My grandfather used to say that there are two important things in life, you must want to get up in the mornings, and you must want to go home in the evenings. Wagyu is going through very exciting times and I can assure you that it is easy to want to start the day.
On taking this position, the board made it clear that the top priorities for the Association are:
- To position the Wagyu Association to be a leader in the South African beef industry
- To develop and implement the new Wagyu strategy (more on this later)
- To assist with corporate governance issues such as
- Operational plans
- Develop budgets
- Assist with the constitution, bylaws, policies and procedures
- Assist with a genetic evaluation for Wagyu SA and explore the opportunity for a combined evaluation with Australia
- Implement a certification program for Wagyu in South Africa
- Oversee important annual events
Wagyu is no ordinary Beef Society. It is a beef value chain business and rules that normally apply to normal breed Societies will not apply to Wagyu. I am currently reading the book on how the American Angus Association transformed the USA beef industry from a “Society” to a business focusing on the product. Wagyu in South Africa will also need to think out of the box and needs to operate its business differently. We are only two staff members (compare this with the other large Societies with 10-15 staff). To accomplish our ambitious priorities will require the assistance from all members. As I see it the two most important priorities for 2018 will be to ensure that the integrity of Wagyu beef is maintained, and this can only happen if we implement a simple to use but credible certification program. The next priority is to implement a genetic evaluation system for the breed.
I have also been fortunate to have worked with some top people in my live. On top of the list is Dr Arthur Rickards, who started the BREEDPLAN system. Arthur was recently awarded a OBE by the Australian government, for his services to Agriculture. Another is Peter Massmann, CEO of Simmental/Simbra for over 30 years and arguably one of the top breed directors in the world and finally, whilst I had met him on a few occasions, and even played tennis with him in Armidale, Graham Truscott, who I got to know well over the past few months. Graham is considered one of the very best breed directors in the world. It is thus fortuitous that our paths should cross and that he be appointed by the board as a consultant to the Association whilst we go through this big growth phase. Nobody is better than Graham on corporate governance and inderstanding a breed association business. Graham has been appointed for at least a three year period, and will work for the Association for at least a month a year.
We have a full calendar of events for next year and have initiated several projects and initiatives including:
- Upgrading the website,
- Starting three journal magazines (The Wagyu Review)
- Get our new office established
- Outsourcing the registrations and performance to the Simmental/Sim office
- Working towards a combined evaluation. The Australian Wagyu Association (AWA) will discuss our MOU at the board meeting in February.
- Ensuring our pedigrees and performance data is of a world best standard. Ivonne and I are both working over the Christmas holidays to fix anomalies that have been identified. Very important is to ensure that the imported Identification numbers are correct, and to ensure that all recipient cows have a breed composition defined with an estimated age. You for example cannot for example compare a Simmental and Nguni donor cow in a genetic evaluation.
- Moving our fee structure to a “cow inventory system” as approved at our board meeting. A cow inventory encourages the registration of all progeny of registered dams. A new fee structure for the Association will soon be available on the website.
- Finalising the strategic plan
I would also like to thank all those members and businesses that took up the Association sponsorships. Our Platinum sponsor is Polo in South Africa. We are proud to be associated with such a strong brand. Gold sponsors are Sumo cattle company, Synergy genetics, Absolute Wagyu, Beyond beef, 777 Wagyu, Landbouweekblad and Farmers Weekly. Silver Sponsors are Certified Breeders, Allflex, Invitro Africa and Kobe Stud. Bronze are Chris Purdon, Atka Trading and Marbled beef. As an Association we will ensure that they get good value for money.
Finally, there is nothing like promoting your own product for Christmas. My son in law has bought us Wagyu fillet for a carpaccio and two briskets, from our local Impala Butcher who sources his product from one of our gold sponsors (thanks James!)
On behalf of Ivonne, the board and myself, we would like to wish all our members a Happy festive season and a prosperous Wagyu new year.
Dr Michael Bradfield CEO