Next generation livestock consulting

10 June 2016

Emily Sims is one of nine young professionals in the Future Livestock Consultants' project - a new approach to attract and retain private consultants for the red meat and livestock industry.

Participants undertake two-year internships at consulting firms, who co-fund the project with the MLA Donor Company (MDC).

As well as creating a national network of consultants, the program provides mentoring, training and professional development to equip interns with skills and tools to build a more productive, profitable and sustainable red meat and livestock advisory industry. The interns also complete the University of New England (UNE) Graduate Certificate in Agricultural Consulting, a course developed by the Sheep CRC.

Emily, have you always wanted to work in the red meat and livestock industry?

Yes. I grew up at Cowra and Orange in central NSW. I studied Animal Science at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, and focused on sheep parasites for my Honours. After graduating in 2013, I spent a year working on a farm in Saskatchewan, Canada, to combine travel and my professional interests.

What drew you to consultancy?

My father is a viticulture consultant and I like the connection between research and people. However, consultancy can be a challenge to get into without years of experience, so when I read about the Future Livestock Consultants' project I knew it was the perfect jumpstart for my career.

What does the internship involve?

Mine is with Tamworth-based consultancy firm, Agripath. Every day is different – I could be analysing benchmarking data, learning about due diligence, or be out on farms speaking to producers. Our clients have livestock and cropping enterprises, so it is an opportunity to build on my background knowledge of livestock with experience in the broader agricultural industry. The role with Agripath is complemented by the UNE Graduate Certificate, which includes subjects such as benchmarking, facilitation and production. The project also involves professional development retreats. For example, we recently had an on-farm sheep genetics workshop in Victoria, delivered by the MLA-supported Sheep CRC and Steve and Debbie Milne of Waratah White Suffolks, Hamilton, Victoria.

The internship also involves an individual project – what are you researching?

The aim of the project is to develop a tool or knowledge that we can contribute to industry, so I am drawing on Agripath’s benchmarking data to look at economies of scale to see if there is a ‘sweet spot’, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of diversification and specialisation.

Why do you think this internship project is important for the red meat and livestock industry?

The interns are young people who are really positive and passionate about the livestock consulting industry – we are keen to learn and to contribute to the industry. This project is equipping us to be the link between research and producers, so we can work with industry to build the viability of red meat and livestock businesses.

What are your long-term plans?

I want to fine tune my skills as a livestock consultant, and I want to keep learning as I think it is important as a consultant to be open minded; as the industry is ever-changing. I would also be interested in mentoring future interns – I’ve had an amazing experience so I would like to give back to the industry.

More information

Emily Sims E:

  • The Future Livestock Consultants project managed by Meridian Agriculture. Contact Ben Reeve, Meridian Ag:

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