Rabobank Young Beef Ambassador announced at Beef Australia 2018

North Queensland beef producer and Nuffield Scholar Stewart Borg has been named the 2018 Rabobank Young Beef Ambassador.

The award was presented to Mr Borg at last night’s Rabobank Beef Industry Awards Dinner, at Beef Australia 2018, the nation’s largest beef expo, held every three years in Rockhampton.

Rabobank Australia CEO Peter Knoblanche said Stewart Borg’s strong passion and advocacy for the Australian beef industry and its sustainable growth made him “a very worthy recipient of an award recognising the important role and contribution of young, up-and-coming producers in the beef industry”.

The Rabobank Young Beef Ambassador Award is an initiative supported by Beef Australia aimed at recognising young, forward-thinking and high-achieving beef producers, aged between 21 and 35 years old. Rabobank has supported the award since 2009, providing the winner with a scholarship to participate in its prestigious Farm Managers Program (FMP), designed to develop the business management, strategic planning and leadership skills of emerging farmers.

Mr Knoblanche said: “Stewart and his family are achieving great things through perseverance and arming themselves with the knowledge and technologies to continue to grow their business.

“Through his time as a Nuffield Scholar, Stewart has grown his frame of reference for global beef production and I have no doubt this will be further complemented by his time spent at this year’s FMP focusing on the business side of his operations. And I’m sure he will take full advantage of his three-year tenure as the Rabobank Young Beef Ambassador.”

After his father passed away 15 years ago, Mr Borg took over the running of the family’s 2,500 hectare property ‘Marklands’, near Sarina on Queensland’s northern coast, initially on his mother’s behalf before eventually purchasing the property with his wife Sarah in 2010.

Following the purchase, Mr Borg sought to spread his risk and further intensify his production, buying two smaller neighbouring cane farms with the intention of growing both cane and feed crops on the additional 400 hectares. Work is now underway to complete a feedlot, one of the first constructed in Australia’s wet tropics and the focus of Mr Borg’s Nuffield Scholarship, by 2019.

“To be successful in the Australian beef industry, we as producers must strive to achieve the maximum potential out of our land assets,” Mr Borg said. “Whether that is through constant pasture improvements, improving our infrastructure or being on top of the latest nutritional supplements.

“So far, by being committed to this constant improvement we have managed to double the historical carrying capacity of ‘Marklands’ and hope to double this once again on completion of our feedlot.”

Sustainably increasing production is a passion for the Borg family and Mr Borg said the feedlot will provide a platform to make that happen.

“Traditionally, feedlotting might not have been associated with its environmental benefits but we’re hoping to change that opinion,” he said.

“Where we are located is at the bottom of a floodplain, with 13 kilometres of levy banks, so in many ways we are the last line of defence for water being released out into the reef.

“We have been working with government agencies to test the water coming in and out of our property over the past four years and through careful management of runoff and filtration through our pondage pastures we are seeing water leave our property in much better condition than it enters it. We have also been engaging in the monitoring of fish numbers and species in our catchment and have seen these continue to rise.

“The construction of our feedlot will be very much focused on strict catchment and treatment of runoff and on using all nutrients contained from the feedlot through crop fertigation and utilising manure as organic fertiliser. Our intention will be to sequester any carbon produced by the feedlot into the cropping side of our business.”

Mr Borg said Australian agriculture had so much potential to sustainably intensify and continue to expand production.

“Extreme seasonal conditions continue to be the biggest challenge for northern producers and we all need to be working towards a plan to make ourselves drought tolerant if not drought resistant,” he said. “Seeing what has been achieved in countries like the US and Brazil where government has supported agricultural expansion, particularly through water infrastructure, has been inspirational and something that could be achieved in this country with the right motivation and investment.”

Accepting the Rabobank Young Beef Ambassador Award, Mr Borg said he felt humbled to be chosen as its recipient.

“There are so many young people who are doing magnificent things across the country for the beef industry,” he said.

“With the recent changes to the Queensland Vegetation Management Act being tabled, there has been a massive surge in young people standing up and speaking passionately about its impact on them and their family and it’s a momentum that I think we need to see continue.

“With so many of us keen to continue to move the beef industry forward, I believe we can all learn from each other and the industry will only continue to improve with each of us doing our bit to make sure we can keep moving forward.”

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group is a part of the global Rabobank Group, the world’s leading banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 40 countries, servicing the needs of approximately 8.6 million clients worldwide through a network of more than 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group is one of Australasia’s leading agricultural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the region’s food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 94 branches throughout Australia and New Zealand.

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Denise Shaw
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Skye Ward
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Rabobank Australia
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Email: skye.ward@rabobank.com