THE Australian Wagyu Association has recognised the outstanding contribution Queensland’s Greg Gibbons has made to the Wagyu industry by awarding him honorary Life Membership during a recent industry gathering at Kerwee feedlot on the Darling Downs.
AWA president Peter Gilmour said it was fortunate for the Australian Wagyu industry, when in 2002 Dugald Cameron sold Aronui Feedlot to the Australian Agricultural Co and Greg Gibbons, the then feedlot manager, stayed with Aronui.
Prior to joining AA Co, ‘Gibbo’ as he is universally known around the lotfeeding and Wagyu industries, worked at and subsequently managed Aronui feedlot for 15 years, gathering a wealth of experience in lotfeeding and Wagyu breeding, feeding, performance and evaluation. Aronui was the site of Australia’s first commercial Wagyu feeding operations in 1997, feeding lines firstly for Simon Coates, and then Peter Cabassi.
Little or nothing was known about ‘Japanese style’ Wagyu feeding systems in that era, and the early F1 cattle were fed a conventional higher-energy ration for around 150 days. Mr Gibbons was one of the pioneers in establishing and perfecting Japanese-style rations much better suited to Wagyu cattle, with consequent dramatic improvement in abundance and consistency of marbling.
“Gibbo’s interest in Wagyu intensified as AA Co focused on Wagyu production, to include the whole supply chain from genetics, backgrounding and feeding rations for Wagyu, to the collection of carcase data and boxed beef marketing,” Mr Gilmour said.
“He acquired an amazing amount of knowledge, which he so generously shared with the industry,” he said.
Gibbo was an active member of the AWA board for nine years and was editor of the Wagyu Update magazine from 2005 to 2012. He also made a big contribution at the AWA’s annual conferences and chaired the conference committee.
For producers hungry for breeding information, his conference updates on carcase and sire line information was always a feature.
“And it was often contrary to the flavour of the month,” Mr Gilmour said. “He always conducted himself as a great ambassador for the industry, strongly supported by his wife, Maryanne, through those critical development times.”
“There would be very few Australian Wagyu producers who have not done business with AA Co through Greg Gibbons over the years. He has always operated with great integrity in business, was sympathetic to producers in drought conditions, taking stock at lower weights to help out.”
In 2005 Mr Gibbons was appointed group manager, breeding operations for AA Co, and in 2009 was appointed to his current role of general manager South East Queensland, Wagyu and feedlots.
“There were occasions when the market was sluggish and Gibbo purchased cattle for AA Co which helped to invigorate the market. This was very much appreciated by all producers in those times,” Mr Gilmour said.
“He has had a huge impact on the AWA board and for the whole Wagyu industry in Australia.”
Former presidents add their thanks
Former AWA presidents and boardmembers were equally supportive of the life membership in recognition of Mr Gibbons’ contribution.
AWA boardmember Ron Fitzgerald said if it wasn’t for Gibbo and AA Co when the Wagyu industry was ‘on its knees’, it would be a very different association now.
Former president Rick Hunter said it was a pleasure to endorse Greg Gibbons for Life Membership to the AWA.
“He is a very worthy recipient. Gibbo was a key member and integral part of our board, giving a valued perspective on all sectors of the Wagyu industry,” Mr Hunter said.
Another former AWA president, Joe Grose, said during his time on the AWA council, Gibbo always took the time to listen to all opinions, and was able to consider these on their genuine merit.
“He was strident in arguing for policy that would benefit the industry as a whole, not just for individuals or at the detriment of other stakeholders. But above all he brought a commercial reality to an environment that sometimes needed to re-focus on the grass roots.”
Former association president Scott Hughes said Gibbo gave freely of his time and AA Co technical findings in advising the conferences and field days held at AA Co of Wagyu genetics and their performance.
“Those conferences hung off his every word. Greg led the Wagyu certification project, assisted with conference organisation, supported AWA in AA Co registrations and performance data, and assisted the Wagyu Collaborative Genetics Research Project with AA Co fullblood carcase performance data,” Mr Hughes said.