Skilled staff, transportation and communications are the key challenges for Australia’s pastoral beef industry, according to NAB Agribusiness Rising Champions finalist Kristy-Lee Fogarty.
Kristy-Lee, 25, from Alice Springs, wants the spotlight shone on improving market access, road and communications infrastructure for Territorian cattle producers, as well as skills recognition for youth building a career in the industry.
Miss Fogarty said funding the northern Australia beef roads project was critical for safety, market access and health.
For her own family, trucking cattle from Alice Springs to NSW for finishing entails a 25-hour road trip.
“It’s tough, even to cart cattle to the closest markets in South Australia or the boat market in Darwin from Alice Springs is 14 hours, and that is a long time on a truck,” Miss Fogarty said.
“We are lucky to have only 4km of dirt on our station before reaching the Stuart Highway but a lot of other producers are forced to use unsealed highways that are rough on the trucks and livestock.
“At times it is so bad, a 400km road trip can take six hours – at the moment it is either a plane trip or drive across a rough road for medical emergencies.’’
Miss Fogarty said transport costs comprised a large slice of the final price received per animal.
“Station owners have to be innovative and source out markets, including organic or EU to absorb the freight costs,’’ she said.
“If they are sending cattle from the Northern Territory to a Queensland saleyard without knowing the final price, they will not cover their costs if it’s not a good day at the saleyards.”
Miss Fogarty said improved mobile coverage across the centre would enable cattle producers to adapt new technology.
“The lack of quality internet and phone service is a problem, not just in parts of the Northern Territory but all over rural Australia,’’ she said.
Miss Fogarty said the retention rate among young people in agriculture in the Northern Territory was low and there is also a need for skills recognition for young people making a career in the Territory, which could be combined with school based and social media promotion to encourage uptake.
“We need to grow the number of young people in the agricultural industry,’’ Miss Fogarty said.
“Beef producers are good at teaching but time is money, and government support would be welcomed in this area.
“It is an achievable challenge for a young person to step out onto a cattle station, and to bring home their skills and experience to encourage others to seek the same career.’’
Miss Fogarty said young people choosing a career in the central Australian beef industry were well mentored and counts Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association chief executive officer Tracey Hayes as her own mentor.
Miss Fogarty will sit on Cattle Council of Australia’s marketing, market access and trade sub-committee as part of the NAB Agribusiness Rising Champions Initiative.
“I believe in being innovative, meeting new people and networking so my main goal with Rising Champions is to learn and network with young people passionate about the beef industry,’’ she said.
“It will help me see how policy and procedures are passed, and how issues are addressed Australia wide.
“I will use this time in Canberra to make connections, learn and embrace the whole experience.’’
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.
Image: Kristy-Lee Fogarty believes skilled staff, transportation and communications are the key challenges for Australia’s beef industry. For further details, contact Caitlin Boucher at email@example.com or call (02) 6269 5600 or 0405 567 991.