Rising star in frame for gong

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Cattle Council rising champion award finalist Lucy Morris.
Camera IconCattle Council rising champion award finalist Lucy Morris. Credit: Cally Dupe

One of the WA cattle industry’s brightest young stars Lucy Morris, 25, has been named among six national finalists in the Young Lot Feeder of the Year Award.

The award, first held in 1994, recognises the feedlot industry’s emerging leaders and is co-ordinated by the Australian Lot Feeders Association.

It has never been won by a WA finalist, but Ms Morris and her five counterparts were selected from a pool of 14 applicants, before being short listed as the final six.

Hailing from Busselton, Ms Morris works as the livestock, marketing, export and production officer for feedlot and quarantine company TW Pearson and Son.

She helps manage 20,000-30,000 head scattered across more than 28,000ha on properties from Dongara to Esperance.

An average day involves waking up at 6am and driving to the office at Australind, but that’s just about where the routine ends.

“I could be at the office most of the day, or checking data at the feedlot; occasionally I will get up at 2am and go to Esperance ... I don’t really have an average day,” she said.

“One day I might be rafting export cattle for China.

“The next I’m in the office ... that’s probably the best part of the job, every day is different.”

To make the short list, Ms Morris wrote a 900-word essay, titled Social Licence and Animal Welfare: Protecting Our Right to Feed.

Her essay delved into issues facing the lot feeding industry, including “invasions” from animal activists, and the risk of being shut down through banning or over-regulation.

“Over the last 12 months the lot feeding industry has seen an exponential increase in the demand from the general public for compliance in animal welfare,” she wrote.

“I believe that by focusing on education, the industry can begin to take back its community support whilst simultaneously, uninformed and unrealistic expectations on social licences can be negated.”

Ms Morris said she believed the competition would give her a good understanding of the industry.

“I think it is a really important thing for young people in the industry to have a really good understanding and across the whole industry,” she said.

“This includes breeding and backgrounding cattle, live export and the lot feeding industry, especially the role lot feeding plays in value adding,” she said.

“We have been expanding our operations in feedlotting at TW Pearson and Son, so it is a timely for me.”

As well as her role with TW Pearson and Son, Ms Morris holds several industry positions.

She is a committee member of AgConnectWA, a newly elected board member of the WA Lot Feeders Association, and the WAFarmers nominated member of the Cattle Council of Australia’s industry systems and food safety committee. She was last year named WA’s finalist in the Cattle Council of Australia’s NAB Agribusiness Rising Beef Champion Initiative, and was recently accepted into the Australian Beef Industry’s Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership Program.

Her essay also urged ALFA to prioritise and “put pressure on its members” to ensure staff were trained in good animal welfare and sound auditing.

“Moving forward, resources will need to be spent on increasing messaging by selling the good news story, educating the upcoming generations on agricultural production to ensure the longevity of the industry is protected... and also taking a hard line on compliance of operators in the industry,” she wrote.

Ms Morris and the other finalists will travel to Sydney for a face-to-face interview with an independent judging panel on August 21.

Judges will decide who will go on to be named one of three grand finalists. Those three will then be invited to present their topic at the feedlot industry’s premier technical conference, SMARTBEEF 2019, in Queensland from October 2-4.

The winner will be announced at the Performance Feeds Pre-Dinner Drinks on October 3.

The winner will receive a perpetual trophy and a keepsake trophy; $5000 for a professional development course or overseas study trip; and a scholarship to attend the next Australian Rural Leadership Foundation’s TRAIL program for emerging leaders, valued at about $9350.

This year’s finalists include Ms Morris, Ben Emery of Rangers Valley feedlot in New South Wales, Kailen Hodgson, of Teys Charlton feedlot in Victoria, Ricardo Massola, of Bindaree Myola feedlot in New South Wales, Rebecca O’Reilly, of AA Co Goonoo feedlot in Queensland, and Molly Sage, of JBS Beef City feedlot in Queensland.

Australian Lot Feeders Association president Bryce Camm said each finalist was “leading the way for a positive future for the lot feeding industry in Australia”.

“Their ideas for the industry expressed through their essays, their experiences and their references have left the judging panel awed at the enthusiasm and passion of these young people for their industry,” he said.

“The lifetime contacts and business networks that winning the ALFA Young Lot Feeder of the Year Award has brought to previous winners is testament to the personal and professional benefits of this prestigious feedlot industry award.”

Many past winners have gone onto strong leadership roles within the industry, including sitting on the ALFA council.

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