Rabo rewards the quiet achiever

16 Oct, 2014 11:00 PM
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AFI executive director Mick Keogh.
He's played a major role in informing policy direction for Australia's vital agricultural industries
AFI executive director Mick Keogh.

AN "unsung farm sector hero" and founding father of the Australian Farm Institute (AFI), Mick Keogh has won the 2014 Rabobank Leadership Award.

The independent farm industry think tank boss and chairman of the National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) was recognised for an outstanding contribution to Australia's food, beverage and agribusiness sectors at a gala function in Sydney on Thursday night.

Mr Keogh, the driving force in establishing the agricultural policy research body and a key player in Australia's farm policy debate for more than a decade, shared the spotlight with Queensland beef cattle producer and industry advocate Bryce Camm, named as Rabobank's Emerging Leader.

Mr Camm, 30, whose family beef enterprise Camm Agricultural Group is at Bowenville on Queensland's Darling Downs was recognised an up-and-coming young leader and industry professional.

The awards were presented in front of more than 200 Australian and New Zealand farm industry representatives by Rabobank Australia's chief executive officer Thos Gieskes.

"Mick Keogh is an unsung hero in Australian agriculture," Mr Gieskes said.

"He has played a major role in informing policy direction for Australia's vital agricultural industries making an outstanding contribution through his extensive and long-standing policy work over a number of decades.

"While Mick has not himself been directly responsible for the profits and losses of individual agribusiness, his work at the forefront of strategic research into public policy issues impacting on agriculture and in representing the interests of Australian farmers, has undoubtedly had a far-reaching impact on the whole sector's prosperity."

The peer-nominated Rabobank Leadership Award is presented to individuals who create sustainable growth and prosperity at corporate and industry levels and demonstrate a wider commitment to society.

Past recipients include include food and agribusiness corporate heads John Watson, Max Ould, Nick Burton-Taylor, Robert Hill-Smith and Barry Irvin and leading food scientists Dr Bruce Lee and Dr Jim Peacock.

Mr Keogh has been the AFI's executive director since its formation in 2004, having previously spent 10 years with NSW Farmers as both deputy chief executive officer and policy director.

AFI is a national agricultural policy and research body organisation operating independently of government, paid for by farm and corporate ag sector support.

"As a concept, the Australian Farm Institute was completely new," Mr Keogh said.

"It came at a time where there was significant change taking place in agricultural policy and very few dedicated resources existed to really look at the implications of policy and what it means for Australian agriculture and agribusiness companies."

He said the institute provided an ideal vehicle to look at policies coming down the pipeline and delve into the implications for industry.

It was "tremendously gratifying" to have some of his work recognised through the Leadership Award.

"We have a fairly small team at the AFI and I would regard this award as recognition of the work of my colleagues and the entire Institute team, including board members and advisory council members, rather than the work of any individual," he said.

Originally from the family farm 'Wyola' near Holbrook in southern NSW, Mr Keogh retains an involvement in the beef, wool, prime lamb and grain growing operation.

Presenting the emerging leader award to Mr Camm, Rabobank's Mr Gieskes said despite his relatively young age the cattleman had reached great heights in his career to date.

He had produced an extraordinary transformation of his family enterprise and representing many industry organisations at community and business level.

Mr Camm has played a crucial role developing his family enterprise with a core focus on managing the group's Wonga Plains Feedlot for eight years.

The operation has more than tripled in size in that time.

"Without the drive, enthusiasm and engagement of emerging leaders like Bryce, the beef sector and wider Australian agricultural industry will not unlock the profitable and prosperous future that lies ahead," Mr Gieskes said.

"Bryce is a clear-cut, well-deserving recipient of the 2014 Rabobank Agribusiness Emerging Leadership Award - he already holds several directorships on key beef industry organisations and several non-for-profit committee memberships. He has been able to spread his influence and contribute to development of Australian agricultural sector."

Mr Camm is also a director of the Australian Lot Feeders Association, and Beef Australia, and a founding member of the Royal National Association's future directions committee for youth-oriented agriculturalists and a fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.

He grew up on Natal Downs Station in North Queensland and after completing a double degree in Business Administration and Communications at Bond University in 2004 started working at the family's southern feedlot.

Mr Camm is often called on to lead delegations from China or the Middle East through the Darling Downs to showcase first-hand the quality of the Australian beef produced in Queensland.

He is "bullish about beef".

"I am positive about the shape of beef the sector domestically, certainly around the new basis we're seeing in pricing," he said.

"I think we're dawning on a new era. There is a spotlight being shone on agriculture more than ever before and that will bring interesting opportunities our way.

"In our industry, there will always be cycles, but there is a feeling of resurgence and growth right now and I look forward to being a part of that."

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FarmOnline
Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

is the national agribusiness writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
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READER COMMENTS

Hydatid
17/10/2014 7:25:11 AM

Probably the most logical and rational voice in Australian agriculture.....(doesn't stop some on these blogs trying to tear him down though)...congratulations Mr Keogh
Agribusiness
17/10/2014 8:49:45 AM

Well done Mick. Never met the man himself, but his body of work is outstanding and deserving of this recognition. It won't be the last for sure.
Peter T
17/10/2014 8:49:54 AM

Congratulations Mick! The work you are doing is invaluable to both practising farmers and just as importantly as a wonderful educator to those outside of agriculture...keep it up !!
mal peters
18/10/2014 12:51:02 PM

Congratulations Mick, a quite achiever who has made a huge contribution to agriculture. Behind the scenes development of high quality policy from strong evidence based research has more impact on Goverenmnt than all the polly waffle combined. Yes minister unfortunatly is very true. Mick is a standout policy expert and our industry is stronger becasue of his work.
Jock Munro
20/10/2014 7:35:33 AM

Mick is one of the best.

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