Young voices heard by beef industry decision makers
27 May 2016
Gaining an insight into the big issues facing the beef supply chain was an experience Kitty Sheridan will never forget.
The 26-year-old was the South Australian finalist in the Cattle Council of Australia’s NAB Agribusiness Rising Champions Initiative last year.
As a Rising Champion, Kitty represented the next generation of beef industry leaders and networked with the nation’s decision makers.
The program aims to inspire, empower and support young people, giving them an opportunity to have input on the issues challenging the beef supply chain.
Raised on a mixed cattle and cropping property at Dubbo, in central western NSW, Kitty is employed in livestock strategic operations at Teys Australia, Naracoorte.
A personal interest in the decision and policy making process behind the scenes of the beef industry encouraged Kitty to apply for Rising Champions.
“If I wanted it to be a lasting industry, I felt I needed to be part of it,’’ she said.
She completed an on-line questionnaire and took part in a phone interview as part of the selection process.
Kitty travelled to Canberra in August last year to meet federal agricultural ministers, discuss industry issues, participate in leadership skills workshop, and network with the other state finalists.
“We were all from different parts of the beef industry so it was good to get a better understanding of that,’’ she said.
Kitty wasn’t the only finalist from the processing sector – Allison Horswill, general manager of Huon Valley Meat Company, represented Tasmania.
“There are 100 different careers for women in the processing sector – from livestock to quality control and human resources,’’ Kitty said.
“We don’t always need to employ the ag science majors – we have people from different degrees and backgrounds coming into the industry, resulting in a myriad of views and ways to approach a problem.’’
In April, Kitty gave the Cattle Council of Australia Rural Awareness Tour participants a first-hand look at the Teys Australia Naracoorte plant.
She believes the challenges to the beef industry lie with building careers in agriculture to address the ageing workforce and increase the uptake of new technology.
“We need to learn to wield and embrace technology as up until now we haven’t used it to its fullest potential,’’ she said.
Kitty regards her time as a Rising Champion finalist to be a learning curve on policy making and the Cattle Council’s committees.
“It is the best thing I’ve done in terms of being a bigger part of an industry we all have to support,’’ she said.
“Building and maintaining those relationships is important.’’
Kitty was given the opportunity to serve on CCA’s industry systems and food safety committee, and has continued with that involvement.
“I would say to any young person, applying for Rising Champions only takes a minute but can gain you a whole lot,’’ she said.
“It’s not an arduous or intimidating process – I can’t recommend it highly enough.’’
Young people aged 21 to 35 and passionate about the beef industry can apply for the NAB Agribusiness Rising Champions Initiative.
Finalists will receive an all expenses paid trip to Canberra on August 22-24 to network with government and industry leaders, and work with a Cattle Council mentor to develop personal goals.
The national winner will attend the International Beef Alliance conference in New Zealand on October 18-21, 2016.
Applications have been extended to close of business on June 17 and can be made on line at cattlecouncil.com.au/rising-champions.
For further information call 02 6269 5600.
Caption: Kitty Sheridan, SA finalist in the NAB Agribusiness Rising Champions Initiative, encourages all young people with an interest in the beef industry to apply.