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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2008
page 68 C aTTL e COUNCIL OF a USTR a LI a Y ea RBOOK 2008 2007 Rural awareness Tour - Queensland Rachel Galvin, Policy Officer, Cattle Council of Australia The Rural awareness Tour (RaT) departed Canberra with 16 RaT participants on a very foggy Canberra morning in late July. The first stop was armidale where the group visited the Bald Blair angus Stud at guyra, speaking with Sam and Kristy White over a cuppa, about the operations of their seed stock and commercial angus business. The group was impressed with the management principles implemented by the White family and their Livestock Manager Jamie vidler. While in armidale, the ‘RaT pack’ took the opportunity to have lunch at the Beef CRC, with Dr Heather Burrows, executive Director of the Beef CRC, speaking to the group afterwards on the work undertaken by the Beef CRC. It was then onto the Queensland component of the trip and the flight to Oakey certainly provided the group with an indication of the rain deficiency in the area. Queensland Choice Meats in Toowoomba was the first destination on Tuesday, with proprietor Lou gordon giving the group an in depth insight into the behind- the-scenes of a butcher/wholesale business. The RAT participants were exceptionally impressed with the knowledge and management of the business, along with many secrets of the trade. Oakey abattoir was a highlight for many. Mr Howard Halter, CeO of the Nippon Meat packers Oakey plant, provided an overview of the operations and touring the automated systems in the Boning room and the slaughter floor, affording the RaT participants a view at the first class design and operations. Longreach Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Sunset River cruise on the Thompson River were the light hearted aspects of the tour, followed by a night out on the town in Longreach which saw the Cattle Council/ National Farmers’ Federation win the best of three pool challenge, defeating the government departments in what proved to be a very close tussle. after a short flight to emerald, the goonoo Feedlot outside Comet, owned by the australian agricultural Company, was the next attraction with Sean Mcgee, the group Livestock Manager hosting a tour of the feedlot and an overview of its operations, including the irrigation and cropping aggregations. Of particular interest were the social factors associated with living in rural areas and the employment issues facing agricultural industries. Back in emerald for the evening, the official dinner of the tour saw the RaT pack joined by Mayor peter Maguire and other local producers, including agForce branch members, at The Capricornian restaurant in emerald. Host of the Tour, Mr greg Brown, Cattle Council vice- president and agForce Cattle president, ensured that all enjoyed the evening. The Following day was a day of property tours in which the group was fortunate to have Ian McCamley as principal tour guide for the day. after morning tea with the Rolleston agForce branch members, the group departed to tour the property of Howard Smith and family, before returning to the homestead to hear Cameron Dart, program Manager of MSa address the branch meeting. Following a superb lunch of MSa steak, the group toured new yards under construction along with a look at several mobs of weaners. afternoon tea with the McCamley family included birthday cake and celebrations for young Cilla McCamley’s birthday. It was then time to step inside the yards to see cattle husbandry in practice. The day concluded with a frank discussion over a cold beer in the cattle yards, on issues facing the beef industry along with the relationship between government and industry stakeholders and how that might be improved in the future. The issues impacting the beef industry such as mining and resource exploration and infrastructure were highlighted to the participants, many not expecting issues such as those to be those of most concern to producers. The Rural awareness Tour lived up to its reputation as providing an incredible opportunity for participants to develop a greater understanding of the industry and networks of those affected by policy decisions.