The last year has been one that most of us are keen to put behind us. In that spirit, we want to celebrate the livestock producers who have their eyes set firmly on the future. These innovative farmers respond to challenges with enthusiasm and optimism that can serve as an inspiration to us all.
Jason Trompf: helping to improve lambing rates
If you’re a sheep producer and you don’t know the name Jason Trompf, there’s a fair chance you know his work. Jason was one of the developers of the Lifetime Ewe Management course and the Bred Well Fed Well workshops. In 2019, Jason launched Lambs Alive – a lifetime of learning condensed into a training program, to help lift production rates, improve animal welfare and yield more profit. In the face of COVID, Jason continued to share his knowledge through webinars, and showed how tools such as pregnancy scanning, body condition scoring and targeted nutrition could boost flock numbers and sheep profits.
The Finnigan family: producing sustainable fine wool
At Kia Ora Merino, Brendan, Susan, James and Nicole Finnigan are proving sustainable farming and financial security can go hand in hand. On the road to their goal of running a carbon-neutral Merino flock by 2025, environmental measures they’ve already taken include reducing chemical use, stopping nutrient run-off, and planting natives. At the same time, they are producing top quality superfine wool under the Kia Ora Merino brand, thanks to genetic selection and skilled animal management. Their commitment to on-farm biosecurity – recognised in the 2020 Australian Biosecurity Awards – has meant no lice treatments for ten years, no footrot and no Ovine Johne’s Disease risk.
The Finnegans are also advocates for sheep welfare, as reflected in their certification with the international Responsible Wool Standard and Australia’s SustainaWOOL scheme. By producing wool that is valued by environmentally and ethically aware consumers, Kia Ora Merino is assuring its success for the future.
James Madden: promoting carbon-neutral protein
In 2010, David Madden founded Flinders Island Meat, a boutique brand for marketing lamb produced on the family farm. That evolved into Flinders + Co, a meat supplier to restaurants and retailers. With David’s son, James, at the helm, Flinders + Co has become a world leader in its drive to fully offset all its carbon emissions – not just in it’s offices or on their home property, but right down to every kilogram of meat they sell. Through interviews and panel discussions, James has become a powerful advocate for the red meat industry’s role in delivering good environmental outcomes for the wider community.
Adrian and Emma Brown: leading water to cattle at 'Amungee Mungee'
On Amungee Mungee station in the Barkly Region of the Northern Territory, Adrian and Emma Brown have made a significant investment in water infrastructure. After buying the property in 2014, they laid hundreds of kilometres of pipelines, servicing enough watering points that cattle never need to walk more than two kilometres for a drink. At the same time, extensive fencing work meant they could better manage cattle movements. It means less land degradation, better pasture utilisation and an operation that has continued to thrive in challenging times – and revealed the untapped potential of northern Australia.
Charlie Arnott: spreading the gospel of regenerative farming
On his Boorowa property, ‘Hanaminno’, Charlie Arnott uses organic and biodynamic principles to manage soils, grasses, trees and animals, bringing a holistic approach to his farming practice. He also manages the welfare of his cattle without the use of hormones, vaccines or drenches. Charlie has shared his passion for sustainable farming through his Regenerative Journey podcast, which he launched in May 2020. The podcast is fascinating listening for anyone interested in innovative agricultural practices and features leaders of the regenerative agriculture movement sharing their knowledge, as well as recent converts sharing their stories.
Sam Trethewey: an advocate for soil health
The Managing Director of the Tasmanian Agricultural Company, Sam Trethewey, aims to produce grass-fed Wagyu while improving the environment. A major focus of his operation is improving soil health, through both pasture management – Sam has planted dozens of species to replicate a more natural ecosystem – and grazing management. In 2019, Sam and his wife Steph’s farm became the first in Tasmania to register a soil carbon project through Australia’s Emissions Reduction Fund, using the only soil carbon measuring protocol eligible under the United Nations Paris Agreement. Sam says he’s on a mission to help reverse climate change through regenerative food and believes that cattle are key to this process.
Scott de Bruin: raising the bar for Wagyu genetics
At Mayura Station, on South Australia’s Limestone Coast, Scott de Bruin has established a centre for world-class Wagyu. Nothing is left to chance in the vertically integrated operation – they breed all the cattle, grow their own grain and fodder, and have proprietary rations to enhance the flavour and texture of the Wagyu beef. Mayura has also become a leader in Wagyu genetics, and the pandemic hasn’t been a barrier to the station’s success. In April, Mayura’s online-only high performance production sale achieved a world record for a beef semen package, at $68,000 a straw.
Lorraine Gordon: fostering collaboration for a better farming future
Lorraine Gordon, a beef producer from Ebor, New South Wales, has done tremendous work fostering collaboration between Australia’s food producers. As Director of the Farming Together program, Lorraine helped tens of thousands of farmers develop projects to help them tackle economic and environmental challenges. A former NSW Rural Woman of the Year, her work has seen her named the 2018 Rural Community Leader of the Year and become a 2019 finalist for Australian of the Year. Lorraine is the Director of Strategic Projects at Southern Cross University and Associate Director of the university’s Centre for Organic Research. She also founded the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance, which is based at the uni. It brings together Australia’s leading researchers and practitioners in regenerative agriculture, and is helping to develop a more resilient and environmentally responsible industry.