People on the Move: Appointments, retirements, achievements

Jon Condon, 14/06/2017

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

  • JCU researcher receives Australia’s top vet science prize
  • WA senator Chris Back calls time
  • Changes at the top for JBS
  • New GM livestock at WA’s Minderoo
  • Trade access specialist Greg Read departs DoA
  • FLA’s Ben Lyons moves to private sector role
  • US meat export leader retires
  • New head for Austrade
  • Celebrating the life of a true wild dog control advocate
  • Scholarship funds to take young Victorian vet to US

JCU researcher receives nation’s top vet science prize

James Cook University’s Professor Peter Chenoweth has been awarded Australia’s highest honour for veterinary science.

Prof Chenoweth has won the Australian Veterinary Association’s Gilruth Prize for his outstanding contribution to vet sciences. The award recognises his contributions to male animal reproduction research, in particular his important role in developing standards for male animal fertility assessments and breeding protocols. He has also been a leader and role model for others involved in the veterinary sciences.

Prof Chenoweth acknowledged that the field of vet sciences has become more complex and sophisticated than when he started, mostly due to advances in scientific technology and through collaboration with other scientific disciplines.

“I believe that mentoring of students and staff is incredibly important. Their journey is much more complicated these days and senior researchers need to be attentive to that,” he said, while receiving his award at the Australian Veterinary Association’s annual general meeting in Melbourne.

Prof Chenoweth has authored more than 200 publications, including textbooks, in animal reproduction, veterinary education and animal welfare.

WA senator Chris Back calls time

Veteran Western Australian Liberal Senator Chris Back has announced his retirement from the Federal Parliament, with next week being his last sitting week in the Senate.

Senator Chris Back

During his eight years representing the people of WA, Dr Back – the first veterinarian elected to the Australian Senate – has been a vigorous and effective advocate for the primary industries sector, particularly over issues like live export. Bushfire and emergency services personnel, education representatives and the equine industry have also benefited from his specialised expertise.

“The value of any contribution I may have made was largely due to the quality and timeliness of information shared by the many people in each of these sectors who were willing to trust me with their advice,” Dr Back said in a message to colleagues this week. He indicated that changing family circumstances had prompted his sudden decision to retire.

“Travel from WA to meet our commitments in the Parliament and the heavy workload of Senate and Joint Committees around the country places a heavy burden on members and senators. I am no longer in a position to continue this commitment and meet my obligations to my family,” he said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described Senator Back as “a tireless and indefatigable advocate for the West” who ensured the agricultural, agribusiness and resources sectors had a strong voice in the senate. Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport (RRAT) Committee Co-Chair Senator Barry O’Sullivan said Dr Back’s retirement would significantly impact on the knowledge and appreciation of the central role of rural industry within Federal Parliament. “Chris’ role as a scientific adviser to his colleagues will be sorely missed. He brought a depth of understanding about rural industry that made him indispensable to his colleagues,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

Changes at the top for JBS

Tarek Farahat

As flagged in this earlier Beef Central article, global meat processor JBS SA recently announced to shareholders that Tarek Farahat has been elected board chairman. He replaces Joesley Batista, who has resigned as chairman and as a member of the board, following the recent bribery scandal enveloping the Batistas’ holding company, J&F. In the same meeting, José Batista, younger brother of Wesley and Joesley, was elected vice chairman of the JBS board.

Mr Farahat worked for global consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble for 26 years, serving including leadership positions in the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. He has been a director of JBS since 2013 and has served as global president of marketing and innovation since 2015.

The Board also ratified the creation of a Governance Committee, which will be led by Mr Farahat and whose main objective will be to implement global best practices in corporate governance and compliance at JBS.

Trade access specialist Greg Read departs DoA

Australia’s lead negotiator in trade access issues, Department of Agriculture first assistant secretary Greg Read, has taken 12 months paid leave from his position. His sudden departure took many in the industry by surprise.

Greg Read

Having led the DoA’s exports division for 16 years, his departure will leave a considerable expertise hole to fill, beef export contacts told Beef Central.

“Departments routinely move executive staff into new areas of responsibility to add new perspectives and approaches,” a departmental spokesperson said, when Beef Central requested a comment surrounding the circumstances behind the departure. “It is the right time for another departmental officer to be offered the same opportunity to continue Australia’s export initiatives and to work with staff, industries and trading partners,” the spokesperson said.

“Greg wishes to thank all stakeholders, domestically and internationally, for their support over the years. He has valued the relationships, shared goals and achievements that have been delivered to maintain Australia’s reputation as a world class exporter of safe, quality agricultural commodities around the globe.”

Experienced and well-respected departmental team member Fran Freeman will lead the Exports Division from 31 July.

FLA’s Ben Lyons moves to private sector role

Food Leaders Australia CEO Ben Lyons has announced his departure from the company after accepting a private sector opportunity in the region.

Dr Lyons, who grew up at Augathella and Glenmorgan in Queensland before living and working in China for 18 years returned in 2015 to head-up Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TSBE), before going on to direct the growth of then-newly formed Food Leaders Australia organisation as CEO. He has a doctorate in agricultural economics and has experience in senior roles in the wool, education and finance industries.

Dr Lyons said his time at FLA had been marked by major milestones in the region for agriculture, producers, and agribusiness. Some of the highlights included working alongside other stakeholders to establish the Cathay Pacific freight flights through Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport as well as the first international passenger flight from the airport to Shanghai last year for the wildly successful AccessChina’16 trade mission.

“Helping to convince Cathay Pacific to believe in the region as export capable, off the back of its agricultural expansions, is a great achievement that we see every Tuesday night as the plane comes in,” he said. “It’s been rewarding to see established companies like Oakey Beef crack their China market and overcome access issues. There’s a lot of opportunities yet to be tapped and we’ve proven that with insight, private and public investment, collaboration and innovation, our region’s story is still developing.”

Dr Lyons finished in his role as CEO at FLA on May 31, but continues to consult for TSBE and FLA on projects including Activate China and the upcoming Access Hong Kong trade mission.

TSBE executive chairman Shane Charles said Dr Lyons had been an instrumental and driving force behind agricultural growth and trade in the Darling Downs region. “The achievements for FLA under Ben cannot be understated, and we’ve seen growth, emerging markets and export develop along with the capability of our producers,” he said.

FLA is recruiting to find a ‘commercially-minded’ General Manager.

Ben Lyons

New GM livestock at WA’s Minderoo

MINDEROO Group’s Harvest Road Beef business in Western Australia has created a new position of general manager of livestock.

Harvest Road Beef, owned by mining magnate Andrew Forrest and his wife Nicola, is Minderoo’s integrated beef group, which includes Minderoo Pastoral and Harvey Beef assets. Harvey Beef livestock manager Kim McDougall has been appointed to the new role. The new entity will combine Minderoo Pastoral interests and Harvey Beef, including its WA cattle stations.

Mr McDougall will be responsible for overseeing the pastoral operations, including Minderoo; two Pilbara leases, Nanutarra and Uaroo, near Onslow; and two Gascoyne cattle stations, Brickhouse and Minilya stations, near Carnarvon.

Minderoo Group’s head of investment John Hartman said the role would allow for increased operational efficiencies across the integrated beef group. Mr McDougall will be working with an on-the-ground pastoral operations manager. The appointment of the regional manager for its pastoral operations (advertised earlier on Beef Central) is yet to be filled, after former manager Ben Wratten moved on.

“The role will continue to oversee livestock procurement for our processing business,” Mr Hartman said.

Under the managerial structural change, Harvey Beef general manager Wayne Shaw remains in his position, with both general managers reporting to head of investments for Minderoo Group, Mr Hartman.

US meat export leader retires

The US Meat Export Federation has announced that Phil Seng, who has led the organisation for the past 27 years, will step down as CEO at the end of this year. USMEF senior vice president for marketing, Dan Halstrom, will become president on September 1, and will also take on the mantle of CEO in December.

USMEF president Phil Seng

Despite the competitive rivalry between the Australian and US beef industries on the global export stage, Mr Seng remains much admired and genuinely liked within the Australian meat export community, as a ‘genuinely nice guy.’ He consistently treated the Australian industry with great respect.

Mr Seng joined USMEF in 1982 as the group’s Asia Director. Fluent in Japanese, he played a central role in opening the Japanese beef market for US exports after Japan market liberalisation in 1990. For many years he has acted as primary spokesman for USMEF and other exporting interests to government and private entities regarding international trade policy and foreign market development for US red meat.

Mr Seng served four terms as president of the International Meat Secretariat, where meat experts from more than 40 nations regularly meet to discuss and resolve issues.

New head for Austrade

Stephanie Fahey

Dr Stephanie Fahey is the first female chief executive officer of Austrade, the Australian Government agency responsible for promoting trade, investment and international education, and tourism policy, programs and research.

Dr Fahey took up the appointment in April. She has 30 years’ experience both as an academic and executive working in Australia and overseas.

Previously she was EY’s lead partner for education in the Oceania region, deputy vice chancellor (Global Engagement) at Monash U and director of the U of Sydney’s research institute for Asia and the Pacific. Dr Fahey also served on the Australia China Business Council, the Australia China Council, the NSW International Education Advisory Board, the European Australian Business Council, the board of Canberra Institute of Technology, the Foreign Affairs Council and the Australia Korean Foundation.

Celebrating the life of a true wild dog control advocate

Members of the National Wild Dog Action Plan stakeholder group have joined their voices in celebrating the life of Michele Jackson who recently passed away from an ongoing battle with cancer.

Michele was instrumental in the development of a national approach to wild dog management within Australia, which resulted in the National Wild Dog Action Plan being implemented in 2014. She remained committed to the cause even after stepping down as the Action Plan Manager in December 2015.

Geoff Power, chair of the National Wild Dog Action Plan stakeholder group said Ms Jackson had left a legacy that she would have been proud of. “Michele was an integral part of the National Wild Dog Action Plan, and it is now up to us to collectively build on what she helped create,” Mr Power said.

Greg Mifsud, National Wild Dog management facilitator with the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre said Michele was a pillar of strength and worked tirelessly for the cause.

“Without her drive, passion and commitment to the action plan it would not have been developed in just 12 short months. We became very good friends and developed an extremely productive professional relationship that resulted in the plan being funded for the last three years. She was an extremely enthusiastic and passionate person who didn’t do things by halves and always put others first,” Mr Mifsud said.

“Michele was the ultimate campaigner for a coordinated, national approach to wild dog management.”

Scholarship funds to take young Victorian vet to US

Young Victorian veterinary student Matthew DeCicco is this year’s winner of the Greenham GOTAFE Scholarship, valued at $12,000.

Matthew DeCicco, this year’s winner of the Greenham GOTAFE Scholarship, is congratulated by HW Greenham’s Grant Ryan

Currently in his fifth year of veterinary science at Charles Sturt in Wagga, Matthew 23, from Merrigum, plans to use the money to undertake an exclusive four week placement at Cornell University, NY. He is keen to concentrate on herd health, transition cow management, metabolic diseases, fertility and reproduction across both small and large operations.

Tongala meat processor HW Greenham offers the dairy-oriented education scholarship each year, because it is closely aligned with the dairy industry as a slaughter cattle source for its Victorian meat operations.

Joint managing director of HW Greenham & Sons, Grant Ryan, said the company offered the scholarship to encourage future leaders in agriculture. “Matthew is a very impressive young man and we see him as a future leader in the livestock industry,” Mr Ryan said.

Past winners have pursued interests in large herd vet issues, soil and pasture management, business and environmental management, animal sciences and livestock technology.


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  1. Peter Lucas, 14/06/2017

    Michele Jackson will be sadly missed to all landholders who are struggling with wild dog control, I agree with Geoff Power and Greg Mifsud, she had passion, drive and commitment for wild dog control across Australia. Thank you Michele.

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