7 December 2005

A University of Queensland (UQ) graduate has helped smooth the way to a more secure future for Queensland’s $3.6 billion cattle industry.

The graduate is Dr Amanda Parker, Cattle Policy Director for AgForce Queensland, who will tomorrow (Thursday) be keynote speaker at the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Veterinary Science Faculty Research Conference at UQ Gatton.

Dr Parker completed a PhD in Agribusiness, focusing on dairy industry deregulation, at UQ Gatton in 2002.

Her PhD work built a large industry network and honed her research and interview skills, and she continues to use these attributes in her senior role with Queensland’s peak rural industries body.

“It’s about ensuring that the interests of cattle production businesses are looked after,” Dr Parker said of her job, which is based in Brisbane and includes extensive domestic travel.

Looking after cattle production businesses often means working with the Queensland or Federal Governments to fine-tune regulatory regimes – whether they impact on the supply chain, beef marketing, or business management, food safety and animal welfare on the farm.

Three years after conducting detailed interviews with dairy industry representatives, Dr Parker found herself embroiled in the implementation of a key beef industry regulatory reform: the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS).

NLIS is the new regime for tracing livestock to ensure the safety and reputation of Australian beef in the dreaded event of a disease outbreak or residue issue.

Dr Parker believes the transition to NLIS has been relatively smooth, thanks largely to the fact that AgForce and others were able to voice industry views when thrashing out implementation details.

“NLIS provides the confidence to our trading partners that we have a system of traceability which complements our food safety programs,” she said.

“AgForce has been heavily involved with the Queensland NLIS Implementation Committee which set the rules for how NLIS was going to work. Industry involvement made it more practical, in terms of its implementation.”

Dr Parker, originally from the Sunshine Coast, completed a Bachelor of Natural Systems and Wildlife Management at UQ Gatton before stepping up to a doctorate.

She says agrifood industries are a rich source of job opportunities for young people, in cities and across the state.

Dr Amanda Parker will address the conference at 9.15am in the Main Lecture Theatre, Foundation Building at Gatton Campus. The conference, running from 8.45am until 4.45pm, features presentations from PhD students in areas including agronomy, horticulture, food science, natural and rural systems management and veterinary science.

Media inquries: Susanne Schick (5460 1229).