People on the Move: Appointments, retirements, achievements

Jon Condon, 10/05/2017

Beef Central publishes an occasional summary of appointments, departures or achievements occurring across the red meat supply chain, both private sector and government. Send details for entries to

  • John Dee’s Bob Hart steps back, after epic 70 years
  • Meat scientist Peter McGilchrist moves to UNE
  • 28 years at Rangers draws to close for Richard Eldershaw
  • JBS veteran livestock buyer retires
  • Former CCA executive takes dairy lobby role
  • Vale Bob Freer
  • AA Co departure for Innovation & Technology head
  • New starters at AuctionsPlus
  • Award boosts research into smart technology for improved animal welfare
  • New chair appointed to FIRB
  • Sonny Perdue confirmed as US Secretary of Agriculture


John Dee’s Bob Hart steps back, after epic 70 years

ONE of the senior statesmen of the Australian red meat processing industry, Bob Hart, will step down from day-to-day operations at the family-owned John Dee export and domestic beef plant near Warwick (southern Qld) in July.

John Dee's Bob Hart

John Dee’s Bob Hart

Mr Hart continues to work at the site every day, in his capacity as managing director. His decision to retire draws to a close an incredible 70 years of working history at the plant, where he started at the age of 22. While he will continue to sit on the John Dee board, Mr Hart is handing over the operational reins to current general manager Warren Stiff, who from July becomes chief executive officer and takes a seat on the John Dee board.

Mr Stiff has been with John Dee for the past 25 years, working through a variety of operations and management roles.

John Dee is the oldest single-family owned meat processor in Australia, tracing its origins back to 1939. Mr Hart started work at the plant just eight years later. Beef Central talks with Bob Hart in coming weeks for a retrospective article to be published in June. Click here to view a recent article on major investment in chilling and freezing infrastructure at the John Dee plant.

Meat scientist Peter McGilchrist moves to UNE

Respected meat and livestock scientist Dr Peter McGilchrist has accepted a position at the University of New England in Armidale.

Peter McGilchrist

Peter McGilchrist

Dr McGilchrist will move from his current position as lecturer in Animal Production in the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences at WA’s Murdoch U to become UNE’s senior lecturer in meat science. He starts in his new role on 22 May.

Dr McGilchrist is perhaps best known for his recent valuable research in the field of dark cutting and its causes, taking him the length and breadth of Australia to address producer groups on the topic. Recent research suggests a link in some examples in southern Australia with magnesium deficiency (see earlier story on Beef Central).

Although associated by many with WA through his tenure at Murdoch University, he grew up on a beef cattle property near Wallabadah, south of Tamworth.

Murdoch U recently advertised on Beef Central’s recruitment page to fill the vacancy caused by Dr McGilchrist’s departure. Meanwhile, in related news, University of Qld is advertising for a Meat Science research leader. The position description can also be found on Beef Central’s recruitment platform, Jobs Central.

28 years at Rangers draws to close

Well-known feedlot livestock identity Richard Eldershaw resigned recently from Rangers Valley feedlot, ending 28 years employment with the grainfed supply chain business.

Mr Eldershaw became widely known in a livestock catchment area extending from Central Queensland to the western districts of Victoria, eastern South Australia and Tasmania sourcing mostly Angus and later, Wagyu feeders for Rangers Valley’s longfed export programs and shortfed domestic markets.

Through that journey he has arguably bought more feeder cattle than just about anyone in Australia, and accrued deep knowledge of feedlot issues. Over the years he built priceless connections with the people from whom he was buying, their properties and the performance of their cattle.

Richard Eldershaw, pictured right with livestock suppliers and chefs during a brand showcase, has moved on from Rangers Valley feedlot after 28 years

Richard Eldershaw, pictured right with livestock suppliers and chefs during a brand showcase, has moved on from Rangers Valley feedlot after 28 years

Mr Eldershaw addressed more than 400 delegates at the recent Australian Wagyu Association conference on feeder cattle issues.

Rangers Valley started as an entity in October 1988, in a joint venture involving the Crothers family and Japan’s Marubeni and a Japanese lotfeeder Mr Inoue. Mr Eldershaw joined the company early the following year, leaving an agency branch management role with Dalgety. He worked under six general managers over the years – Bob Crothers, Japanese gentlemen Mr Henry Akutsu and Mr Imai, Malcolm Foster for 17 years, Don Mackay and current GM, Keith Howe.

In the early years the yard had only a single lane of pens, accommodating only 3000-4000 cattle. In recent years, livestock procurement at Rangers has involved 50,000 to 55,000 cattle each year, worth around $110 million annually in procurement cost.

While the emphasis in early years was almost entirely on Murray Grey and Angus cattle for 300-day programs, in the past decade Mr Eldershaw’s role expanded to include managing the procurement of F1 Wagyu X Angus and F1 Wagyu X Holstein, Fullblood Wagyu, EU Angus and shortfed Angus for the New England yard.

He also set up a livestock supply program for Korean supermarket giant Lotte, fed through Sandalwood and Yarranbrook feedlots, managed Rangers’ dairy wagyu business on the NSW mid north coast, and backgrounding operations from Wodonga to Goondiwindi. He operated from a base in Wagga for the past 15 years or more, closer to the bulk of Rangers Valley’s southern feeder supply.

Mr Eldershaw has no immediate plans regarding future involvement in the beef industry, but said he was ‘considering his options.’

Rangers has interviewed for a replacement, but is yet to make an appointment.

Former CCA executive takes dairy lobby role

Former Cattle Council of Australia executive director, David Inall, returns to Australia in July after a four-year stint working in the US, to head up the Australian Dairy Farmers organisation.

Mr Inall worked with CCA for seven years, most of it as executive director, until leaving in late 2012 to take a position as senior vice-president and director for operations with United Egg Producers in the US. He helped steer US egg farmers through the worst disease outbreak in American history with avian influenza in 2015. About 50 million birds were destroyed to try to halt the disease.

Australian Dairy Farmers, the national advocacy body representing dairy farmers across the six states, has a big task ahead rebuilding the relationships between suppliers and processors after Murray Goulburn’s disastrous mishandling of dairy farmers’ financial interests.

Vale Bob Freer

Much-respected former Hereford Society technical officer Bob Freer passed away on Friday, following a 12-month illness caused by a brain tumour. He was 75.

Mr Freer was a senior beef extension officer with the NSW Department of Primary Industries when he joined the Hereford Society as technical development director in 1985. He stayed in the role until 2006. His was the first such technical/extension appointment in the stud stock industry in Australia, and he embraced the role with great energy and effectiveness.

“Bob Freer quickly positioned the new department, Taurus Technology, to reach its potential in making an invaluable contribution to the advancement of the Hereford breed, not only in Australia but in other countries such as US, Canada, Argentina, New Zealand, UK, Ireland, Zimbabwe and  South Africa, where he was often invited to speak to producers,” former Hereford Society CEO Geoff Taylor wrote in an earlier tribute.

Mr Freer became widely known among seedstock and commercial cattle producers, not only in the Hereford breed, across eastern parts of Australia. He also mentored many younger extension and technical personnel working across the beef industry.

Later Mr Freer established a genetics and management consultancy, and worked closely with the Animal Genetics & Breeding Unit and the Agricultural Business Research Institute, based at Armidale. He also played a strong role in the formation and progression of the Australian Registered Cattle Breeders Association.

His funeral will be held at Pittington’s Crematorium in Armidale from 2pm this Friday, May 12.

JBS veteran livestock buyer retires

After 44 years as a cattle buyer, Lance Loveday has put the buying book in his back pocket, the drafting cane away and finished his career with JBS Australia. His recent retirement was marked with a gathering of friends and former and current work colleagues (see image below).

He was a popular and much respected part of the JBS livestock buying team, committed to his craft and certainly a workmate that all enjoyed working with and alongside.

“Any of our younger team members that trained under Lance were taught that there is no compromise, and that things will be done right, or not at all,” JBS northern livestock manager Steve Groom said at the time of his retirement.

Lance started as a trainee agent with Dalgety NZ Loan at 15, before being employed by industry legend Graham Flynn at 20, as a cattle buyer for Tancreds, in 1973. He was based as a buyer out of Murgon, Biloela and the Tancreds plant site at Beaudesert, recalling buying 2175 head in a single week at the now defunct Cannon Hill sales in Brisbane. With the formation of Australia Meat Holdings in 1986 (predecessor to today’s JBS Australia), and the ultimate closure of the Beaudesert plant, Lance moved across to the Dinmore business, where he continued to work until his retirement. At the time of his retirement he was the second longest-serving JBS livestock staffmember, topped only by Tony Clifford in Scone (45 years).

Replacing Lance as livestock manager at Dinmore since last month is Scott Minnikin, who moves across from operational roles at JBS Beef City and Riverina. Scott spent three months in transition with Lance since November last year.

Gathered for Lance Loveday's recent send-off were from former and current JBS/AMH livestock men, from left, Ross Keane. Lance himself, Steve Groom, Brett Campbell and John Keir.

Gathered for Lance Loveday’s recent send-off were from former and current JBS/AMH livestock men, from left, Ross Keane. Lance himself, Steve Groom, Brett Campbell and John Keir.

AA Co departure for Innovation & Technology head

Australian Agricultural Co’s general manager of innovation and technology, Dr Gerard Davis, has finished up with the company after three years.

While he has now stepped back from senior executive roles, Dr Davis will continue to consult with AA Co over specific projects, the company said.

An animal geneticist by trade, Dr Davis was a partner in the Genetics Solutions DNA market development business earlier in his career.

The leadership team and the skills-set required at AA Co continues to evolve, as the company progresses its move from being a traditional livestock producer to being a fully integrated branded beef entity.

There are no immediate plans for a replacement for Dr Davis, nor has there been any move yet to replace recently departed chief financial officer Andrew Slatter, acting head of sales and marketing Michelle Aldridge, or general manager of pastoral operations, Henry Burke, profiled in this earlier Beef Central article.

New starters at AuctionsPlus

Ellen Simpson

Ellen Simpson

AuctionsPlus has appointed two new market operators, strengthening the online livestock marketing platform’s operations team.

Ellen Simpson has recently returned to Australia following six months in the US as recipient of Angus Australia’s National Judging Scholarship. She studied Animal Science at university before travelling abroad to work in Canada and England. Her family breed Angus cattle near Braidwood, NSW which instilled a love of beef cattle, and she returns home to lend a hand as much as possible.

Mick Corcoran

Mick Corcoran

Mick Corcoran also joins AuctionsPlus as a market operator. Hailing from Glen Innes, Mick has a diverse background ranging from experience in Northern Australia’s cattle and live export industries to financial and rural property sales. He studied business management at Queensland University of Technology, before moving to Sydney. Mick is looking to expand his knowledge of the stock agency industry and keep an eye on his father’s, (well-known livestock agent Tony Corcoran) AuctionsPlus assessments.

Award boosts research into smart technology for improved animal welfare

CQUniversity research fellow Dr Kym Patison has won the prestigious CSIRO Health and Biosecurity award for her work in developing on-farm animal welfare monitoring systems.

Dr Patison was presented with the award, and a research grant worth almost $20 000, by deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce at the recent Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

The funding will assist in progressing her research which uses electronic proximity sensors to assess the health of cattle herds. Dr Patison said in the future, these sensors could provide farmers with vital information on the health and welfare of their herd in real time, via digital farm management platforms.

Andy Shepphard (CSIRO Biosecurity) and Senator Anne Ruston (Deputy Ag minister) congratulate CQUniversity’s Dr Kym Patison for her CSIRO Health and Biosecurity award. Photo: Steve Keough.

Andy Shepphard (CSIRO Biosecurity) and Senator Anne Ruston (Deputy Ag minister) congratulate CQUniversity’s Dr Kym Patison for her CSIRO Health and Biosecurity award. Photo: Steve Keough.

“Cattle have quite set social structures, they have regular contact patterns that they make with members in the group and they’ll contact some more than others depending on the relationship that they have with them,” she said.

“When two animals come together, the loggers record when and how long they interact for and can be used to alert stock managers to any unusual changes in behavioural patterns. Ultimately, we would like farmers to be able to use information from cattle sensors to detect animal health issues, such as a sick animal, or problems in their environment, such as the presence of a wild dog or an empty trough.”

Dr Patison said she was inspired to undertake the research after moving to Rockhampton from a background in dairy farming in Victoria. “On a dairy farm, you get to know individual cows and because you are in daily contact with them it is much easier to know when something’s wrong,” she said.

“Technology is a way of enabling farmers running extensive beef cattle production systems to have a similar relationship with their stock and improve the way animal welfare is monitored.”

CQUniversity has been developing a web-based app, Data Muster, to enable producers to monitor their stock based on information gathered from sensors on animals, such as proximity loggers, or in the paddock, such as walk-over-weigh stations.

New chair appointed to FIRB

Treasurer Scott Morrison recently announced the appointment of David Irvine as the new chair of the Foreign Investment Review Board, replacing outgoing chair Brian Wilson. Mr Irvine began his five-year term last month.

The FIRB is a non-statutory body established in 1976 to provide advice to the Government on foreign investment policy and administration, including foreign investment applications. The Board’s functions are advisory only.

Mr Irvine was the former director general of both the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. He is also a former Australian Ambassador to China and High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea. He has been a member of the FIRB board since 2015. Mr Irvine is joined on the board by Michael D’Ascenzo, David Peever, Patrick Secker and Alice Williams.

Sonny Perdue confirmed as US Secretary of Agriculture

Sonny Perdue was last month inducted as the United States’ thirty first Secretary of Agriculture.

The former governor of Georgia succeeds Tom Vilsack, who led the US Department of Agriculture for the past eight years and who endorsed Perdue as his successor once the former Georgia governor was nominated by President Trump. Like Mr Vilsack, Mr Perdue was governor of a large diversified agricultural state, who takes over USDA with very broad support. The Senate vote for his appointment was an illustration of the depth of support for Perdue. His 87 votes were in record territory for a Trump cabinet nominee.




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