ONE of the pioneers of the red meat industry’s world-leading eating quality systems and a highly-experienced senior executive in the industry, Jason Strong, will take over the reins as Meat and Livestock Australia’s managing director.
Mr Strong replaces Richard Norton who announced late last year that he was leaving the company to take up the role of Elders general manager.
Mr Strong is a well-recognised and respected senior executive with extensive skills in commercial and industry business management and administration, supply chain development, meat science and grading, genetics and marketing.
He has been very active in the past year as the chair of the Europe Union and United Kingdom Red Meat Market Access Taskforce, where Australian beef and lamb currently have some major battlefronts.
He made a significant and early contribution to the development of the Meat Standards Australia program and has owned a number of meat retail outlets giving him a unique perspective into consumer demand for high quality and consistent red meat produced in sustainable and high welfare systems.
Mr Strong is the past chair of the Australian Beef Industry Foundation and spent 17 years managing and coaching the Australian Inter Collegiate Meat Judging Team.
The board of the big red meat service provider unanimously supported the appointment.
“The MLA board is extremely confident that Jason will make an outstanding contribution and will continue to foster the prosperity of our industry on behalf of the red meat producers we serve,” MLA chair Dr Michele Allan said.
“He returns to MLA with comprehensive red meat and livestock experience, knowledge and connections - from the farm through to the end consumer - in both domestic and international markets.
“Importantly, Jason has significant on-farm experience meaning he has a unique understanding of what is expected from MLA on behalf of levy payers. He is focused with a passionate commitment for our industry.
“With a proven track record in building strong teams and developing business opportunities in a number of key markets and corporate environments, Jason was the standout candidate for this highly coveted position.”
Mr Strong said it was an exciting time to be returning to MLA, with many opportunities for the red meat industry.
“I am looking forward to working with MLA’s board, staff, red meat producers and the broader industry to make certain we are best positioned to respond to the challenges and opportunities ahead,” Mr Strong said.
“I want to ensure MLA’s current programs and projects continue to deliver value, but also identify and implement what is required for the future success of the red meat industry.
“Having previous experience with MLA, both within the organisation and as an external partner, I understand the workings and responsibilities of our industry research and marketing service company. I also appreciate the responsibility MLA has to meet the expectations of red meat producers and broader industry.
“Since MLA’s formation 21 years ago, our industry organisations have evolved in response to our growing and dynamic industry. However, the responsibility for MLA to deliver on the current and planned programs and projects remains.
“While many red meat producers and others in the value chain are currently facing tough conditions, MLA will continue to do everything it can to support and enhance the success and global competitiveness of Australia’s red meat industry.”
MLA’s chief financial officer Andrew Ferguson has been acting as interim MD for four months while the executive search was underway.
Mr Strong will commence in the role on Monday 1 April 2019.
Most recently, Mr Strong was chief executive officer of Smithfield Cattle Company, a leading family owned feedlot and cattle supply business. Prior to this he was managing director with AA Co during which time he led its evolution into a vertically integrated supply chain company, achieving an impressive increase in beef sales, company revenue and profit margins for the benefit of its shareholders.
Mr Strong has also represented industry as MLA’s regional manager in Europe and Russia. He was also responsible for the expansion of the Pfizer (now Zoetis) DNA technology business into new key international markets.
He is also experienced at agri-politics and industry advocacy through his involvement with the Cattlemen’s Union of Australia as a councillor, New South Wales state chairman and national vice president.