It is inspiring to note a record number of entries to ALFA's Young Lot Feeder of the Year Award for 2021.
Nineteen lot feeders have put up their hand and are hungry to make their mark on the grain-fed beef sector - and push their career potential.
The winner will be revealed at the virtual SmartBeef 2021 Conference on October 20, along with the result of ALFA's Innovation and Excellence in Feedlot Education Medal.
Writing from "locked-down" New South Wales, it can be challenging to plan ahead when the playing field is constantly changing.
But one thing is for sure, and that is our sector is working hard - and even stepping up its efforts - to continue to deliver the best beef in the world to consumers.
This is occurring despite the logistic challenges of a COVID-19-restricted world.
ALFA's team continues to assist lot feeders in any way we can.
This ranges from ensuring lot feeders are aware of state-based changes that affect operating conditions, to running webinars and ensuring training continues to be offered.
With a critical labour shortfall looming, ALFA has initiated a national careers and training platform to help our industry attract the right people to the workforce.
We are also ensuring that there are opportunities to recognise and reward individuals and businesses that display excellency in their fields.
This year, ALFA has been able to forge ahead with its Recognition of Excellence Program.
We have introduced a new Community Heroes Award, which has attracted several feedlot entries for recognition of social and environmental initiatives.
These include: efforts to encourage increased attendance at local shows; providing opportunities to students and teachers to learn more about feedlots; and creating innovations that protect communities, the environment and valuable water resources.
Alongside this, ALFA has revamped a new-look Australian Feedlot of the Year Competition.
This has had huge interest and 35 entries have been submitted, which is one of the highest levels on record.
The Feedlot of the Year competition demonstrates the lot feeding sector's strong commitment to operating within robust quality management systems and continually improving and innovating.
I commend all the entrants this year for stepping up and daring to inspire, with a sense of continual advancement - despite the trying times.
I am very excited to discover who the winners will be in October.
If you would like to stay up-to-date with industry matters, receive the valuable tools and resources ALFA develops for lot feeders, or maybe you've been inspired to enter an industry award in 2022, now is a great time to apply for ALFA Membership so you can take advantage of these.
We offer an exclusive 10 per cent discount to all NFAS Feedlots on their first-year membership fees.
To view the full membership benefits and to apply, head to the ALFA website.