By HARRY CLARKE
SOME of the brightest young minds in Australia’s red meat industry are this week getting a front row seat to elements of Queensland’s supply chain as part of a prestigious program aimed to educate future leaders of the sector.
The ICMJ Mort & Co Intensive Education and Development Week brings together university students selected from the talented pool of participants at the ICMJ National Conference and Competition, held in Wagga Wagga earlier this year.
As part of the six-day program students yesterday visited Australia’s largest feedlot, Mort & Co’s Grassdale Feedlot south of Dalby, which currently holds about 78,000 of cattle.
The state-of-the-art facility provided students with an in-depth look at trade and short-fed programs, its integrated vertical supply chain model and the infrastructure required for modern feedlotting operations.
Mort & Co Transport Manager and ICMJ alumni Brad Robinson said as a leading producer of premium Australian beef, Mort & Co saw great synergy in promoting the diverse career opportunities and pathways within the red meat industry.
“Partnering with ICMJ supports the development of emerging industry leaders and exposes them to Mort & Co’s fully integrated and ever evolving agricultural supply chain,” he said.
“The ICMJ program is unique in bringing interested students together to educate and enhance their career development, and Mort & Co has experienced first-hand the positive contributions of ICMJ alumni, within and across all levels of company operations.”
The development week program also exposes students to new technologies and capabilities within the meat industry during site visits to some of Australia’s major processors including NH Foods Oakey Beef Exports, Australian Country Choice and SunPork Group’s state-of-the-art pork processing facility, Swickers Kingaroy.
University of New England rural science student Callum Melton said the ICMJ program was a unique opportunity to gain exposure to all aspects of the meat industry.
“I’m from a primary production background and I had only ever seen that part of the supply chain so being able to see the whole process is just so interesting,” he said.
“ICMJ has opened my eyes to every single part of the industry and given me an understanding of how what you do as a producer affects the final product.”
Students will also immerse themselves in the innovative paddock to plate virtual reality experience at the Kilcoy Global Food innovation hub on the Sunshine Coast and take part in several professional development sessions designed to kick-start their careers in the red meat industry.
At Meat and Livestock Australia’s Brisbane headquarters on Saturday, students met with managing director Jason Strong and were briefed on the latest issues affecting the Australian industry and introduced to the grading systems used in the United States.
On the final day of the event, five students will be selected to the Australian ICMJ team.
The team will take part in a three-week tour of the US meat industry next year and compete at various meat judging competitions along the way.
Australian ICMJ Team Coach Melanie Smith said the Intensive Education and Development week was designed to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the red meat supply chain, the innovation efforts that support it, and the career pathways it offers.
“Our mission is to inspire and develop the next generation of leaders in the red meat industry and a big part of that is understanding Australia’s position within the global supply chain,” she said.
“We want students to understand consumer demands, both here in Australia and overseas.”
ICMJ’s Intensive Education and Development Week is sponsored by Mort & Co. ICMJ is supported by foundation partners, Meat and Livestock Australia and Australian Meat Processor Corporation as well as a range of industry sponsors.