NAB Agribusiness Rising Champions Initiative

Cattle Council aims to inspire, empower and support young people, who are passionate about the Australian beef industry and to provide them with an opportunity to be directly involved. It is vital that the cattle producers and stakeholders of tomorrow are involved in the planning that occurs today. That’s why Cattle Council is offering young people passionate about the Australian beef industry the opportunity to have a say and be heard by the decision makers. 

The NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion Initiative will provide you with the opportunity to network with some of Australia’s beef professionals. The contacts gained within this program will contribute to your progression within the beef industry.

Through the professional development workshop and attendance at the National Gala Dinner applicants are given an insight in the Australian beef industry, the Cattle Council of Australia operations, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) operations and network with industry representatives, sponsors, state farming organisations and parliamentary figures. The opportunity to broaden your interpersonal skills throughout our workshops will allow you to market yourself and learn how to represent yourself in a professional and clear manner for your future endeavours.

How do I apply to be part of the NAB Agribusiness Rising Champions Initiative?

Stage 1 How to apply: Applications for the NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion Initiative open in July each year. Applicants will need to submit a written application outlining their passion for the beef industry. It is not a requirement of the initiative that applicants have qualifications or directly own cattle, but applicants do need to demonstrate a passion and commitment to creating in-roads for Australia’s beef industry. Application forms will be available for download or by contacting or (02) 6269 5600. 

Stage 2 State and Territory Selection: If their application is successful, applicants will have an interview to select the state and territory finalist with their State Farming Organisation (SFO) via telephone or face to face (where possible).

Stage 3 Professional Development Workshop: State and territory winners will be invited to Canberra on an all-expenses paid trip to take part in an intensive professional development workshop where they will meet with leaders from across Australian agriculture, Ministers and Government Department staff to discuss the opportunities and challenges for the Australian beef industry and agriculture. Within this intensive 2 day workshop finalists develop key professional skills including leadership, communications, media and public speaking.

Stage 4 National Selection and Announcement: State and Territory finalists undergo a final interview process for the selection of the National NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion. The National winner will be announced at the annual NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion Gala event. The NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion will go onto represent Australia’s beef industry at the International Beef Alliance conference and will particpate in key industry events throughout the year of their championship. 

If you have a strong passion for and commitment to the Australian beef industry, this program is for you. You don’t have to have specific qualifications or own cattle to be part of the NAB Agribusiness Rising Champions Initiative; you just need an open mind and vision to help take the Australian beef industry from strength to strength in the future. 

Cattle Council would like to thank the following for their support in the NAB Agribusiness Rising Champions Initiative:

  • Gold Sponsor: NAB Agribusiness;
  • Silver Sponsor: McDonalds Australia;
  • Media Sponsor: Fairfax Agricultural Media; and
  • State Farming Organisation members of Cattle Council (AgForce Queensland, NSW Farmers' Association, Tasmanian Farmers' and Graziers Association, WA Farmers, Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA, Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association, Victorian Farmers' Federation, Livestock SA).


2017 Rising Champion Finalists

Kylie Stretton, Queensland

Kylie Stretton is the owner and manager of Charters Towers livestock agency Northern Livestock Services, as well as ‘Clancella Downs’, where she produces beef and free-range eggs, and operates tourism and education programs. Along with running her own business and building up her growing herd of cattle on agistment, Kylie is the cofounder of the Ask an Aussie Farmer Facebook community, an initiative to connect farmers with consumers.

Kylie has been recognised as a strong leader in the agricultural sector being named in the 2014 Emerald Grains and Fairfax Medias 100 Most Influential Women in Agriculture; a finalist in the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award in 2015 and has received several leadership opportunities including the Townsville Enterprise Emerging Leader and the Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership programs. Kylie’s interests within the beef industry revolve around public relations, consumer understanding and concerns and collaboration within industry.  

Tom Heggaton, New South Wales

Tom Heggaton is the General Manager of Pastoral Operations for Argyle Food Pastoral, a beef and lamb production company located at Galong, in southern New South Wales. In his role Tom sources, fattens and provides cattle to meet forward demand from the domestic and international sales arm of the business.

After growing up on a mixed farming operation, Tom spent two years jackarooing in the Riverina, and worked as a grain trader supplying feedlots as well as other end user consumers with grain across Eastern Australia and international container markets.

Tom graduated from Charles Sturt University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with a major in Livestock Production. Tom has dedicated his career to the beef industry and is passionate about technology developments, animal welfare and maximising growing potential of fattening stock. Tom is looking forward to meeting other young leaders in the beef sector. 

James Pitchford, South Australia

James Pitchford from Keith, South Australia, has been involved in the cattle industry for most of his life. He is a farm hand at Hyfield Pastoral, and recently established ‘Pitchford Pastoral’ in partnership with his father. In 2008 he established a Shorthorn stud and is involved in exhibiting and judging Shorthorn cattle.

James graduated from the University of Adelaide in 2014 with a Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences. James has travelled internationally, to China, Indonesia, Canada and the United States to expand his knowledge and gain an understanding of beef production on a world scale. James has also gained expert experience in genetics through his employment with Wellington Lodge, a Team Te Mania progeny test herd on Lake Alexandrina, SA. 

James’s interests lie in markets and pasture management where he believes correct rotational grazing practices are both important for production and for environmental benefits. James is keen to gain new networks and learn from a variety of people working in different areas of the beef industry.

James Beale, Northern Territory

James Beale manages Bunda/Kirkimbie Station for Consolidated Pastoral Company (CPC) near Katherine in the Northern Territory. In this role, he is involved with all aspects of the commercial herd, stud herd and horse stud management. James grew up on a cattle and sheep property at Roma, in south west Queensland, before joining CPC as a jackeroo and working his way up the ranks.

James has taken on numerous mentoring roles throughout his time with CPC and has consistently improved the company’s operational performance, taking out the operational Performance Station Award in 2014 and 2016. James is passionate about research and development in the beef sector as well as the promotion of the sector, particularly in northern Australia. James is looking forward to sharing his passion and knowledge with likeminded people. 

Shaun Byrnes, Western Australia

Shaun Byrnes is a Technical Officer overseeing Beef and Poultry Production at the Western Australian College of Agriculture at Cunderdin. In addition to this, Shaun is an Artificial Insemination Technician at his company Byrnes Cattle Co. Shaun has worked in the beef industry since 2003, beginning his career mustering and processing cattle in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, and holding various positions in saleyards, abattoirs and feedlots.

Shaun’s range of experience in the beef industry has provided him with the knowledge of the end to end process of beef production, from raising cattle, value adding on feedlots, processing in abattoirs, marketing and selling of cattle to education. Shaun is passionate about utilising cattle in diverse farming structures, breeding, genetics and the effectiveness of sound weaning programs. Shaun views the beef sector as offering many opportunities, particularly for young people and is looking forward to sharing his knowledge and learning from others. 


Aaron Brown, Victoria

Aaron Brown has managed his family’s cattle and prime lamb enterprise in South Gippsland, Victoria since his mid-twenties. He has been involved with the Southern Australia Meat Research Council since 2015, developing new policies and priorities, providing feedback on R&D outcomes, and making recommendations regarding investment. 

Aaron completed a bachelor of Agriculture at the University of Melbourne in 2012 and in 2013 was the inaugural recipient of the Rabobank/Victorian Farmers Federation sponsored scholarship with The North Australian Pastoral Company where he gained insight into the northern cattle industry through a three-month placement. Aaron is delighted to have been selected to represent Victoria and views the opportunity to be a 2017 Rising Champion as another chance to gain knowledge about the industry.


2016 Rising Champion - Kirsty McCormack, Queensland

Kirsty McCormack is a passionate young woman currently working for OBE Organic based in Brisbane. Hailing from the New England region in NSW, Kirsty’s experience in industry has spanned across the supply chain - from working alongside her family contract mustering, leading Stud cattle, meat judging and now to her role of Sales and Production Executive at OBE.

This love of the land brought her to study a Bachelor of Rural Science at the University of New England. Throughout this time, she learned the science behind agriculture and on-farm decision making, and the implications they can have along the supply chain. Throughout her time at university Kirsty has also been heavily involved in a number of committees and programs to further her knowledge and perspective of production across Australia and the globe. Completing agricultural tours through Cambodia, Vietnam and China with UNE and the Syngenta Connections Program in the Philippines, Kirsty realised the ability and obligation we have in Australia to continue providing safe quality food for the world.

Through being a Young Farming Champion in the Art4Agriuclture program, the exposure Kirsty has had with school children in urban areas has increased her awareness of the need for transparency and education throughout the beef supply chain to allow consumers to reconnect with their food.

“Any opportunity to showcase the innovative technologies that are being used within the beef industry, and the power of social media is one step in the right direction”, says Kirsty. She believes that the opportunity to participate in the Cattle Councils Rising Champion program will allow her to further promote and brand Australian beef both domestically and on a national scale.

 Further questions can be directly emailed to Rowena Martin via


Angus Youth International Round Up

Wodonga Showgrounds


Primex Field Days

Bruxner Highway Casino

Australian Institute of Company Directors Course

Find out more about Cattle Council’s fully sponsored AICD course - a course designed to help develop your skills in corporate governance an contribute to the beef industry in a leadership capacity.

Direct Membership

Register for Cattle Council of Australia Direct Membership.

Beef Industry Strategic Plan

A robust plan aimed at repositioning the nation’s beef industry for long-term profitability has been released by Cattle Council of Australia. Click here to view the plan.