Twenty-eight-year-old James Bryan is this year’s Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) beef industry ambassador at the Five Nations Beef Alliance conference and young leaders programme in the United States.
James beat 13 other applicants to win the B+LNZ scholarship, which is now in its fourth year. The scholarship – which covers the full cost of conference attendance and travel – is offered annually to New Zealanders aged 22 to 32, who are working in and have a passion for the beef industry.
The Five Nations Beef Alliance is a private entity involving the national organisations that represent beef cattle producers in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the US. It develops strategies to encourage growth in global beef trading, while also addressing any mutual concerns.
The young leaders programme brings young beef producers together through a series of visits to farms, feedlots and sales yards. They also attend the conference and round-table sessions to observe how producer representative organisations work.
This year’s conference and young leaders programme take place in Corpus Christi and Austin, Texas from 4-11 October.
James grew up on a 660 hectare sheep and beef property at Aria, in the King Country. The farm runs 150 Hereford-Angus cross breeding cows and 2,500 ewes, as a breeding and finishing unit. He plays an active role in the management strategy for the family farm and regularly returns home to work alongside his parents. James plans to eventually return to the farm, while also pursuing an off-farm career in agricultural consultancy.
No stranger to being a reliable representative, James is heavily involved in Young Farmers New Zealand – both as a committee member for the Waikato/Bay of Plenty branch and as a regular competitor in fencing and debating competitions – and is vice chairman of the Maihiihi-Mangatutu dog trial club. He also represented New Zealand in 2012, after being selected to attend an agricultural exchange to Japan.
James completed an agricultural commerce degree at Lincoln University and was also a Smedley Station cadet, prior to his university studies. He is now working for Ravensdown Fertiliser as an agronomy technical manager.
He says the scholarship and opportunity to see how other beef producing nations operate was too good to pass over. “The future is bright for protein farmers in general – whether that be milk or meat. But I believe the industry needs to be a lot more collaborative if we are to get the best prices on the world market. We need to move the production bell curve and lift some of the lower-producing farmers.”
James says he is a pretty good vessel for information. “I will extend the knowledge I pick up, out to farmers through my job and by being available to speak to groups of farmers. My work on farms every day is ideal, as it’s a good way to get information out there.”
B+LNZ sector capacity project manager Doug Macredie says James’ ongoing connection to actual farming – through his input to the family farm’s direction – impressed the selection panel.
“James has a vision – to blend the expertise he is developing through his Ravensdown work, into a farm adviser type role, while still being active in the management of the family farm. He sees a wide range of farms and approaches to farming and pasture management. He then uses the knowledge he gains from farm A to assist farm B, so to speak. This really struck a chord with the selection panel and made James’ application stand out.”