REVERSING the decline in the nation’s sheep flock is an immediate priority, according to Sheep Producers Australia.
After the peak sheep producers’ body held its annual general meeting in Tamworth this week, SPA chair Chris Mirams said one of its major themes of 2020 will be growing the flock.
“SPA is working with our industry partners to define the other causes of this, other than drought, and to develop a strategy to build the flock.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity at present because we have extraordinary demand and pricing however we are facing challenges of supply in that the globe is consuming our flock faster than we are producing it,” he said.
“Hence reversing the decline is an immediate priority.”
Sheep-specific strategy needed
Mr Mirams said another SPA focus in 2020 will be taking the outcomes of Red Meat 2030 and translating them to a sheep-specific strategy.
“We’ll work collaboratively with our industry stakeholders and service providers to inform the strategic investment priorities for the sheep meat industry, to be called Sheepmeat 2030.”
At the annual general meeting, Mr Mirams outlined highlights of the 2018-19 year, and said SPA had contributed to the significant amount of strategic work underway in the industry to capitalise on future growth and development opportunities.
In particular, this work included the review of the Red Meat Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the Red Meat Advisory Council, development of Red Meat 2030 and establishment of the Sheep Sustainability Framework.
“These are one-in-20-year and one-in-10-year events and, while they have weighed heavily on our time and financial resources, our input has been vital and highly valued.
“In addition, SPA has engaged widely with industry on its future strategy through numerous workshops for its stakeholders and challenge groups, as well as policy committees, to engage levy-payers and to help us inform the debate and the SPA board in our representation of members to stakeholders in a range of forums,” Mr Mirams said.
Mr Mirams said SPA will work to refocus the organisation to attract new funding sources for delivery of services in 2020 and enable it to continue its valuable work in policy and advocacy.
New board members welcomed, others farewelled
SPA members also farewelled long-serving board member Michael Craig and endorsed returning board member Jamie Heinrich and new appointment Allison Horswill for three-year terms.
Mr Mirams said Mr Craig has contributed significant time and energy to SPA and its predecessor over the past six years through being a member of the board and policy committees and taskforces.
“His relentless enthusiasm to see the adoption of objective carcase measurement and value-based marketing has been a core focus. His ability to think outside the square will be missed.
“SPA was delighted to accept the appointment of Jamie and Allison, two highly qualified and highly regarded individuals from the sheep industry,” he said.
“The success of a skills-based board is its ability to bring together a number of diverse individuals from within the same industry with a common goal, resulting in robust discussion and creative solutions.”
New directors hail from South Australia and Tasmania
Jamie grew up on his family’s 880-hectare sheep farm, Ella Matta, on Kangaroo Island. He completed a degree in international business at the University of South Australia, followed by three years working at one of Australia’s biggest meat processors, Thomas Foods International, in the meat export and livestock departments. For the past five years, he has been a joint owner and manager of the family farm. The Heinrichs operate Australia’s first registered White Suffolk stud and a Poll Merino and maternal composite seedstock operation as well as a commercial 18 micron Poll Merino flock. Their core breeding philosophy is to maximise genetic gain through performance recording and Australian Sheep Breeding Values, while keeping a balanced focus on ease of care and visual structural selection. In late 2014, Mr Heinrich was the Youth Ambassador for the Sheepmeat Council of Australia, and has attended the past five American Sheep Industry conferences. He is a board member of Sheep Producers Australia and Livestock SA and is the vice-chair of Agriculture Kangaroo Island. He was a 2017 Nuffield Scholar, studying ‘attracting and retaining young people in the sheep industry’ which took him to 17 countries over 20 weeks.
Allison works in a management role in the Tasmanian Government’s Trade and International Relations unit. Her work is primarily post-farmgate and focuses on finding opportunities and solving challenges in the value chain to bring high quality food and agribusiness products and services to the marketplace. Allison is experienced in strategic analysis and advice, branding, marketing, communications, risk and crisis management and stakeholder engagement in membership-based organisations. She has a background in operations management, food safety and quality assurance, supply chains and logistics, and has a special interest in projects that create innovation, efficiency and value throughout the agrifoods value chain. She also coordinates market access across all agrifoods sectors, working with government, businesses and industry to address barriers to trade. She is a member of the SPA marketing, market access and trade policy committee; vice-chair of the Cattle Council of Australia marketing, market access and trade committee and a former non-executive director of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association.