AGRICULTURAL students and young industry professionals from across Australia mustered at Charles Sturt University’s Wagga campus for the four-day 2023 ICMJ National Conference this morning.
The Intercollegiate Meat Judging Association conference is aimed at inspiring and educating the next generation of Australian red meat industry leaders and attracted 130 students, including about 20 young industry participants for the first time.
CSU deputy vice chancellor of research, Professor Mark Evans officially opened the conference that included practical exercises in lamb, beef and pork carcase cuts identification as well as ram selection and meat processing technology demonstrations.
Today’s sessions included big picture presentations from Meat & Livestock Australia managing director and ICMJ alumni, Jason Strong, internationally renowned meat scientist Professor Graham Gardner, processing sector speakers and a speaker panel session.
Former Australian ICMJ team member, AAM Investment Group founder and managing director, Garry Edwards spoke to participants about embracing unexpected opportunities and breaking through self-imposed limitations.
“Be prepared to go and do things that are outside of your comfort zone, because having experiences in different areas of agriculture really opens your mind to how learnings can be applied to other industries,” he told participants.
“Learning about the success or failure of one sector and applying those learnings to another sector or enterprise is an enormous benefit to an individual’s personal development because it is constantly getting people to challenge the status quo,” he said.
AAM operates and manages a diversified portfolio of agricultural assets worth more than $970 million.
Mr Edwards said the ICMJ program provides an unparalleled opportunity for participants to access and connect with agricultural industry leaders and decision makers.
“I believe ICMJ is the number one program for all agricultural talent not just meat industry talent because what it does is instill a lot of disciplines and principles in people and facilitates the creation of networks that people can apply across all sectors of agriculture,” Mr Edwards said.
Traditionally the ICMJ National Conference has delivered training for university students from across Australia and overseas, but this year organizers responded to growing demand from industry and opened registrations to include young professionals already in the workforce. Participants also include a team of nine students from the USA’s University of Wyoming.
ICMJ president Dr Peter McGilchrist said the goal of ICMJ is to inspire and develop the future red meat industry workforce, and while university students are a core part of that future workforce, it was also important to continue to develop the skills of young people after they enter the workforce.
The ICMJ National Conference runs over four days from Tuesday 4 July to Saturday 8 July at Charles Sturt University and Teys Australia in Wagga Wagga, NSW.
Charles Sturt AgriPark executive director Nick Pagett said the conference was a premier event for the next generation of red meat producers.
“The ICMJ conference offers invaluable agricultural knowledge, expertise, and training to equip the next generation of Australian red meat industry leaders with the skills required for the future,” he said.
The event also includes a series of presentations capturing the insights of leading producers and processors including Martin Smithson, Coles; Tom Maguire, Greenham; Madison Campbell, Kilcoy Global Foods; and Jake Phillips, Angus Australia.
As well as the inspiring speakers and Saturday’s prestigious national meat judging competition, the ICMJ Careers and Industry Expo connects delegates with representatives from almost 50 agribusinesses.
The top performers in the national competition are selected to represent Australia on a tour of the United States red meat industry and compete in a US ICMJ competition.
ICMJ activities are supported by foundation partners Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC).
More than 3,000 people have taken part in the ICMJ program over its 33-year history.
For more information about ICMJ, visit www.icmj.com.au