rather than the head.

“We kind of lose that idea, we forget to tell good stories.

“At the end of the day the best persuasive advice at our disposal is the ability to tell a good story.

“When was the last time you took a course on how to tell a good story?”

Tim Gentle and conference MC Jack Wilkinson take the audience on an enlightening digital journey through the process of artifical insemination.

Among the many highlights of day one of the ALFA SmartBeef conference was an engaging dive into the world of immersive technology orchestrated by Think Digital’s Tim Gentle.

He offered several illuminating examples of how 360 degree cameras, virtual reality and augmented reality can be used in agriculture, including educational applications, attracting staff, servicing clients, occupational health and safety training, encouraging collaboration between business, and of course taking the farm to the city to help bridge the gap that exists between city perception and rural reality.

In the past 12 years Melbourne raised Jess Pryles has become a high profile cook, author, TV host and professional ‘Hardcore Carnivore’ in Austin, Texas where she now calls home, and enlightened the audience on the magic of ‘low and slow’ Texas barbecue style cooking.

Jess Pryles

If you haven’t yet heard of “Challenge Led Technology” chances are you will be hearing a lot more about it in future.

It is an approach to research and development and problem solving that involves putting up a prize or incentive to encourage innovators where ever they exist to help solve a problem.

The approach is far from new – for example in the 1920s the Orteig Prize was a reward offered to the first allied aviators to fly non-stop from New York City to Paris or vice versa. Several famous aviators made unsuccessful attempts before American Charles Lindbergh won the prize in 1927 in his aircraft Spirit of

Will Taing from Beanstalk

St. Louis.The $25,000 prize effectively generated a considerable investment in aviation, collectively worth many times the cash prize itself, and helped to create a dramatic technological leap forward.

At SmartBeef on Thursday, Will Taing described how Beanstalk is working to bring challenge led innovation to Australian agriculture, and described in particular how the process was successfully used by Livecorp to find solutions to dehumidify livestock export vessels.

Young Lot Feeder of the Year Ben Emery from Rangers Valley Feedlot.

Award winners recognised on the first day of the 2019 SmartBeef Conference included Ben Emery from Rangers Valley Feedlot who was named the Performance Feeds Young Lot Feeder of the Year; David Duncan from Teys Condamine who won the Zoetis Excellence in Feedlot Education Medal; and MLA’s Des Rinehart, who received an award recognised his Outstanding Services to the Australian Lot Feeding Industry.

Four new councillors for ALFA

The Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) Annual General Meeting has seen the election of four new representatives from the cattle lotfeeding sector to join the ALFA Council for 2019/20:

  • Grant Melrose, Yarranbrook Feedlot, QLD
    Grant is the Quality Assurance Manager at Yarranbrook Feedlot and also holds the position of By-products Sales and Supply Chain Projects for the John Dee processing facility. Grant is a fourth-generation red meat industry stakeholder and is a keen advocate for animal welfare, biosecurity, environment and sustainability through efficiency and continuous improvement strategy.
  • Amanda Moohen, AACo, QLD
    Amanda is currently the Regional Manager, Intensive industries with AACo which includes managing Aronui and Goonoo Feedlot and their associated backgrounding programs. Amanda is an active leader in the feedlot industry, including being the founder of Women of Lot Feeding which was established as part of her participation in the Graeme Acton Mentoring Program.
  • Todd Newton, Myola Feedlot, NSW
    Todd is the Business Manager for the Bindaree Beef Group, an integrated beef supply chain business which includes the Myola Feedlot. A senior executive team member of the Bindaree Group, Todd has leadership accountability across business divisions including, corporate services, asset and risk management, operational human resources and group safety, environment and sustainability.
  • Andrew Rushford, Stanbroke Beef, QLD
  • Andrew Rushford is Stanbroke Beef’s Feedlot Manager which includes responsibility for their backgrounding and crop production assets. Andrew has a long career in the feedlot industry having worked for Ravensworth feedlot, JBS Beef City and Teys Condamine. Over the past 2 years Andrew has been an external representative on ALFA’s Animal Health and Welfare Committee and ALFA’s R&D Committee and therefore comes to Council with a good understanding of ALFA’s operations.

Bryce Camm was re-elected as ALFA President, Barb Madden was re-elected as ALFA Treasurer, and Scott Braund was re-elected for another three-year term as an ALFA Councillor, while Christopher Fenwicke did not stand for re-election.

Bryce Camm speaking at SmartBeef 2019 in Dalby

ALFA reported to members on a very successful year, with major achievements including the great success of BeefEx18 and continued drive on research and development outcomes through the grain-fed levy. ALFA President Bryce Camm noted the success of the association is driven strongly by its membership and the voluntary efforts of the ALFA Council.

“ALFA proudly represents over 75 percent of Australian cattle feedlots, in terms of number of cattle on feed. We strive for excellence, and the services ALFA delivers on behalf of these members include industry representation, research and development, training and technical services and are so highly valued,” Mr Camm said.

“The election of four new representatives to the ALFA Council will help us to continually innovate and improve the organisation and drive further growth and development in the Australian lotfeeding sector.”

ALFA office bearers and councillors for 2019/20:

  • Bryce Camm (President)
  • Barb Madden (Treasurer)
  • Grant Garey (Vice President)
  • Tony Fitzgerald (Vice President)
  • Paul Vogt (Vice President)
  • Tony Batterham (Councillor)
  • Scott Braund (Councillor)
  • Trevor Hinck (Councillor)
  • Stephen Martin (Councillor)
  • Grant Melrose (Councillor)
  • Amanda Moohen (Councillor)
  • Todd Newton (Councillor)
  • Andrew Rushford (Councillor)

“We are at an important point in time for the red meat industry, as we look to the future with the impending release of the Meat Industry Strategic Plan through to 2030 and consider our structure and governance through the Red Meat Industry Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Review,” Mr Camm said.

“ALFA’s direct membership model allows for the active participation of industry operators. We always encourage those members that wish to engage to be involved through our various platforms, and I look forward to working with Council to prosecute a number of issues of importance to our members over the coming twelve months.”


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -