Crowley recognised for driving sustainability, productivity and quality in Hereford breed

Michael Crowley, centre, is farewelled by the Herefords Australia board members from left, Sam Broinowski, Ian Durkin, Annie Pumpa, Marc Greening, Mark Duthie and Mark Baker. Image Kim Woods

Outgoing chief executive officer Michael Crowley was recognised for his achievements in positioning Hereford cattle as one of the breeds of choice at the Herefords Australia annual general meeting on May 14 at Wodonga.

In his chairman’s address, Ian Durkin paid tribute to Mr Crowley who finishes with Herefords Australia on May 17 after two years as a director and 15 months as CEO to take up his new role as Meat and Livestock Australia managing director.

“We are sad to lose Michael and thank him for what he has brought to the organisation over the last 15 months, and we will continue to build on that,” Mr Durkin said.

“We have benefited over the last three years from board stability, succession plans for the business, and continuity between CEOs.

“I can assure you the business is in good shape, and the next CEO will be able to keep the momentum going with a strategy in place, while an implementation plan and individual work plans will keep services going while we recruit for a new CEO.

“Change is constant – we have a deeply committed, diverse and passionate membership and we must embrace change for the future benefit of the breed.”

Mr Durkin pointed to the industry outlook as strong with the fundamentals for beef remaining strong off the back of protein demand from a growing middle class globally.

Michael Crowley reflected on his part in the development and execution of the breed’s strategic plan and focus on sustainability, productivity and quality.

“We are one of the few breeds well positioned to capitalise on sustainability going forward – it won’t just happen; it will need to be driven by the membership, but HAL will create the networks and connections needed to make that happen,” Mr Crowley said.

“A big part of that is connecting with the supply chain. Coming into the role I felt we weren’t connected enough with the commercial supply chain and there are so many opportunities when we start looking and being clear on what solutions we deliver to industry’s problems.

“When we are breeding those animals with a market destination in mind, we exceed consumer expectations, and we get paid more money by meeting those brand specifications.”

Mr Crowley said the breed’s sustainability strategy had been executed over the past 12 months with refreshed imagery and branding.

“When people say why should I buy Hereford bulls there is data and evidence to support that in clear profit driven terms.”

Mr Crowley said research and development programs focused on collating three years of MSA data proving Herefords are in the top echelon of the entire industry off both grass and grain.

“Close to my heart was to get MSA (Meat Standards Australia) carcase data on Hereford cattle so we had the data and evidence to prove what we could do over the hooks. At the end of the day value is determined by quality, yield and meeting grid specifications.

“Quality is what we do well and is the best kept secret. We have 35,000 carcase records voluntarily submitted from central Queensland to Tasmania.

“Off grass our top performing animal was from a straightbred Hereford from a Tasmanian commercial operation with a marble score 6, or 870 on the MSA scale, ranking in the top 1 per cent of MSA outcomes.

“Weight for age is one of the biggest drivers of the MSA index and we are finishing cattle at younger ages than most other breeds, and tenderness is off the charts.

“We will drive marbling and get the balance right without single trait selection – we can continue to drive IMF and get the balance of production traits right as well.”

The annual general meeting also resulted in retiring directors Mark Duthie and Lisa Sharp replaced at the director elections by Tom Nixon, Devon Court Herefords, Drillham, Qld, and Ben Rumbel, Supple Whiteface, Guyra.

Ambrose Kenney, Herefords Australia member services and operations manager, has been appointed acting chief executive officer in the interim. Ms Kenney has been with Herefords Australia for more than six years.