Leadership, vison and humility were the standout qualities that resulted in Charlie Perry taking out the 2022 Australian Zanda McDonald Award, presented in Orange, NSW.
Mr Perry, who lives and works on his family owned and operated Wagyu beef farm at Guyra, in NSW's Northern Tablelands, returned to his passion for agriculture after a successful career in business consulting, and hasn't looked back.
Since taking over management in 2016, he's overseen substantial growth in their family business, despite some of the worst years of drought on record, with a focus on productivity gains, genetic indicators and sustainability.
He also serves as president and chair of the Australian Wagyu Association (AWA).
The Zanda McDonald Award, now in its eighth year, supports talented and passionate young professionals in the agricultural sector from Australia and New Zealand.
As the Australian 2022 winner, Mr Perry will receive a professional development package that includes an all-expenses paid trans-Tasman mentoring trip to high-performing farms and businesses in Australia and New Zealand, $10,000 towards further education, and incredible networking opportunities.
"Charlie demonstrates all the key qualities that epitomises the Award, which stood him above an outstanding field of finalists," said Zanda McDonald Award chair Richard Rains.
"His passion for agriculture is obvious, and has resulted in him significantly growing his family seedstock business, while being active in both his local community and industry associations."
"He has a clear understanding of the challenges that face both his business and the industry, and is providing cohesion and leadership through his involvement in the AWA.
"Charlie is an accomplished communicator, yet at the same time, humble, and as judges, we're really excited about his future."
Mr Perry was thrilled with the award and said he was honoured to have the opportunity.
"The trans-Tasman mentoring trip in particular will be of huge assistance to me and I know I'll learn so much from that experience both personally and professionally," he said.
"I'm keen to use the $10,000 education package to align with my skills gaps and growth and also to improve my social media skills, so I can play an influential role through the stories I share and the work we do."
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The Orange segment of the award follwed the New Zealand award a week prior, which was awarded to Rhys Roberts, the chief executive of market garden and farm operation Align Farms, NZ. Align Farms owns and operates seven farms in the country's mid Canterbury region.
Mr Perry was named a finalist in the Australian award alongside Kate McBride, 23, fifth generation farmer and station hand at Tolarno Station near Menindee in far west NSW and researcher at The Australia Institute; Gavin Rodman, 28, from Cairns, Qld, and who works as district manager - Far North, Sugar Research Australia; and, Jeremy Cummins, 34, who is the owner and manager for feedlot and backgrounding business Bottlejac Trading Company, Gunnedah in North West NSW.
Mr Roberts, meanwhile, will travel by a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft to parts of his mentoring trip, enabling him to reach diverse and remote farming operations on both sides of the Tasman.
The award would normally crown one winner from across Australasia, but in response to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, an Australian and a New Zealand winner have been crowned this year.
The award is presented in honour of Zanda McDonald, who was a prominent identity in the Australian beef and livestock industry and a foundation member of the PPP Group (Platinum Primary Producers), which now includes 150 of Australia and New Zealand's top rural leaders.
Zanda McDonald died in April 2013 at the age of 41, following a tragic accident on his Queensland cattle property.
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