SOMETIMES it’s the people working behind the scenes, out of the industry spotlight, who can have the most profound impact on an industry’s fortunes and success.
Such a person was recognised last night during the Australian Meat Industry Council’s 2023 Meat Processing and Export conference on the Gold Coast.
Midfield Meats executive Noel Kelson received the AMIC Distinguished Service Award during a conference dinner Wednesday night.
Among his many industry roles, Mr Kelson has sat on the AMIC board and National Processor Council since 2015, and joined the board of the Australian Meat Processor Corporation in 2020.
His industry contribution is perhaps best defined by the dramatic progress made in technical and market access issues for Australian beef and lamb, in international markets around the world.
He first entered the Australian meat industry as a meat inspector with the Melbourne Department of Primary Industries in 1971, starting in the export inspection services division before transferring in 1974 to state meat inspection.
It was here that he gained sound fundamental knowledge about the hygienic production of meat for global markets that provided the foundation for his later contributions to regulatory and trade access issues.
In 1984, Mr Kelson represented Victorian State Meat Inspectors in meetings with the then Federal Agriculture Minister John Kerin, in early plans to merge State and Commonwealth Meat inspection Services.
By July 1994, the winds of change blew in a different direction as Victorian Government privatised meat inspection services, on the back the movement towards quality assurance being implemented across the food industry.
Being well qualified for the position, in 1995 he took up an appointment as the inaugural Quality Assurance Manager with Midfield Meats in Victoria, where he experienced first-hand the path of transitioning a domestic meat plant into export.
This was both exciting and challenging, as the company was also commissioning a new plant purpose-built for hot boning.
Now firmly entrenched in the private sector, the challenges would come thick and fast:
- Implementing MSQA
- Developing and advocating amendments to AusMeat Standards for yearling bull beef categories
- Advocating for his employer, and later the broader industry on the implementation and control of E.coli 0157:H7 for meat products entering the US
- Working with Professor John Sumner on a Hot Boning Consultative Committee where the concept of Refrigeration Index was developed as an effective method of verifying refrigeration.
Following the formation of the Australian Meat Industry Council in 2003, Mr Kelson became Midfield’s company representative on the AMIC board, and began attending all manner of meetings, with a special emphasis on the Export Meat Industry Advisory Committee.
Working tirelessly for trade access was a defining part of Mr Kelson’s industry contribution, including his roles on AMIC’s China Trade Group, Halal Trade Group and numerous others.
He has also sat on Aus-Meat’s Australian Meat Industry Language and Standards committee since 2017, and chaired and drove the Palladium AMPC Review of the Australian Export Meat Industry Standards, between 2016 and 2018.
Among other projects he tackled while on AMIC’s Export Meat Industry Advisory Committee were:
- Land Transport Standards
- Development of the Australian Livestock Processing Industry Animal Welfare Certification System. He continues to sit on the reference committee which is constantly reviewing the animal welfare Standard.
- Sitting on the Ministerial Taskforce for the Export Certification Reform Program (2010-2011)
- Joining the SAFEMEAT Partnership in 2014
- Acting as a ministerial appointment to Victoria’s Sheep/Goat Electronic Identification Implementation Program
- Chairing AMIC’s IRC 2 (Technical Affairs and Market Access) committee since 2016.
In providing a tribute to Mr Kelson’s achievements and contribution last night, AMIC board member Terry Nolan reflected on his enormous workload while working on industry duties.
“Sure, he always represented his company case very passionately, as he should. But at the same time he also wanted what was best for all of industry, in an altruistic way – some would say, statesman like,” Mr Nolan said.
Oher industry service awards
Also during last night’s conference dinner, outgoing AMIC chairman Gary Hardwick and National Processor Council president Terry Nolan were saluted for their enduring contributions to red meat processing affairs.
AMIC chief executive Patrick Hutchinson presented the pair with an engraved set of carving knives and steels, held in an embossed leather pouch. Both are former recipients of AMIC’s Distinguished Service Award.
Recently elected National Processor Council chairman, replacing Mr Nolan, was Tom Maguire from Victorian and Tasmanian beef processor, HW Greenham.
A new over-arching chairman of the Australian Meat Industry Council will be elected during the body’s upcoming 2023 annual general meeting.