On the evening of September 23, the American Wagyu Association hosted its annual gala dinner, an event marked by a significant transition as the Wagyu Society of South Africa formally handed over the secretarial responsibilities of the World Wagyu Council (WWC) to the American Wagyu Association.
South Africa has been serving as the WWC’s secretariat since they virtually hosted the 2nd World Wagyu Conference during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. At that conference, participating countries collectively agreed to formalize the World Wagyu Council as an established entity. As the host of the conference, South Africa, under the leadership of the late Dr. Michael Bradfield, agreed to become the WWC’s first secretariat. In the initial official meeting of the WWC, held via Zoom on December 10, 2020, Mr. Pete Eshelman was elected as the President. WWC members committed to convening quarterly via Zoom to diligently follow up on the actions and resolutions discussed. During the ceremony, Mr. Johan de Vos, the former president of the Wagyu Society of South Africa, reflected on the inception of the WWC. He recounted how the idea was initially planted by Mr Graham Truscott, who served as the CEO of the Australian Wagyu Association during the first World Wagyu Conference in 2015. This idea was later revitalized by Dr Michael Bradfield during the second World Wagyu Conference in 2020. At the time, establishing a formal entity seemed like a distant goal. However, they encountered Mr. Pete Eshelman, then the president of the American Wagyu Association, who shared their visionary aspirations. Together, they successfully turned this idea into reality, providing structure and leadership to the WWC. By the close of 2021, the WWC received the unfortunate news of Dr. Michael Bradfield’s cancer diagnosis, and he passed away on January 6, 2022. During this challenging period, the WWC decided to institute an Ambassador Award, with Dr. Michael Bradfield designated as the inaugural recipient. This award was a testament to his exemplary leadership, unwavering dedication, and hard work in driving the mission of the World Wagyu Council forward. The award was presented to his wife, Dr. Elmarie Bradfield.
As South Africa continued to fulfil its role as the WWC secretariat, Ms Elandri de Bruyn, who had been promoted to Chief Operating Officer of the Wagyu Society of South Africa, stepped into the role, upholding the commitment initially made by South Africa to the WWC. Despite the challenges and achievements throughout the relatively short history of the WWC, it succeeded in creating a platform for open dialogue. This platform allowed member countries to come together and engage in constructive discussions on global Wagyu challenges. Existing relationships between countries were fortified, and new connections were formed where none existed before. Smaller country associations were provided with the opportunity to learn from more established and growing associations. The WWC also played a crucial role as a facilitator in resolving emerging challenges between member countries, working towards the best outcomes for all involved. In doing so, the WWC successfully built trust and fostered communication among member countries. We want to extend our best wishes to Dr. Robert Williams and the American Wagyu Association board and staff as they take on the torch of leadership and continue the mission of the WWC.