Mentors to help upskill northern beef businesses

20 June 2016

Northern cattle producers looking to enhance their business skills with the support of a specialist business mentor and other like-minded producers are invited to sign up to a new program supported by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA). 

MLA, through its Donor Company (MDC), has partnered with the Agribusiness Development Institute (ABDI), to launch the Northern Beef Business Mentoring Program.

Using a combination of webinars, teleconferences, workshops and longer term mentoring, the program will guide businesses through a structured and focused business change and development process.

ABDI director and program mentor Gordon Stone said the program's focus is principally around “doing business” rather than “doing production”.

“The business focus is wider than gross margins, succession and livestock profit drivers because it focuses on customer engagement and markets, how to initiate then manage business growth, dealing with the associated risks and more,” Mr Stone said.

“Initially, businesses will undertake a stocktake to evaluate their current position and identify the key issues in their own businesses, then work collectively on how best to turn around these problems. Participants will be mentored by industry professionals to help them make change happen.

“It’s easy to go to a workshop, learn all these great concepts and skills, then go home and plan to do something with them – yet so often, no real change occurs.

"The biggest challenge is in the application of the thinking to implement the changes identified by the owners or managers.

"Long-term mentoring means we can work with beef businesses to ensure they stay committed to what they said they wanted to achieve at the outset. Then, when the inevitable roadblocks appear or things seem too hard, we work together to maintain the momentum and commitment to move through these things bit-by-bit.”

The program is also based around sharing ideas and experiences with other cattle industry operators, through regular live workshops and interactive programs.

Mr Stone said the webinar/teleconference component of the program was important too.

“As the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know,” Mr Stone said.

“These will help provide business owners with more information about the beef marketplace and about best practice business management principles. This will help make it easy for them to decide what is missing in their business, how well they are doing and what help they may require.”

MLA’s General Manager On-farm Innovation and Adoption, Dr Matthew McDonagh, said the program reflects MLA’s shift in the way it delivers research and development (R&D) extension and adoption to producers.

“To increase productivity gains in the red meat sector, we have to continue to build business skills throughout our industry, and this program is designed to do that,” Dr McDonagh said. 

“MLA’s recent independent performance review showed there is an opportunity to increase on-farm adoption of R&D through innovative extension.

“As an industry, adoption of R&D is often too slow and not being achieved by enough of our producers. One of MLA’s key strategic objectives is to boost R&D uptake on-farm and programs like this will help achieve that.”

The program will roll out in southern Queensland from this month and then into other parts of northern Australia in 2016 and 2017 including the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia. 

It is supported in Queensland by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and AgForce. Fees will be subsidised during the initial phase by the MDC and ABDI.

For more information, visit or contact Gordon Stone: 07 4615 2255; 0408 063 229;

Information about the program’s webinar/teleconference series is available at 

Information about upcoming events is available at

For media enquiries contact: Josh McIntosh, MLA Media Manager, p: 0404 055 490, e:

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