Investment & engagement with its members and increasing the production of cattle in the Northern Rivers have been identified as two key elements required for the Northern Co-operative Meat Company (NCMC) to plan for a sustainable long-term future. In order to invest and engage with NCMC producer members whilst fostering improved practices on farm, Meat and Livestock Australia and the Australian Meat Processing Corporation assisted NCMC to develop the NCMC Grazing Management Pilot Program. The pilot program incorporated a partnership with Agforce enabling Northern Rivers Graziers to access the highly successful and established Grazing Best Practice (Grazing BMP) program.
The delivery of the NCMC grazing management pilot program was designed specifically to increase the relationship of NCMC with its suppliers (both NCMC producer members and non-members) and encourage best practices throughout the local beef industry. The main component of the program included an opportunity for Northern Rivers beef producers to benchmark their own business practices against a set of industry standards through the established online Grazing BMP program.
The Grazing BMP program outlines 157 industry developed standards across all facets of management of a beef enterprise including; animal production, animal health and welfare, grazing land management, soil health and people and business practices.
The NCMC Grazing Management Pilot Program was promoted to hundreds of Northern Rivers graziers, with 60 graziers completing at least one or more of the online Grazing BMP modules. Feedback received was positive, with participant evaluation forms on average rating the satisfaction of the workshop as 5.65 / 7 or 81% very satisfied, identifying multiple actions they could implement to assist their operation reach or exceed the industry standard.
Delivery of the NCMC Grazing management program consisted of a mixture of one-on-one visits to producers to provide direct assistance to complete the online modules or via group workshops that included some additional extension covering either one or two of the Grazing BMP modules. There were also two producers that completed the self-assessment directly via the web portal.
Results of the various datasets identified key areas of underperformance throughout the local beef industry. Information gained from these initial results directed additional resources in the later stages of the program to commence extension activities to overcome some of these deficits.
Environmental & social benefits of the program are hard to quantify, however may receive the greatest return from the program as producers gain a greater understanding of their responsibilities and challenges themselves to reach a higher standard. Improved on farm practices also have the potential to create productivity and production gains in the longer term to the producer and the greater industry. Advances achieved in the Northern Rivers beef cattle industry have the potential to increase the quantity and quality of cattle available locally for processing at NCMC Casino service processing facility.
- Provide graziers with access to tools that enable benchmarking - with support to use them
- Assist beef producers to connect with resources to overcome identified weaknesses
- Hold extension activities in small group environment to encourage two-way communication and knowledge sharing
- Encourage ongoing benchmarking with industry standards and against previous practices
- Continue to build relationships within the supply chain between NCMC and producers.