Communication within and between breed societies has been lost, and the issues that are playing out could cause long-term effects if people don't start to think of the bigger picture.
Breed societies in my belief were created by passionate, like-minded individuals that wanted to come together to talk cattle (or any other type of livestock) and ensure the future of their breed, follow lineage and keep records.
They help with administration, data collection, research and development, marketing and promotion, and education just to name a few areas. Yet while they fuel the daily running of the breeds, there is still some disconnect between members and the organisations.
Whether it be because higher levels of management are from an executive, corporate or different background and are seen as unrelatable, whether the people nominated on boards aren't actively representing the membership, or people just love to hate the people in charge, if there is not a united front leading and providing recommendations and communications it is problematic.
I grant a number of breeds are extremely progressive and strong in their governance and relationships between management and members, but some others fall short in this area and it is noticeable.
Breeds take rises and falls, and with social media at our fingertips we are seeing it all the more often.
The need for better communication with and between societies and building a relationship with other peak bodies were some of the recommendations put forward at an Australian Registered Cattle Breeders Association (ARCBA) discussion following the Young Breed Leaders Workshop last year.
This is crucial in ensuring the breeds are not competing against each other, but have a common goal and are working together to ensure the future sustainability of the beef industry and consumers choosing to eat meat. In the end, seedstock producers have the task of servicing and providing genetics for the commercial producer and that should be the focus.
Every breed in the industry has a place and the commercial producer will select what breed suits their system best based on characteristics, market opportunities and key profit drivers within their business.
From my experience, regardless of whether we are talking about breed societies or your local show society, getting people to nominate for positions of leadership or the right people to do so is a challenge.
Whether it be they are "turned off" applying due to what they have seen or heard, whether they don't think they have a chance or because of other personal reasons, this lack of leadership or vision and drive can hinder how the organisation develops or is respected.
Within these groups we see a range of age brackets with different opinions and ideas making up the membership, but on a leadership level this is not always represented.
How do we future proof our societies, committees and boards? Is succession planning in the form of junior boards and sub-committees the answer? Or regardless of how much exposure we give millenials or younger generations, are they going to be dismissed for ideas or a leadership role due to "tradition", age or experience.
The ARCBA Young Breed Leaders Workshop is one initiative that aims to educate, create discussion, help get new board members and encourage youth committee events. The future of programs like this is crucial, especially for those individual breeds that do not have youth programs.
People will not gain experience without the opportunity to do so, and breeds need to be forward thinkers. Plan for the future, encourage people to get on board. Focus on ensuring the development and retention of key players, like some are, and the future could be brighter.