ALFA: Tess Herbert's journey from school teacher to lotfeeding leader

ALFA: Tess Herbert's journey from school teacher to lotfeeding leader

Commercial
Tess Herbert is best known for her industry representation, as ALFA president, and now, as chairwoman of the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework.

Tess Herbert is best known for her industry representation, as ALFA president, and now, as chairwoman of the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework.

Aa

Tess Herbert is a inspiration to many in the lotfeeding industry.

Aa

TWENTY years ago Tess Herbert was a school teacher with three small children, and now, after 18 years as a lotfeeder and representing the sector at the highest level, she's regarded as a inspiration to many people, especially women, in the lotfeeding industry.

Her lotfeeding career began in 2002 when she and her husband Andrew built a feedlot on the family property Gundamain, near Eugowra in the Central West region of NSW.

After building the 6000-head feedlot they expanded, going into partnership on a 10,000-head yard at Coonamble in 2006, and purchasing Ladysmith Feedlot near Wagga Wagga in 2010.

The Herberts then sold their interest at Coonamble to concentrate on feeding their own cattle in the two southern yards.

They now feed 12,500 head between Gundamain and Ladysmith, and they've branched out into cropping, as well as hay, wool and lamb production.

While she's had a successful career in her own business, Mrs Herbert is best known for her time as the first female ALFA president.

"I had been working in the industry on my own business for over 10 years, so it didn't happen overnight.

"I stepped on to the board in late 2009, and was elected president in 2015, so again this process didn't happen overnight - many years working in the industry prepared me for the board.

Mrs Herbert said she had worked with some amazing women in the feedlot industry, including ALFA board members and staff.

"And in my own businesses, the women who have managed our yards and worked in our teams.

Agriculture must be cognisant of the fact that boards must be representative of their industries.

"We need to normalise women as operators at the highest level, as board directors, managers and owners."

RELATED READING:

Her next project was chairing the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework steering group, while she was an ALFA director, and she stepped down from ALFA in late 2018 to focus on the ABSF, which is coordinated and overseen by the Red Meat Advisory Council.

"What interested me most was the value that the framework offered to the entire Australian beef industry and supply chain.

"Customers and consumers have questions about what we do and the framework is a report that can answer those questions .

Click on this image to read more about the Australian Lot Feeders' Association.

Click on this image to read more about the Australian Lot Feeders' Association.

"It's also a measurement document, where you can go to if you need metrics on the industry's performance over time."

The ABSF is one of the most important documents for the Australian beef industry, Mrs Herbert said.

"The most value comes from challenging some of the assumptions people have about our industry, with indicators and metrics that prove the value of the product and the productions system.

"The process we use is transparent and inclusive, we consult extensively both with industry and external stakeholders."

Mrs Herbert plans to stay involved with the framework well into its next reporting phase, with the project starting to provide pleasing trends for the industry.

Agriculture must be cognisant of the fact that boards must be representative of their industries. We need to normalise women as operators at the highest level, as board directors, managers and owners. - Former ALFA president Tess Herbert

"Some of the most exciting trends have been the 57 per cent reduction in CO equivalent emissions since 2005 and uptakes in the use of pain relief for animal husbandry procedures.

"New indicators last year on the balance of tree and grass cover nationally also show both losses and gains over time.

"The other value in our report is our case studies of producers who are doing amazing things with their cattle and on their properties."

Mrs Herbert is also staying busy with on-farm work, having just completed her Masters in Agribusiness.

She has plenty of help from her children, with Caitlin and Lachie having joined the family business, making them the sixth generation on Gundamain, while Siobhan is completing her honours year at university this year.

"I would like to use the skills I have gained both at university and on farm in continuing to work both in and on the industry," she said.

"While our family businesses are core, the next generation coming back to work with us has eased some of the work burden."

The story ALFA: Tess Herbert's journey from school teacher to lotfeeding leader first appeared on The Land.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by