Aussie meat judging team reserve champions in US competition

Beef Central, 31/01/2020


THE Australian National Meat Judging team has won a swag of awards at the American National Western Stock Show competition in Denver, Colorado.

The competition was the culmination of a month-long tour through the US where the team has been learning about operations within one the world’s largest meat industries.

The Australian team took top honours for the beef grading and overall beef sections, and was awarded runners up in the overall competition, finishing just three points behind Texas A&M Commerce University.

Australian National Meat Judging team coach and ICMJ committee member Nick van den Berg said he was proud of the group.

“It’s an amazing achievement to even compete here let alone to win and place in so many sections as well as second place overall,” he said.

The tour is an annual event coordinated by the Intercollegiate Meat Judging Association of Australia and is sponsored by Meat and Livestock and the Australian Meat Processors Corporation.

The aim of ICMJ is to raise awareness of the many and varied careers in the meat industry and support students in developing their skills to pursue these jobs.

ICMJ president Peter McGilchrist said the tour had opened the student’s eyes to where the Australian meat industry sits in a global context.

“This tour has given the students insight into the US meat supply chain, one of Australia’s largest red meat markets, and the opportunity to compete in meat judging on a global level,” he said.

In its 30-year history, the ICMJ Association had offered this opportunity to more than 150 students and coaches, and the 2020 event had proven exactly why this was done.

“These students are coming home excited, energised and ready to bring their passion to the industry at home here in Australia,” Dr McGilchrist said.

“By giving these students this chance, we are making an investment in the future of the Australian meat industries that will pay dividends in years and decades to come.”

This year’s Australian ICMJ team included

  • Claire Marriott – University of New England graduate, 2020 AA Co graduate program participant, based in Queensland
  • Hamish Fuller – University of Sydney graduate, Westpac assistant relationship manager in Dubbo, NSW
  • Kieran Smith – University of New England graduate, Extension officer with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Richmond, QLD.
  • Margo Sullivan – currently studying Business (Agriculture) at Marcus Oldham College
  • Pricilla Evans – University of Sydney graduate, currently working on starting her own business in the area of agricultural education and marketing.

Before they competed, students were shown through multiple US meat plants and university research facilities so they could experience the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) grading system.

Mr van den Berg said learning to judge meat on the USDA system would be a unique insight for the students as they progressed through their career.

“It not only provides a challenge for the students but shows how the US uses price signals within the beef industry through value-based grids for yield and quality ,” he said.

ICMJ team member Kieran Smith said he was coming home with a new wealth of knowledge and experience.

“The sheer scale of production in the US is unbelievable,” he said. “The trip has really improved my understanding of how the meat industry functions within the US, as well as its position in a global context.

“Initially, trying to understand the USDA grading system was quite daunting. Calibrating my eyes to view rib eye areas in terms of square inches was probably the most difficult part of training.

“However, after a few long days in the chillers and some expert guidance from our coaches we were able to wrap our heads around the system and this was reflected in our results, with our team winning the beef grading.”

Now the competition is over, the students are visiting a broad cross section of the US meat industry sectors, including seedstock, cow and calf producers, lotfeeders, universities, processors and retailers across Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska.

In addition to international tours, the ICMJ also runs one tertiary competition each year held at CSU Wagga Wagga; one industry conference and competition at CQUniversity Rockhampton; and three school competitions held in Wingham, Scone and Gympie.

Complete results from National Western Stock Show competition:

Beef  Section

Grading individual – 5th Margo Sullivan

Grading team – 1st Australian National Team

Judging individual – 3rd Claire Marriott

Judging team – 1st Australian National Team

Total Beef – 1st Australian National Team

Lamb section

Grading Individual – 1st Margo Sullivan, 2nd Claire Marriott

Grading Team – 1st Australian National Team

Pork section

Individual – 4th Kieran Smith

Team – 3rd Australian National Team

Total placings

Individual – 1st Claire Marriott

Team – 2nd Australian National Team

Total questions

Individual – Tie 5th Margo Sullivan, Claire Marriott & Kieran Smith

Team – 2nd Australian National Team

Total contest

Individuals – 2nd Margo Sullivan, 3rd Claire Marriott

Overall high team – 2nd Australian National Team reserve champions.






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