The future of hamburgers, lamb demand, animal welfare, African Swine Flu and red meat- a good news story: 2020 USA Team trip reports

The future of hamburgers, lamb demand, animal welfare, African Swine Flu and red meat- a good news story: 2020 USA Team trip reports

Since 1991 the Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging Association Inc. (ICMJ) has been sending a team to tour and compete in the USA. Whilst initially the competition was the primary focus of the trip, the program has developed as a tour which has the core focus to educate the participants on the US industry; it’s impact, threats and opportunities. Providing an avenue to enthuse and educate the participants, allowing the group to springboard their careers into the Australian livestock industries.

Over 130 individuals have represented Australia on the US tour and are now established throughout the Australian red meat industry. The ICMJ committee and alumni express their deepest gratitude to Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) for their extended support of the program, which allows the development of these young industry leaders.

The 2020 ICMJ US tour spanned across four weeks, seven states, two competitions and over 50 industry tours, which showed the broad spectrum of the US red meat supply chain. The 2020 Australian National team consisted of Kieran Smith and Claire Mariott (University of New England), Hamish Fuller and Priscilla Evans (University of Sydney), and Margo Sullivan (Marcus Oldham Collage). The team was coached by Nick van den Berg, from MEQ Probe and Dr. Melanie Smith from the University of Sydney.

Every year the program is developed and expanded to provide opportunity to see a comprehensive cross section of the US meat industry. This year, new visits included the Gonzales Salebarn, Quin Sabe Feeders, Timber Creek Veterinary and Cloning Clinic, Seaboard Foods, Guymon Pork Processors, West Bijou ranch, and Cargill Innovation Center. The tour also included a revisit to sites that previous ICMJ US tour groups had visited including; Garden City Collage, visiting with Temple Gardin at Colorado State University, the Meat Animal Research Center and Cargill Fort Worth Grind.

The team competed at both the Southwestern Invitational (Lubbock, Texas) and the National Western Stock Show (Greeley, Colorado). Participation in these competitions and the training involved, provided the students with practical understanding and skills of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) beef and lamb grading as well as carcass payment and feedback systems. The team was successful again at the National Western winning lamb judging for the fifth year in a row and taking home Reserve Champion Overall High Team. With second and third high individuals in Claire Marriott and Margo Sullivan.


Following their trip, each student is required to complete a report on an area of their choice. The below are trip reports from the 2020 Australian National Meat Judging team:

What is the Future of the Burger? By Keiran Smith
Selling the good news story about red meat: challenges and solutions. By Priscella Evans
Where does African swine fever leave Australian and US pork meat markets? By Hamish Fuller
Welfare in the red meat industry – Challenges to producer adoption of best practice and standards variation. By Margo Sullivan
Lamb: The Other Red Meat. By Claire Marriott