Communication is an issue the entire industry can take ownership of, according to NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion finalist Weldon Percy.
Weldon, 27, operates Fortescue Helicopters, an aerial mustering business based in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. He believes one of the greatest challenges for industry participants is being effective communicators.
“The beef industry needs to work on is communication. Historically we are not good communicators,’’ Mr Percy said.
“If I said to most of the young people in the industry I work with ‘What is the Cattle Council of Australia?’, they would have no idea.
“Most have heard of MLA (Meat & Livestock Australia) as it pops up quite regularly, some might have heard of the PGA (Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia), but no one really knows.’’
Mr Percy conceded he knew little about the structure of Cattle Council before applying for Rising Champions and is looking forward to the learning experience.
Mr Percy said another issue for industry was the poor retention rate among young people seeking long term careers in agriculture, particularly in WA.
“There are definitely young people interested in agriculture but many are not encouraged to continue, or given an opportunity to grow or learn.
“Often many begin on the ground level as jackaroos or stockmen, but become stagnant or don’t have enough encouragement to progress and learn more about the industry beyond their current role.
“They need to be offered opportunities to learn – there are some beef industry employers doing a great job but it is not adopted widely enough.’’
Mr Percy uses his own mentoring abilities to put a positive spin on the industry to encourage the youth to stay. He said it was critical for young people to have a voice on industry matters.
He was recently appointed as a representative on the newly formed Australian Aerial Mustering Safety Committee.
Mr Percy said aerial mustering was now a vital part of sustainable beef production in large-scale northern operations.
“The two main goals are safety awareness across the commercial aerial mustering industry and to provide a good, honest and strong representative body.’’
As part of the Rising Champions program, Mr Percy will sit on Cattle Council’s industry systems and food safety committee. “The networking and learning about industry politics will be all useful knowledge for my business and an opportunity to further my career goals,’’ he said.
Mr Percy plans to take his Canberra experience back home to the Pilbara.
“The logistics of travel mean it is difficult to be actively involved with something in Canberra when you are eight hours flying time away,’’ he said.
“People need to try and use all the communications technology out there so they can stay connected to the rest of the beef world.’’
The 2016 NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion Initiative national winner will be announced at a gala dinner at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra, on August 24.
Weldon Percy believes that communication is key for the beef industry.
For further details, contact Caitlin Boucher at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (02) 6269 5600 or 0405 567 991.