There’s no denying that feedlots are vital to the fabric of rural and regional Australia, by creating jobs, supporting families, and contributing to local economies and the environment.
But beyond this, there is a stronger, more holistic link between feedlots and communities.
It’s for this reason that in 2021, the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) launched the ALFA Community Heroes Award, which recognises and rewards those feedlots that are actively nourishing their local communities and environment by going above and beyond to support their community, that ‘give back’ and better the environment around them.
Claiming the honours in the award’s inaugural year was Smithfield Cattle Company, Queensland, recognised for the long-standing contribution they’ve made to the education of kids in their local area by connecting students and teachers to the feedlot industry.
Smithfield’s Barb Madden said they were humbled to receive the ALFA Community Heroes Award.
“We recognised about 20 years ago the importance of educating young people about agriculture and the role it plays in producing food and caring for environments, now and into the future,” Ms Madden said.
“From that recognition, we helped create the rural studies program at Proston State School nearly 20 years ago, and it’s been an ongoing program since then.”
As part of their continued support of the program, last year Smithfield purchased two led steers for the school’s show team.
“The show team took those steers to Beef Australia last year and one of them ended up being named grand champion in the led steer competition.
“It was a phenomenal experience for the children involved in preparing those animals, and an exceptional result for these kids to have such success.”
The ensuing publicity from the win, and how it came about via Smithfield’s community initiative, resulted in positive conversations with schools in their wider Wide Bay region.
“There are 35 schools in the Wide Bay catchment who all do a rural studies program and following the publicity from Proston State School’s win at Beef Australia, they were all interested to know more about the program,” Ms Madden said.
“From that, I decided it would be great to invite the teachers and teachers’ assistants from those 35 schools to the feedlot, to show and tell them about what we do.
“So, what started out as a locally-driven project, evolved into quite a far-reaching conversation about feedlots and the important role they play in sustainable, efficient food production.”
Proudly supported by Lallemand Animal Nutrition, the prize for the overall winner of the Community Heroes Award includes a $5,000 cash donation towards a local charity, business, or feedlot initiative.
For Smithfield, the recipient of the prize money was obvious – the rural studies program.
Ms Madden said the funds were used to establish greater engagement with more schools in their region.
“It wasn’t just about making sure the funds went to help the kids at the local school, it was about trying to encourage more field days and more possibilities for other schools to be involved in the program,” she said.
“Our family and our teams are extremely proud of the work we do in the communities that support our business. The Community Heroes Award highlighted so many other amazing initiatives being driven by different feedlots, right around Australia.”
As the current President of ALFA, Ms Madden said the Community Heroes Award is “a wonderful initiative encouraging us to pause and reflect on how we have made meaningful contributions to community”.
“Many feedlots contribute organically, because our communities are the backbone of who we are and giving back forms such an innate part of the fabric of our businesses,” she said.
“I encourage feedlots to apply for this community-focused award, so we can all come together and celebrate the great work being done.”
Entries for the ALFA Community Heroes Award close on August 31.
For more information and to Enter: