Exploring trends and innovations: highlights from the Kimberley BeefUp forum

The Kimberley BeefUp event commenced with an air of anticipation as 53 attendees representing 4.66 million hectares under management gathered to explore market insights, cutting-edge innovations in the beef industry and a look into the season ahead. The event was a first under the new funding structure between Kimberly Pilbara Cattleman Association (KPCA) and Meat Livestock Australia (MLA). It was sponsored by the Department of Primary Industries (DPIRD) and ran over two days starting at midday on Thursday 7th March and finishing at midday the following day.

The BeefUp began with a compelling session featuring presentations by key industry figures, setting the stage for an enlightening exploration of current trends and prospects.

MLA opened the session with a presentation on market insights and emerging opportunities with Sarah Strachan, MLA Group Manager – Adoption & Commercial Services, Valeska, Regional Manager – Southeast Asia, and Spencer Whitaker, Market Development Manager, Asia Pacific.

Sarah then joined Trevor Price – DPIRD, and Grey Mackay – KPCA for a panel discussion on the latest developments in the Kimberley and strategies for sustainable growth.

Panel session led by Harriet Bawden (MLA), with Grey Mackay (KPCA), Sarah Strachan (MLA) and Trevor Price (DPIRD).

A pivot towards AgTech innovation from a producer’s perspective was led by Mel McDonald, KPCA Northern Hub Node Manager. Attendees had the opportunity to hear firsthand insights from producers such as Chris Morrow (Nerrima), Jo Stoate (Anna Plains), and Rick Ford (Fossil Downs). They shared their experiences with a range of AgTech solutions, including Farm Bot, Optiweigh systems, remote pasture sensing and Stockbook software. A prevailing theme from this session was the importance of understanding the underlying ‘Why’ behind the adoption of technology.

Changing market conditions were addressed by Harvest Road’s Chief Operating Officer, Ben Dwyer providing attendees with valuable insights into market strategies for our variable seasons and the day concluded with Matt Walcott of the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit, offering a glimpse into current and emerging genetic selection tools including Estimated Breeding Values (EBV) and market selection Indices.

An early start in the yards on Friday saw Matt Walcott and MLA’s Program Manager for Animal Wellbeing, Michael Laurence, providing a rounded discussion and hands-on experience on bull genetics and soundness. Special thanks to James and Barb Camp from Napier Downs for supplying the bulls for display.

Matt Walcott leading his session on how important EBV and a visual assessment are.

On the return to the meeting room, David McLean of Resource Consulting Services (RCS) facilitated a session on grazing management strategies across all seasons for increased productivity, profitability, and sustainability. A panel discussion on the upcoming challenges and opportunities followed, consisting of a panel made up of David McLean and Anne Marie Huey (Dampier Downs), Jardine MacDonald (Rangelands NRM) and Ben Dwyer (Harvest Road). The BeefUp organisers appreciate the support of the West Kimberley LCDC in supporting these sessions.

A key issue in agriculture was next on the agenda – station workforce and recruitment. KPCA CEO Bron Christensen led the session featuring insights from John Boote of Drover Ag Recruitment and Raq’s Kitchen. A final panel session with producers James Camp and Beth Schafer, offered valuable perspectives on strategies to retain staff, with both panellists emphasising the importance of a good work-life balance for staff members.

Barb Camp from Napier Downs station in front of the bulls they provided.

The organisers would like to acknowledge the support of Lakeside, Grundfos, CiboLabs, Milne Feeds and AA&P in bringing this very successful event to fruition. The planning, organising and facilitation support of the Kimberley Regional Beef Research Committee (RBRC) is also thankfully acknowledged.

KPCA, DPIRD and MLA look forward to providing another stellar BeefUp event in the Pilbara on Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th May. Further information is available on MLA’s website.