Friend of PYiA and awarded business consultant Greg Mills of GoAhead Business Solutions is a man with deep experience and strong understanding of issues facing agriculture. His intelligence and ability to articulate his thoughts has been recognised once again as a shortlist in the John Ralph Essay Competition where Greg expounded his thoughts on the future of animal agriculture.
The John Ralph Essay Competition is held annually by the Australian Farm Institute in recognition of their founding chairmen and aims to foster conversations around agricultural policy issues. “Given the announcement of the John Ralph Essay winner is the key event in Ag Week in Canberra it is a great platform to put forward your perspective,” Greg says. “The policy focus, the need to present well thought-out and supported ideas, the calibre of entrants and the wide reach of the reading audiences makes the John Ralph Essay competition a focal point for discussions in Australian agriculture.”
In his essay, titled The Future of Animal Agriculture, Greg acknowledges the rise of vegan and vegetarian diets and concedes replacing animals on the plate with other sources of nutrition is possible; but he asks how society would cope replacing the other complex roles animals fulfil.
“Animals do not exist in our society simply because they taste good. Primarily animals have become an integral key to the success of human society as animals convert food we cannot eat, into food we can….. The abilities of these animals to eat the widest range of feedstuffs and turn it into eggs and meat have made these animals indispensable. Likewise, ruminants that can convert inedible grass, brush and other high fibre feedstuffs to meat and milk have become a dominant species utilised in both intensive and extensive production systems.”
Greg argues that the production of animal-free meat products involves by-products, which are typically fed to animals.
“Without animal agriculture to convert these by-products and unwanted end-products it becomes a difficult question for society as to how these current feedstuffs would be used in a hypothetical animal free future for agriculture.”
In the complex world in which we find ourselves Greg believes animal agriculture will continue to have a fundamental role in society but needs to find a way for real engagement with its consumers and customers. “Engaging with the community and sharing what we do in animal agriculture and why we do it is a passion for me,” he says. “The topic of the essay this year was a great opportunity to communication my thoughts on the future of what we do.”
Greg is highly respected by Young Farming Champions; most of whom have passed through his workshops, tackled his difficult questions and come to appreciate his support and honesty. It may interest them, then, to hear Greg’s personal motivation for entering the John Ralph Essay Competition:
“When I started university my essay writing was so bad that I got sent off to a remedial writing support service after submitting my first essay. One of the big drivers for entering was to just prove to myself I could do it.”
The 2019 John Ralph essays were be published in AFI’s December (summer) journal.