By ROGER DESAILLY
A NEW future focused era for leadership in the Australian grassfed beef cattle industry is about to begin.
The announcement of the seven elected directors of the restructured Cattle Australia Board (previously the Cattle Council of Australia) has been keenly anticipated for some time.
With the subsequent election of beef industry veteran and change advocate David Foote as the inaugural Chairman of the new entity, the wait is over.
Representing a broad cross section of beef industry backgrounds, skills and experience the new Board and Chairman have hit the ground running with a series of meetings in Brisbane aimed at addressing an agenda of reform, renewal and outreach.
A beef producer from Mt Kilcoy in the Somerset region, David has held senior executive roles with Australian Country Choice, Australia’s largest vertically integrated and family-owned beef supply chain operation for the past 20 plus years.
With several decades of experience across the beef production, processing, retail, feedlot, policy development and export sectors under his belt, David has also often taken on envelope pushing industry leadership roles.
He has been credited for being both a vocal and articulate advocate for innovation, technology uptake and the benefits that can accrue from the creation of a stronger and more united voice for the beef sector.
Successfully negotiating the complexities and challenges of change management and bringing people together for a common purpose have been hallmarks of his previous leadership roles, and these will be some of the skills he will no doubt draw upon in the months ahead.
“We have a responsibility to every grassfed beef cattle producer to make Cattle Australia a success and deliver on its mission – to be the voice of grassfed cattle producers, leading the cattle industry to a stronger, more sustainable future.” Foote said.
“Cattle Australia is a democratic organisation, and its inaugural Board is well-experienced and one of high calibre. It shows that our industry is serious about putting the right people in the right places to move our industry forward.
Susan McDonald, Senator for Queensland and Shadow Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and strong advocate for grassfed beef cattle producers, the wider beef sector and the agriculture industry, believes that the launch of Cattle Australia will help to unlock the full potential of Australia’s agriculture sector as it drives toward its ambitious $100 billion by 2030 target.
Attending the official launch of the new Cattle Australia entity at Queensland’s Parliament House earlier this week, Senator McDonald reflected on the upbeat mood of the assembled industry leaders on hand to raise a glass to its success.
“I congratulate David, Deputy Chair Garry Edwards and the new Board of Directors of Cattle Australia on their election.
I am looking forward to seeing the grassfed beef cattle industry go from strength to strength and build upon the strong foundations set by the previous Cattle Council of Australia over many years.
Having worked with several of the new Directors in various roles I know that they will govern in the best interests of all members, and the new Board will meet the challenges that lie ahead and make the most of new opportunities that will arise for all grassfed beef cattle producers, both large and small”.
Mitchell based beef producer, AgForce Director and Cattle Australia Policy Council member Bim Struss, a long-time proponent of the view that good policy should start in the paddock and then flow up to the boardroom, also sees some blue sky ahead for this sector as a result of this renewal process.
“I have full confidence that many of the challenges facing the beef industry can now be better addressed as a result of the harnessing of our collective resources, goodwill and emerging technologies that combined, will reinforce our industry position as a powerhouse of sustainable, ethical, innovative and agile protein production.
Under David’s leadership the new board will, I believe, generate a renewed energy within the beef sector, a united voice to policy makers and a more engaged membership. These are outcomes that will resonate with the wider agriculture industry, the beef consumer and government, and ultimately benefit us all”
Some water is still to flow under the bridge between the old and the new that is Cattle Australia, including the securing of a sustainable and future proofed funding model and the recruiting of a strong management team.
However, it seems that the underlying current of support is strong and determined to find a way through to calmer waters, an outcome that should be welcomed and applauded by all in the beef sector.