The Graeme Acton Beef Connections program is about developing the skills of young beef producers by providing training and personal development opportunities and a mentor to help them achieve their goals and participate in Beef Australia 2018.
The inaugural Beef Connections program was a new initiative of Beef Australia 2015 and is back for 2018 and still proudly supported by Westpac Agribusiness.
Beef Connections was named in honour of the late Graeme Acton, who was a leading Queensland beef industry figure renowned for supporting young people in entering the sector, and sharing with them his extensive knowledge.
In 2015 I was lucky enough to be selected to participate in the inaugural Graeme Acton Beef Connections program. The program not only connected me with a group of likeminded individuals, but also with some of the wisest and most experienced minds in the industry. Going into the program, I had a lot of big ideas, but I did not possess the patience or skills to be able to break them down into achievable attributes. Through working with my mentor Charlie and the programs facilitator, Barb, I learnt how to strategically plan and execute my ideas, setting myself up to be able to achieve them, regardless how ambitious they originally seemed. The skills I learnt from participating in the program have allowed me to relocate to Boston, Massachusetts, where I now live, fulfilling my big idea of selling Australian beef, lamb and mutton in the United States. Sarah Cameron, 2015 participant
“Having access to a mentor in a structured program was an integral part of our family’s move into property ownership in 2016. The experience & wealth of knowledge that my mentor Philip bought to the table was invaluable in regards to navigating our way through this process. Our relationship has continued since the program ended & we now regard he & his family as good friends. In addition to this my participation in the program has opened all sorts of doors so I would encourage anyone considering applying to have a go.” Adam Coffey, 2015 participant
Meet the successful 2018 Mentor Partners
Anna White - Producer
New South Wales
“The Beef Connections Program provides the opportunity to continue to grow and develop personal skills within the beef industry. Various workshops, networking occasions and assistance from a mentor provide the perfect platform to achieve goals including project outcomes. I wanted to participate in the Beef Connections Program as currently I feel there is a gap in the industry. Consumer feedback is a vital tool in allowing businesses to continue to grow and provide customer satisfaction. However currently in some areas of the industry this transferral of information between farm gate, feedlot and abattoir are currently lacking. I wanted to participate in the program to open the gates for the transferral of data, ideally leading to better management decisions being made at the farm gate. This will not only assist my family enterprise but many other producers as well”.
Mentor: David Greenup
Stewart Moroney - Producer/Processor
“The Graeme Acton Beef Connections program will provide a fantastic opportunity to develop my project under the guidance of an Ag industry professional, with the experience provided by my mentor being invaluable. The Australian Beef industry is currently in a fantastic position from a producers point of view, and I think one of the biggest challenges is continuing to develop youth in Agriculture at the farm gate, and looking for ways in which young agribusiness professionals can partner with domestic and international investment to bring to life farming enterprises and agricultural related businesses. I have always had an interest in the production of livestock and then incorporating branding into that production system to value add to the existing high quality of livestock produced, as well as marketing and sales of the branded product, with the end aim to generate significant demand for the livestock supplied into the brands, increasing farm gate returns for producers. Incorporating technology into this system makes it even more exciting, and allows for detailed analysis of the production system, processing and sales.”
Mentor: Brett Kelly
Bede McAlpin - Agribusiness
“I have always had a strong interest in Beef cattle, so to be able to work to further develop this industry is something I am very passionate about. Originally coming from the southern highlands of NSW and now living in the Darling Downs of QLD I think I see enormous potential for the beef industry in both areas. The Darling downs, in particular, are on the cusp of an investment boom of agri-commodities with beef being at the forefront of this. If I had to choose a strength in my chosen field I would say being able to see the production of beef through a whole supply chain approach rather than a step by step approach which can somewhat been seen as departmentalised”.
Mentor: Richard Rains
Ella Paine - Producer/Student
“In five years time I hope I will have finished university and be working in a rural occupation, perhaps in a role which focusses on training and upskilling rural employees. In terms of accomplishment I will be satisfied to have a personally and professionally rewarding job within the beef industry. The biggest challenge for Australia’s Beef industry I think is keeping up with the pace of demand and innovation – education and training play a massive part in the success of any industry and it’s no different for the rapidly changing face of Australia’s cattle sector”.
Mentor: Steve Taylor
Hamish Lamond - Producer
Working on an isolated cattle station provides limited networking opportunities outside of our small community. The Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program is a rare and fantastic opportunity for me to be able to network with industry leaders and other young producers, it also provides me the opportunity of being able to share my project findings and knowledge with other Northern Beef Producers.
I see the biggest challenge for the Australian Beef Industry as maintaining our integrity on a global scale. We face many challenges which could jeopardise this such as biosecurity and animal welfare.
In five years time I see myself as being a progressive and innovative producer in the northern beef industry whilst also maintaining a professional approach to the stock handling and animal welfare practices, in a personal development sense I hope to continue moving towards a management based role.
Mentor: Greg Chappell
Annabelle Butler - Student
New South Wales
“I wanted to participate in the Beef Connections Program for a number of reasons, including developing skills to contribute towards the growth and sustainability of the beef industry as well as expanding my professional network. It was also a fantastic opportunity to undertake a relevant industry project under the guidance of a mentor, that would actually make a difference to producers. I have chosen to study a degree in Applied Science (majoring in Animal Production) and Agribusiness to ensure I learn about each sector within the beef industry and how agribusiness can influence these. I believe it is important to have a holistic approach to industry learning, in order to understand the business behind the production”
Mentor: Julie McDonald
Jim Teasdale - Marketing
“I have great admiration for the innovation shown by managers across the industry and across the country in way they manage their land, livestock and people. There are some impressive big names that I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with, but I have fondest lesson’s, memories and admiration for smaller operators on tough blocks that survive and prosper through the patience, and understanding of their livestock and properties. I’ve stepped onto decks of ships and seen a line of beautiful grey steers that I know are from very sweet country, but they are a little wiry and rush to the other side of the pen when you come close, then see a motley mob with the odd brindle and black, but they are soft, rounded and quiet from being tailed and educated. While sometimes the obvious thing to aspire to is the even mob of grey steers, I look up to the managers who took time and pride to deliver the small motley mob on a tough block because, one day, he’ll eventually transition to a more consistent herd by colour, but the temperament, preparation and suitability of the cattle will be the same. I see an enormous opportunity to use software and other technology to record and allocate all inputs to measure, manage and assess all livestock individually. This takes time to set up and to manage, but the outputs are invaluable to make objective and decisive production decisions”.
Mentor: Ken Rich