Members of the Beef Connections Program 2021.
Members of the Beef Connections Program 2021.

Young industry leaders to meet for Beef Connections lunch

The younger generation of the beef industry will convene to discuss the future of the industry, network with sector stakeholders and share their journey at the Beef Australia 2021’s Graeme Acton Beef Connections Lunch, supported by Westpac.

Launched at Beef Australia 2015, and named after the late Queensland cattleman and highly respected industry leader, Graeme Acton, the program develops the skills of 10 young people from across all areas of the beef supply chain.

Westpac Agribusiness general manager Stephen Hannan said Graeme was visionary in identifying the importance of nurturing the talent of young people so that they too could shape the future of the industry.

Westpac Agribusiness General Manager Stephen Hannan.
Westpac Agribusiness General Manager Stephen Hannan.

“The late Graeme Acton left a powerful legacy and one that Westpac is proud to celebrate through supporting the Beef Connections Program,” he said.

“Graeme knew the importance of empowering and developing the skills of young people and the far-reaching benefits this delivers across the beef supply chain.

“Mentoring programs are vital to business as the leaders they create become a driving force behind the industry and influence its future direction and ongoing productivity.

“Their success will not only create more jobs and opportunities, it will help fuel local and national economies.”

According to a CSIRO report, the average age of Australian farmers is 57 years compared to the 40 years average age of an Australian worker.

The agricultural workforce report states the ageing demographic of Australian farmers is concerning as this impacts their ability to innovate and adopt new technologies to improve productivity.

The CSIRO report also highlights that Australia’s output of red meat remains steady and the global demand for red meat continues to rise, however the cattle industry faces a number of risks that the newer generation will need to help resolve.

Attracting and retaining young people will be necessary to fill the skills and labour shortage when current beef producers retire.

The younger generation will also bring new skills from technology and innovation, creating the potential for the sector to grow into a $100 billion industry over the next decade.

Beef Connections program co-ordinator Barbara Bishop says the 14-month program has been incredibly successful at nurturing talent for the sector.

“The current cohort of Beef Connections participants are enthusiastic and come from diverse backgrounds across the beef supply chain,” Ms Bishop said.

“The Graeme Acton Beef Connections program is about enhancing the leadership journey of these committed young people who are choosing to create their own beef industry experience and career choices.”

Of the 2021 program mentors matched with the current participants, three of these were participants in the inaugural program from 2015.

Ms Bishop said this demonstrated the success of the previous programs and how these former Beef Connections participants had grown to not only be recognised as industry leaders but be selected as mentors in the 2021 program.

The selected participants come from across Australia and from different industries.

They are: Caitlyn Barton, feedlot; Rebecca Clapperton, producer; Hugh Courts, agribusiness; Georgia Glasson, producer; Chloe Gould, processor; Kari Moffat, live export; Caitlin Obst, feedlot; Ryan Olive, producer; Kate Power, processor; and Ellen Simpson, agribusiness.

Mr Hannan said as a supporter of agribusiness, Westpac looked for additional ways to contribute to the latest developments in Australian agriculture and the beef industry, such as sponsoring opportunities through Beef Australia that would help build a strong and sustainable sector.

“The networking and informative opportunities these events create is one of many ways Westpac looks to help Australian businesses succeed,” he said.

“The way Australian agriculture and regional communities continue to bounce back from challenges demonstrates how resilient and adaptable our communities are and because of this, they are well positioned to build on their strengths.

“By helping to foster future industry leaders through initiatives such as the Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program, it’s protecting the future of beef and agriculture.”

The Graeme Acton Beef Connections Lunch, supported by Westpac, is taking place between 12pm-3pm on Wednesday May 5.

To purchase your tickets, visit

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