WA Meat Marketing Co-operative chairman Craig Heggaton has flagged building strong growth for sheepmeat as his key priority after being re-appointed to the role.
Dr Heggaton was re-elected unopposed at the co-operative’s annual general meeting in Katanning last Wednesday, kickstarting his third four-year term.
A qualified veterinarian and Kojonup farmer, Dr Heggaton was first elected chair in 2015, replacing long-serving stalwart Popanyinning farmer Dawson Bradford.
He runs Evergreen Grazing Company with wife Liz and their two children, which is a mixed cropping and sheep enterprise.
They also own Genstock Breeding Services, established in 1983, which is the oldest sheep artificial breeding centre in Australia.
The Heggatons produce seedstock rams through their BreedersBest Genetics stud, which involves Kojak, Prolific, Poll Dorset and White Suffolk.
Dr Heggaton will serve on the board with five other directors, including Brad Ipsen, Bill O’Keefe, Tom Lynch and two independent directors, Mark Lucas and Kim Hutchinson.
Mr Hutchinson, the former long-serving chair of accounting firm RSM Bird Cameron, was also re-elected to serve another four-year term on the WAMMCO board.
Dr Heggaton said his key focus would be to grow sheep meat in international markets as COVID-19 restrictions eased.
“We will focus particularly on North America,” he said.
“The easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the favourable exchange rate with the US dollar are playing a major role. The joint co-operative with the three big New Zealand processors is reaping huge dividends in the lucrative North American market.”
The Lamb Company co-operative is owned by farmers from New Zealand and Australia, most of whom are multi-generational family farmers.
WAMMCO joined it in 2003 to gain further hold in the North American market and it created an opportunity to take advantage of three processing plants in the US to enable larger carcase portions to be exported and further processed to meet market specification.
But Dr Heggaton said shipping produce would remain a battle.
“The lack of shipping out of Fremantle is forcing many containers to be trucked east to meet suitable sea-lanes,” he said.
“This is obviously adding extra cost, but is imperative to ensure our customers requirements are met.
“On the sheep health front, the abundant pasture season should set ewes up to achieve maximum fertility and fecundity.”
Dr Heggaton said producers should carefully monitor their ewes over the coming summer to achieve maximum lamb survival next year.