Kari Moffat and Josh Dawson were awarded the inaugural Angus Australia Foundation BeefEx Scholarships and attendance at the recent BeefEx Forum has encouraged them to continue with their dreams and aspirations within the beef industry.
BeefEx is the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) event for the Australian grain fed beef industry. Delegates came together on the Gold Coast for a creative and innovative program from the 11th-13th of October 2016. A large trade exhibition ran in conjunction with the conference, giving delegates plenty of opportunity to network with industry suppliers.
ALFA’s objective is to have delegates walk away from this event feeling informed and motivated about the future of the lot feeding sector.
From the very first moment when Mick Keogh discussed the complexities of social licensing of the agricultural sector, I knew the two days would not be what I was expecting. The main issues were not so much around the production and management of grain fed animals, but around the threats and opportunities the Australian feedlot industry is currently facing, and can expect in the near future.
Within the Australian feedlotting industry today, skilled and cheap labour is one of the hardest things to get when compared to the major beef importers and exporters. The mining boom has taken away a lot of the labour force that used to be on the land, but learning to adopt more technology to increase the accuracy and productivity of operations has proven to be a success in keeping up and maintaining profitability.
There was also a large amount spoken about the quality and consistency of Australian grain fed beef being sold domestically and internationally, that is a true testament to the cattle being produced and the direction genetics are heading in the future.
Another factor that has shown to be a great asset in the Australian feedlot industry is the NLIS for disease and profitable animal traceability purposes. Easily identifying animals through their NLIS number allows farmers and lotters to see how the animals perform once they are hanging up, and future management decisions can be made from analyzing the information.
Willum Westmar of Charlmar Beef, South Africa, is seeing the importance of a traceability system in their feeding operation of around 18,000 head of cattle. The main reason behind this is so he can see what animals are the most consistent and profitable animals, even though there isn’t a national scheme making traceability mandatory. In his example, the extra cost of implementing a tractability system increases his profitability which is something Australians take for granted.
External factors that were made point of were the global beef herd numbers and how little impact the Australian herd has on world supply, and if Australia is to capitalize on the increasing demand of beef from China, production has to lift.
With the Australian herd under 1% of the total beef herd, our supply fluctuations do not affect the overall demand for beef, however, with Brazil and the USA now being allowed to export beef to china we could lose some of our current market share. Although there may be some market share lost, the high end consumers that Australian meat is targeting will likely not be affected and with China’s middle class population increasing by 299 million in the next 10 years there is going to be much more demand for quality beef.
It was interesting hearing from Ben Thomas, MLA, on his ideas around the growing beef demand in China, and the dropping global beef consumption. Forecasts of the increasing demand will only truly be capitalized on if Australia increases its production of beef, which will come down to how well our stock feed and water resources are utilized and converted.
For a young person in the agricultural industry Beef Ex 2016 was an amazing experience, having the opportunity to listen to speakers discussing all aspects of the future of feedlotting in Australia and the ability to meet feedlot workers, owners, stock feed and nutrition representatives to discuss ideas further was something I grasped with both hands. The contacts made within the industry will hopefully influence my future in the beef industry, and this would not have been possible without the assistance of the Angus Australia Foundation. This is a wonderful event and I would like to thank the Angus Australia Foundation for allowing me to participate in the Beef Ex 2016.
The BeefEx Conference was held on the 24th and 25th of October, with members of the feedlotting industry traveling from all over the country to attend. The line-up of speakers was a mix of international and domestic professionals, ranging from marketing analysts to CEO’s of large feedlotting companies. The two-day conference also hosted a number of social events, which provided great networking opportunities.
The conference’s focus surrounded discussions on Australia’s beef position in a global market and its social licence, with questions asked around what industry could be doing to combat the divide between urban and rural perspectives on where food comes from.
The mix of international speakers provided great insight into Australia’s competition and existing markets, such as South America, North America, South East Asia and South Africa. Marketing Information Manager Ben Thomas from Meat and Livestock Australia, brought the key messages together, with an overview and projection of what the future holds for the Australian beef industry.
Discussions around Australia’s place in the international market were of great interest to me, with countries such as Brazil continuously mentioned as Australia’s biggest competitor in the grassfed market.
Mike Thoren CEO of JBS Five Rivers discussed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the American beef industry, which showed many similarities to those Australia is facing in our beef industry. One weakness that did surprise me was that the USA does not have any form of identification system for cattle, which demonstrated how advanced Australia is in animal traceability.
Overall the conference was a great opportunity to learn more about the feedlotting sector, as well as where Australia’s beef industry sits on a global scale. The trade stands were a great opportunity to network, as well as see what new technologies are available.
I have come away from the conference with optimism and enthusiasm for the industry and thank Angus Australia for this great opportunity.
Top Image: Angus Youth scholarship recipients, Josh Dawson and Kari Moffat at the 2016 BeefEx Forum.