Happy memories, some honest mistakes and plenty of heavy science, all of which led to dramatic change in the sheep industry for the better, have been shared in a fitting celebration of success at the Sheep CRC's Final Conference in Dubbo, NSW.
And this history of delivering impact to industry will be captured for all with the announcement by former Sheep CRC chairman John Keniry of the soon-to-be-released book, Sheep CRC: The Story - Transforming wool, meat and the sheep that produce them 2000-2019.
Mr Keniry told conference delegates the book would capture the dramatic transformation that occurred since the late '90s when wool producers were still burdened by the fallout of the reserve price scheme and a new 'whole of industry' approach was needed that featured an ambition to manage sheep as individual animals.
"It has been a very exciting two decades of innovation and change for the Australian sheep industry, and this book will prove to be a seminal record of significant and lasting progress for the industry," Mr Keniry said.
He also paid tribute to Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe, who has guided the collaborative research organisation through three iterations across the full 19 years of the CRC's existence.
"The CRC funding, in long-term tranches, has allowed ambitious research directions to be set, and delivered, with stable multidisciplinary teams of eminent scientists and senior management personnel, including Professor James Rowe who has been tireless in driving the work and the vision for almost the duration of the program," Mr Keniry said.
In opening the conference the CRC's first chairman, the Hon. Ian Sinclair, recalled a speech Prof. Rowe gave to the NSW Farmers' Association in 2002 in which he set out the philosophical difference that has set the CRC apart: focussing on the 'whole of sheep for the benefit of a sheep industry', and not separating wool and sheepmeat as independent commodities requiring separated R and D.
Mr Sinclair urged delegates to adopt the transformation technologies that have been delivered by the CRC and to urge their peers to follow suit and create an ongoing wave of continuous improvement and increasing productivity.
Prof. Rowe selected two research outcomes as major highlights of the CRC which demonstrated the integrated approach to research across meat science, genetics, animal health and flock management: the commercialisation of DNA testing, and the creation of new digital tools like RamSelect and ASKBILL.
"These successes were built on industry engagement and the strength of the collaborations between producers, processors, researchers, retailers and representative bodies participating in the Sheep CRC," Prof. Rowe said.
"It's been akin to sharing a long taxi ride - we've all contributed to the fare, we've enjoyed each other's company, and we've successfully reached our desired destination of a more profitable and productive sheep industry."