INDEPENDENT Sheep Producers Australia board director Chris Mirams was elected as chair of peak producer body at a board meeting in Canberra yesterday.
SPA’s state farming organisation members also this week elected the two candidates for the board – re-standing director Ian McColl and new nominee Dr Elizabeth Jackson.
An SPA statement today said Mr Mirams has 30 years’ experience in farm management, including managing iconic grazing property Woomargama Station for 20 years and chairing national sheep farming systems research project EverGraze for eight years.
Mr Mirams said the key focus for SPA in 2019 would be on developing a three-year strategic plan to ensure the organisation continued to provide relevant, timely and valuable services to the Australian sheep industry.
“This work will be informed by extensive consultation with our SFO members and producers and discussing with them the key opportunities and challenges for the industry ahead as well as their needs from SPA as their peak industry council for sheep.
“The SPA board is keen to see our new Leadersheep Network expanded through online engagement in providing professional development and engaging the next generation of our industry and our organisation’s leaders early in their leadership careers,” he said.
“At a broader level, SPA will also be providing input to the 2025 Meat Industry Strategic Plan and commencing development of a Sheep Industry Sustainability Framework to 2025 to enable the industry to meet significant strategic challenges and opportunities.”
Mr Mirams said he was looking forward to the role and working on the industry’s challenges and opportunities.
“I’m looking forward to working with our members, the state farming organisations, and producers in developing our strategic plan in 2019.
“We have a fantastic CEO, skills-based board, hard-working employees and solid relationships with industry service providers to ensure we are effective advocates for producers across Australia,” he said.
Mr Mirams has served in senior governance roles in a range of organisations including Meat & Livestock Australia, MLA Donor Company and Integrity Systems Company. He is part of the Graham Centre Industry Advisory Panel in New South Wales, providing advice to the board, and spent nine years as a director of the Holbrook Landcare Network.
SPA said Mr Mirams brings knowledge in governance, finance, sheep production systems, research and the application of new technologies on-farm to combine with his leadership and organisational development skills.
SPA chief executive officer Graham Smith said he was looking forward to working with Mr Mirams, given his extensive experience in the industry and commitment to its ongoing development.
Mr Smith said the board had decided it was time to merge the president and chair roles, given SPA had experienced one year in the new structure.
“Part of the transition arrangements from Sheepmeat Council of Australia to Sheep Producers Australia was creation of two roles – an Independent Chair with the primary focus of establishing good governance practices within the new organisation, as well as the traditional industry-facing president role,” he said.
“Once the transition arrangements were complete, it had been agreed that the roles would be combined to the single role of Chair, with the responsibilities reflecting the change in 2017 when SPA to become a company limited by guarantee.”
Outgoing SPA president Allan Piggott highlighted the achievements and challenges which SPA faced in 2017-18.
“In 2018, there have been a number of significant policy items on the agenda for SPA, including those with potential for on-farm change.
“Major policy activities included conducting a national review of market structures and consulting with industry regarding the definition of lamb and future management of OJD,” he said.
“In addition, the uncertainty around exports of live sheep has also weighed heavily on SPA and producers.
”SPA has worked with the National Farmers Federation and members to facilitate dozens of meetings with politicians and industry stakeholders to outline our view of the importance of the trade to Australia,” he said.
“One of the highlights has been the launch of the new SPA Leadersheep Network, designed to connect sheep producers and people working in the industry who share the goal of driving industry growth and success.
“The power behind SPA is its people, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the board directors, the small but hard-working team of staff, the SFOs and, in turn, the producers of Australia. It has been a great opportunity to work with each of them.”
Mr Mirams said Mr Piggott has contributed significant time and energy to SPA in the past year.
“Allan leaves SPA in a very sound position with a great board, a new CEO and a wonderful group of enthusiastic and capable staff,” he said.
Dr Elizabeth Jackson
With a first-class Honours degree in Agribusiness Marketing and a Master of Business Administration, Elizabeth has held various management position at the CBH Group and in other Western Australian agribusinesses. In 2008, Elizabeth completed an ARC-Linkage PhD studentship to study for the WA wool industry. She then worked at Newcastle University (UK) where she was the Degree Programme Director of the BSc Agribusiness Management degree and published on food marketing, supply chain management and maritime economics. In 2014, Elizabeth moved to the University of London’s Royal Veterinary College where she became a Senior Lecturer in Business Management and published on agribusiness and food supply chains. She was the Course Director for the College’s Professional Doctorate degrees in agribusiness and veterinary practice. Elizabeth is now a Senior Lecturer within Curtin Business School where her teaching relates to supply chain management, procurement and distribution and she continues to investigate agri-food systems.
Mr Ian McColl
Ian owns and manages a mixed farming enterprise at Koorawatha, NSW, producing up to 2000 lambs and 100 steers. In 2017, he entered a joint venture feedlotting lambs. Ian is currently a Director of Sheep Producers Australia Ltd (SPA), Chair of the SPA Sheep Health and Welfare Committee, Chair of the SPA Lamb Survivability Project, a member of the NSW Farmers Executive Council, Chair of the NSW Farmers Biosecurity Committee, Member of the NSW Farmers Sheepmeat Committee and Member of Farmers for Climate Action. Ian’s experience as a past President of Sheepmeat Council of Australia, Board Director of the Red Meat Advisory Council, Member of the National Farmers Federation and a Partner of Safemeat, affords him diverse knowledge of the systems in which SPA operates.