BeefWorks, Toowoomba

I’m just back from Toowoomba where I MC’d the bi-annual BeefWorks conference. This is the conference that alternates with the much bigger BeefEx held on the Gold Coast every second year and run by the Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA).

This was my first visit to Toowoomba, which you may remember suffered awfully in the floods of early this year. There is little evidence of that horrific period in this town of around 100,00 people.

The town, which is dubbed “The Garden City”, is one of the neatest and cleanest I have come across in Australia. I walked from the City Golf Club to The Spotted Cow with my good friend and keynote speaker, Jon Doust, on the eve of the conference and loved the heritage nature of the houses, the cleanliness of the streets and the general vibrancy of the town. Verges are neatly mowed, parks are in pristine condition and the place is generally abuzz.

The conference program was excellent. Arron Wood from Kids Teaching Kids is an environmentalist who admitted he had some views about feedlots that were not very flattering of the industry. Before he addressed the conference, he spent time on a feedlot and in his address readily admitted that he’d got it wrong. Feedlots were sustainable, he said. He was impressed with the low carbon footprint and attention to animal welfare.

Much of the conference was devoted to issues of animal welfare. These guys and girls do care for their animals, not only because its the right thing to do but because it makes good business sense.

Other speakers included 6th generation US rancher, Trent Loos, who does six radio programs a day in the US discussing agriculture and “de-mythifying” some of the rubbish that is spoken about animal production. Ryan Kasko from Alberta gave us a picture of his family owned operation and another Albertan, Alison Sunstrum, talked about the amazing technology they had developed that was helping lot feeders accurately feed their stock while identifying potential health issues.

Entertainment at the conference dinner was provided by comedian, Marty Fields, whose material was fresh and original and he certainly won over the audience in a 30-minute spot.

The conference was another triumph of excellence in organisation for Esther Price and both she and ALFA President, Jim Cudmore, would have been more than happy with the the program and the general vibe of the event.

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