Beef producers show sustainability credentials with Banksia Awards nominations

Beef producers were well represented among the finalists at this year’s Banksia Awards, Australia’s longest running and most prestigious sustainability awards.

Australian-owned family company Greenham, which has been involved in the beef industry for six generations, was named as a finalist in two categories: the Agriculture and Regional Development Award and the Ethical Sourcing Award.

Livestock supply chain manager, Jessica Loughland, said it was an honour and a recognition of the work across the company’s supply chain.

“We’ve really tried to work in with our farmers and their local communities to translate everything that is happening at an industry level back into something that can be implemented on-farm, identifying where they are doing things well and where we can improve in a way that is good for the environment, good for the cattle and good for people,” said Loughland.

Greenham is also significantly investing in its own operations with a new plant at Tongala, in Victoria, to source about 70 per cent of its energy needs from solar power and biogas. Water consumption will be reduced by up to 30 per cent.

Ms Loughland said the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework (ABSF) has served as a foundation for the company’s sustainability strategy.

“We have used the Framework in how we built our sustainability standards, and we went to our farmers and asked them how to turn it into a set of on-farm standards,” she said.

“The ABSF sets that structure and focus and gets everyone pulling in the same direction.”

Central Queensland’s Leather Cattle Co was named as a finalist in the SME Sustainable Leadership Award for its exemplary work in the sustainable production of beef through environmental stewardship, animal management and increased productivity.

Melinee Leather, co-owner of the family business that runs three operations across 17,500 ha, said she wanted to share the great sustainability work that is being done across the beef industry.

“We’re very passionate about sustainability,” said Leather.

“We recognise it as being critical to our markets, what our customers are looking for and we’re really grateful that our industry has got the ABSF that can be a guiding light for us and be the conduit to our domestic and international markets.”

Ms Leather is not resting on her laurels, forging ahead in multiple sustainability projects.

“We collaborate with a broad range of government, tertiary and private enterprises to deliver projects across our three properties that measure, monitor and report on a number of indicators,” she said.

“We’ve had the Queensland Herbarium out to one of the properties doing baseline measurements on flora and fauna.

“One of our paddocks ranked higher than some of the national parks in the area so for us that’s exciting. Some didn’t score as well, they are beautiful buffel paddocks, but lack biodiversity. This is important for us to know so we can implement practice change to improve.

“Working with scientists and botanists we have now mapped future tree corridors that will link our remnant vegetation and create a more diverse ecosystem.

“But when I think of sustainability among Australian companies and organisations, I think the beef industry is outstanding, so hopefully being a finalist encourages other beef producers to have a go because there are so many people doing great things.”

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