A NEW rising Australian beef industry champion was named in Canberra last night as 35 years of Cattle Council of Australia achievements, many unheralded and largely unrecognised, were marked by agricultural and political leaders.
Central Queensland cattle producer Sam Becker was named the 2014 Cattle Council of Australia NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion.
From an early age Sam has been a passionate contributor to his family’s large seedstock and commercial cattle breeding business which spans five properties in the Banana district, and at the age of 24 is now heavily involved in the management of the operation.
The NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion Acknowledgement Award was awarded to Australian Agricultural Co’s Cassie Cox. A University of Queensland agricultural science graduate from Southern Queensland, Cassie worked for the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industries’ Pastoral Production team in Tennant Creek for two years before joining AACo in 2011. Cassie and her husband Anthony today run the Anthony Lagoon and Eva Downs stations for AACo on the Barkly.
The council’s Rising Champions initiative is now in its fifth year and plays a pivotal role in identifying, encouraging and supporting emerging young industry leaders across Australia’s vast beef cattle industry.
The seven finalists this year epitomise the spirit of young leaders being unafraid to “get in and have a go”, with all having already risen to positions of significant responsibility either within existing cattle businesses or in new enterprises they themselves have established despite their young ages.
Between them the seven finalists run vast NT cattle stations, manage feedlots for major pastoral companies and oversee large saleyard and livestock export operations; one, Hayley Goad, has become the first female livestock auctioneer in her home state of WA, while others are investing in their own cattle operations and paddock to plate businesses marketing branded beef directly to city customers.
2014 Rising Champion Sam Becker said the opportunity the initative had provided to spend time with other motivated young industry leaders and rubbing shoulders with key industry decision makers and influencers in Canberra had been “mind blowing”.
“Winning this is something I wasn’t expecting but I am thrilled to have had the opportunity and for the people I have been able to meet,” Sam said.
“Any one of us could have won and I don’t think it would have made a difference, I think we all have the industry at heart and that is the main thing.”
Sam said he entered the competition to get out of his comfort zone and to develop his leadership skills.
“The cattle industry is my love, it is my passion, but most importantly it is my business, and that is the key message I want to portray.
“I just think there are so many opportunities in this industry, no matter what you want to do there is an avenue for you to pursue and enjoy.
“I think there are exciting times for the industry ahead, demand for red meat is increasing, that is only going to grow our business and hopefully value add to the product we are producing.”
Cattle Council president Andrew Ogilvie said it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with all participants in the 2014 initiative.
“The passion and knowledge that the Rising Champions show for the industry is invigorating and after meeting the seven 2014 participants I feel confident that the future of the beef industry is in good hands. I look forward to following the progress of each of our participants and would particularly like to congratulate Sam and Cassie,” Mr Ogilvie said.
“They just keep getting better”
NAB Agribusiness manager for New South Wales Geoff Rose said it had been a pleasure to spend time with this year’s crop of rising champions, and noted that they “just seemed to keep getting better and better” every year.
“The energy and passion that these people are putting in is astounding,” Mr Rose said.
“I had an opportunity to discuss my leadership over my time within NAB Agribusiness, but upon reflection what I really found was that in the conversation that I had with them, I learned just as much from them as hopefully they did from me.
“Leadership comes from all levels, not just those at the top of the tree – everybody has something to offer, and these guys are going to put back and give back to the industry in the future.”
Last year’s winner Blythe Calnan from the Pilbara in WA provides consulting and training support services in animal handling and welfare to to supply chains in various live export markets, particularly in the Middle East ad North Africa.
Blythe described the past 12 months as the industry’s Rising Champion as an “amazing experience”, one which had opened new doors in her career but had also given her the opportunity to spend time helping to ensure political leaders “know what live export is really all about”.
“Probably the most beneficial part has been from being part of Cattle Council itself,” Blythe told last night’s dinner at Old Parliament House in Canberra.
“It has been amazing to be part of the sub-committees. I sat at the table today with probably a few centuries worth of experience and really realised the part I could play in the industry, besides bringing the average age of the group down a little bit. (A comment that triggered widespread laughter and applause particularly from the many grey-haired luminaries in attendance.)
“The people involved here, and their passion for their industry, really make me excited to be part of it all.”
Federal agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce noted that past CCA Rising Champion participants were already making their mark across the industry in a variety of ways, including in his own office.
He noted that last year’s NAB Agribusiness encouragement award winner Craig Croker from Crookwell in New South Wales is now one of how own advisors.
“You actually now have a spy in the palace to so speak,” Minister Joyce said.
“It is good when you ask what do rising champions do, now we have someone who is a senior advisor to the minister of agriculture.”
Mr Joyce said Australia’s successful Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign (BTEC) which ran from the 1970s to 1990s was an example of strong industry leadership that had allowed Australia to achieve something no other nation had done.
Among the crowd at last night’s 35th Cattle Council of Australia anniversary dinner were past CCA presidents John Wyld, Wally Peart and Gerry Collins, former CCA executive directors Justin Toohey and David Palmer, federal shadow agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon and National Farmers Federation president Brent Finlay.
David Palmer provided a retrospective of CCA’s 35 years, which will be documented in a follow-up story on Beef Central.
- For bios on each of the 2014 Rising Champion finalists click here to view Beef Central’s earlier story
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