THIS month’s article is my last in the Research and Innovation General Manager position, as I have taken on the role of National Feral Pig Management Coordinator as at March 2, 2020. Because the position is being managed by Australian Pork Limited through a grant from the Commonwealth Government, I will remain part of the APL family.
The mandate of the role is the development and implementation of the National Feral Pig Action Plan, in consultation and collaboration with Australian, state and territory governments, peak industry bodies, research and development corporations, the National Farmers’ Federation, national resource management and environmental groups as well as the wider community.
A long-term plan for effective feral pig management and control is needed to ensure efforts to reduce the feral pig population are not wasted, with quantifiable targets and measures put in place. It’s a big job and one I am looking forward to tackling.
To inform the development of the action plan, a roundtable meeting will be held in late March at Parliament House, Canberra, which will bring together key stakeholders to discuss the work done and progress for feral pig management and control.
This is a terrific opportunity for me to expand my professional experience while continuing to work on reducing the threat and cost feral pigs present to the pork industry, the wider agricultural sector and environment.
Of course, addressing the ongoing biosecurity threat feral pigs pose to the Australian pork industry, particularly the risk of African swine fever becoming endemic in the feral pig population, is high on my list.
evokeAG – stimulating new collaborations
On February 18-19, I was fortunate to attend the evokeAG agrifood tech event at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne. APL Manager Integrity Systems and Capability Dr Vaibhav Gole and I interacted with the agrifood tech community and identified new opportunities for the pork industry.
The event, put together by AgriFutures Australia, attracted about 1300 delegates from 20 countries. In addition to the plenary and concurrent sessions, 38 start-up companies, mainly from Australia and New Zealand, exhibited their wares to attendees in ‘Start-up alley’. For full details of the companies that exhibited, please visit evokeag.com/2020-startup-pro gram/startup-alley
- escavox (escavox.com) – collection, near real-time reporting, analysis and sharing of supply-chain tracking data, including temperature, time and location to protect product freshness and integrity.
- NuPoint (nupoint.com) – live GPS location of vehicles to track assets.
- Farmbot Monitoring Solutions (farmbot.com.au) – remote monitoring and analysis of on-farm water use and demand.
- Pairtree Intelligence (pairtree.co) – pairing any network, IoT device (internet of things) and objective data (including financial, environmental, production and market data feeds) within a single-source dashboard to enable data analysis and improve consistency of decision-making.
- FarmLab (farmlab.com.au) – uses remotely sensed data to guide farmers as to where to take soil samples from to inform land management practices.
- Safe Ag Systems (safeagsystems.com) – an online work, health and safety program to assist farmers manage safety.
- Y Waste App (ywaste.com) – this app enables businesses that wish to donate food to advise local charities for pick-up and distribution to end recipients.
- Zetifi (zetifi.com) – providing solar-powered WiFi network solutions to supply high-bandwidth, farm-wide connectivity.
Some interesting observations were gleaned from several of the plenary speakers at evoke.
Mike Lee from The Future Market and Alpha Food Labs in the US stated for the first time ever, teenagers are spending more on food than clothing. “Food consumption in this demographic is not about calories, it’s more about the identity they are wanting to portray,” Mike said.
To service this demand for differentiation, an ever-increasing number of brands are being launched to fill smaller market niches – the era of ‘one size fits all food’ is over. For the meat industry, this is being felt through the demand for plant-based foods and the development of cultured meats.
Jack Cowin, founder of Hungry Jack’s in Australia, participated in the ‘Megatrends shaping the face of agriculture’ plenary session and described Hungry Jack’s collaboration with CSIRO to develop plant-based patties. This product, being produced by the Australian start-up company v2foods, has attracted new, younger customers who are ‘planet friendly’ to Hungry Jack’s.
With this, Jack noted beef consumption is not going away. Work on a ‘pork’ plant-based product is now under way.
Mike pointed out consumers want meals to address health, sustainability and experience, with 66 percent of consumers wanting ‘sustainable’ food.
Consumers are increasingly making emotional-based purchasing decisions, including considerations of how products are made and grown. The process, which is harder to hide, is now the product. Overall, this highlights that the backbone of APL’s 2020-25 Strategic Plan, which has emerged following extensive consultations with industry, is on target.
APL will be looking to commission work shortly to undertake a sustainability framework for the industry. As an example of the importance of sustainability to corporate strategy and operational performance, the audience heard Bayer has sustainability targets in place that are aligned with the sustainable development goals of the United Nations for 2030, and these are guiding business activities in the areas of health and nutrition.
For new, emerging start-up companies, Australia is being viewed as a good test market to attract investment, visibility and attention of investors in other countries. Investment in agtech is growing, including re-investment in start-up capital raising, but it is still low compared with other countries.
The take-away message to start-up companies includes ‘hang out where the farmers are’ to gain an understanding of farmers’ real needs, how the industry works and that there is strong focus needed on commercialisation to get ideas to market.
Industry leaders graduate
The Australian Pork Industry Leadership Program was initiated by APL in 2018 with the aim of developing and supporting young leaders to build their industry networks, discuss industry challenges and learn pragmatic leadership skills and apply these to their businesses.
The 2019 APILP Course 2 participants came together in Melbourne for their final, three-day workshop a couple of weeks ago. My congratulations are extended to Dr David Lines (SunPork Farms), Rebecca Wicks (Milne Agrigroup), Terry Valmonde (Cameron Pastoral Company), Dearne Cowling (PigCo), Steve Smith (Rivalea Australia) and Rob Bayley (Blackwood Piggery).
It’s great to see how this course has supported your development over the past 10 months. Several of the participants at the third workshop stated it was a life-changing experience and they encourage others with future aspirations in the Australian pork industry to apply for Course 3.
The program is made up of three workshops. The second workshop involved an overseas expedition to Denmark that was organised and facilitated by Ashley Norval. This exposed the participants to international pig production practices and work cultures.
A report on their key learnings is being prepared and when completed, will be available on APL’s website. In their final workshop, the participants were provided with hands-on training to further develop their presentation skills. This involved giving a short, prepared presentation to the group and then receiving feedback and some theory they could take on board for a second presentation, which they delivered later in the session.
Media training was also delivered and a scenario involving an outbreak of the ever-topical African swine fever was used.
After some time to prepare their key messages, each participant had a turn doing a mock radio interview followed by a mock live television interview.
These exercises put the participants outside their comfort zone, but the learnings from doing this were extremely valuable and will no doubt be drawn upon well into the future. The second day of the workshop involved a full-day session on how to have difficult conversations.
While the focus of these difficult conversations were workplace related, the skills the participants gained are applicable across many different situations. Throughout the day, they workshopped with each other to prepare for an upcoming conversation they had each identified prior to training.
The participants were then joined for their graduation dinner by APL CEO Margo Andrae, Dr Rebecca Athorn, Rachael Bryant and me. It was terrific that Course 1 APILP alumni, APL delegate and Pork Queensland Inc director Tracy Anderson was able to join the Course 2 graduates for dinner and share her experiences from being involved in the program.
We spent the final day talking with the participants about what APL’s role is, what we do, current priorities and activities under way across APL and the wide array of stakeholders we engage with on the industry’s behalf. It was especially pleasing to hear the APILP experience has been incredibly positive for those involved.
Further information on Course 3 is included in this edition of APN – applications are now open!
If you have any queries, please contact Rachael Bryant on 02 6270 8823, 0437 651 839 or firstname.lastname@example.org
APIQ Major Review
The nine face-to-face meetings have now been completed. It’s not too late for you to provide your input to the Major Review. Please contact Tracey Edwards from Prime Consulting on 0410 824 288 or email email@example.com
For further information on any items in this article, please do not hesitate to contact me on 0423 056 045.