Beef Australia 2021 is the industry’s premier event for competition and displays.
Beef Australia 2021 is the industry’s premier event for competition and displays.

What to expect as Beef Australia kicks off

Rockhampton will be teeming with livestock producers and cattle fans this week as it hosts the nation's premier beef industry event.

Held every three years, Beef Australia 2021 will welcome tens of thousands of visitors from across Australia on May 2-8 and showcase Australia's diverse beef industry.

Beef Australia chief executive Ian Mill says a host of new attractions will feature on this year's program, to appeal to a wider audience than ever before.

"The event will be as large as ever, with an abundance of new offerings and importantly, a new virtual component should people not be able to attend in person," he says. "It has grown from a beef industry event, to a major event for everyone."

A celebrity chef line-up, commercial cattle competition, and agtech and innovation hub are all on the schedule, as well as the addition of a rugby game featuring a star-studded match-up.

As always there will be a multitude of speakers presenting seminars on topics from how to stay profitable during drought to investing in agriculture in a post-COVID world. A number of presentations will focus on busting myths about the livestock industry, giving audiences a chance to ask questions about everything from beef consumption's impact on the Great Barrier Reef to the future of live export.

The hot-ticket session will be the half-day symposium on Monday, presented by CQUniversity and streamed live, with keynote speakers including Bega chief executive Barry Irvin, professor Dr Frank Mitloehner, Macquarie head of agriculture Liz O'Leary, Meat Business Women founder Laura Ryan and agriculture legal specialist Trent Thorne.

Commercial and stud cattle competitions with highly experienced and qualified judges will run throughout the week, while a separate carcass competition will benchmark Australian beef on export and domestic market requirements, and provide feedback to producers.

Daily health screenings, overnight deep cleans and officials roaming the event will ensure compliance to health protocols. Organisers will adapt health plans as required, and are confident the event will be able to run without reduced capacity.

Mr Mill says it is a huge relief that Beef Australia 2021 can run, because in the past the event has provided a big boost to the local economy.

"Beef Australia is not only vital to the Australian beef industry; it is a major economic driver for the region," he says. "In 2018 it had generated over $85 million for the local community and we are thrilled to be able to deliver this again."

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One of the main attractions of Beef Australia 2021 will be the cattle competitions.

The Nutrien Livestock Stud Cattle Competition judging will occur over three days from Tuesday, May 4 to Thursday, May 6, with the champions paraded at the end of the day on Thursday. The class categories are split by sex into calves, juniors and seniors.

Nutrien Livestock is also sponsoring the commercial cattle competition. Judging commences on Sunday, May 2 and the champions will be announced on Monday, May 3. Classes are split into grass-fed and grain-fed and are then further categorised based on weight, teeth and market for which they are suitable.

There is also a Young Commercial Judges Competition and a Young Stud Judges Competition, open to entrants aged 11 to 20.

Matt Cooney from Cann Valley Lowlines as a 15-year-old.
Matt Cooney from Cann Valley Lowlines as a 15-year-old.

Cann Valley Lowlines stud owner Matt Cooney will be heading to Beef Australia 2021 from his Tallygaroopna base in Victoria, along with his aunt, Vicki Gilbert, who runs Rotherwood Lowline Stud at Grand Ridge, Victoria, to compete in the stud cattle competition. Cooney and Gilbert are taking 14 animals to Rockhampton and showing eight of them.

Cooney said they liked to take calves, heifers, cows and bulls in order to cover all the categories of the competition.

Cooney and Gilbert also attended Beef Australia 2018 to compete in the stud cattle competition where Cann Valley won Grand Champion Lowline Female and Rotherwood won Grand Champion Lowline Male.

Cooney said a significant reason for going to the competition was to "get our genetics up to Queensland".

"Queensland has a very small genetic pool of Lowlines" so it was a good opportunity to promote the breed.

He said Beef Australia was such a "prestigious event" and it was "nice to have an event that's dedicated to beef", even if the journey was a long 26 hours in the truck.

The Weekly Times and AgJournal are teaming up with Australia's leading livestock online auction provider, AuctionsPlus, to present the Beef Brekkie Show during Beef Australia 2021.

Presented live at the AuctionsPlus pavilion and broadcast through, the Beef Brekkie Show will host industry leaders to look at beef trends, investment scenarios and gaze into the future of Australian agriculture.

Presented by The Weekly Times and AgJournal editor Ed Gannon and The Weekly Times Focus editor James Wagstaff, Beef Brekkie will be live on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during Beef Australia from 8am.

Guests will include Meat and Livestock managing director Jason Strong, CBRE agribusiness head David Goodfellow, Rural Investment Corporation chief executive Bruce King and CommBank Queensland agri head Kerry McGowan.

Also presented live on Monday will be the Beef Australia Symposium - a half-day seminar hosted by CQUniversity and this year focusing on the theme of leadership.

Beef Australia symposium and seminar chairwoman Sarah Becker says five keynote speakers will provide plenty of insight into the future of the industry.

"We chose leadership as a theme before COVID-19, but then thought it's even more fitting as we deal with the fallout of it," she says.

"When picking the speakers we wanted to ensure a mix of local, international, within-industry and out-of-industry voices and speakers that people may not have heard before as well."

Following the symposium will be six myth-busting sessions looking at the truth about some of beef's most controversial topics.

These include red meat's dietary breakdown from international guest Brian Saunders and a deep dive into the truth about the beef industry's impact on the Great Barrier Reef.

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