STILL working with sheep and advising WA farmers at age 84, James Robert (Bob) Hall, Darkan, was recognised for significant service to the wool industry and agricultural sector in the Queen's Birthday Honours on Monday.
Mr Hall, who has been a Darkan-based agricultural consultant specialising in sheep for more than 50 years, was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen's Birthday 2019 Honours list.
Apart from consulting, in 2013 he co-authored the book Sheep: the simple guide to making more money with less work and in the 1970s compered and helped produce content for two four-part ABC television series, titled The Sheep's Back and The Sheep Machine.
A foundation member of the Australian Merino Society in 1976 and later made a life member after serving 15 years on its executive, Mr Hall was instrumental in founding the first of three ram breeding co-operatives in WA.
He also co-founded and was State secretary and treasurer of the WA branch of the Federation of Performance Sheep Breeders and he also founded, was administrator and the federation's representative on the Yardstick Central Sire Evaluation Scheme in WA, which is now delivered in conjunction with the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development and its Katanning research facility.
Mr Hall also helped establish and was quality manager of the Darkan Wool Marketing Group - now Compass Agricultural Alliance - which in 1997 became the first farmer group to achieve ISO 9002 accreditation for wool production and marketing.
He is also a past secretary of Darkan Farm Management Advisory Services and a former Darkan Community Sporting Club treasurer.
Born in England, Mr Hall studied agriculture and graduated with honours from the University of Wales then worked with sheep in the Lakes District in the north before moving to Leicestershire in the Midlands and switching to dairy consulting.
In 1966 at age 31, he answered an advertisement seeking an agricultural consultant to work at Darkan in WA where he settled and formed JRL Hall & Co farm management consultants.
In the early 1970s he ran one of the first comparative wether trials in WA.
Also in the early 70s, before wool testing became a widely used tool and most wool appraisal was still visual and by touch, he developed a local wool testing service to ram-producing clients, promoting the message of measurement and testing to all local ram breeders.
In conjunction with Wool Agency Co Pty Ltd, Mr Hall helped develop a wool clip analysis which is still a leader in its content and utility.
He also worked with the Kondinin Group co-operative on efficient shearing shed and yard design.
In the 1970s and 80s he was a committee member of the WA State advisory committee to the Australian Wool Preparation and Wool Harvesting Program and also a member of the WA Wool Project steering committee.
In the 1980s he was managing director of three syndicated farming operations running a total of 57,500 Merino sheep for wool production and cropping 3800 hectares at Westonia, Hopetoun and Eneabba, in conjunction with farmers from the Darkan area.
The Westonia operation gave Mr Hall first-hand experience of farming in marginal rainfall country.
For seven years he also managed 31,000 Merino wethers for a syndicate farm.
Mr Hall is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science & Technology (Ag Institute) and of the Australian Association of Agricultural Consultants WA, where he is also a past president.
He was a past Federal and State president of the now defunct Australian Association of Farm Management Consultants.
He has lectured widely throughout Australia on sheep husbandry, labour efficiency, sheep facilities and breeding and genetics, with lecture tours to New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
His interest in sheep health has seen him serve on State advisory committees on Ovine Johne's Disease and Bedstraw eradication and he has previously been a State Drought Advisory Committee appointee.
In 2014 Mr Hall sold his consultancy to Andrew Ritchie, of Icon Agriculture, but he continued working as part of the Icon team.
This week Mr Hall said the AM came as a surprise.
"I still don't know who nominated me," he said.
He said any recognition he received was "reflected glory" from the wool growers and sheep farmers he worked with.
"As a consultant, my success is largely due to the abilities and the preparedness to take advice of the farmers I've worked with," Mr Hall said.
"With some family clients I'm on the third generation now," he said.
"There's been some successes, along with others we've helped develop the modern sheep system - starting first with labour and looking at things like more efficient shearing shed and yard design to make it easier and then moving on to improving genetics.
"With our farming syndicates we proved our sheep were the same no matter where we farmed.
"They produced the same wool (at Westonia) as they did in the southern sheep area - it might have been a bit heavier cut because it had more dust in the fleece, but is was the same basic good wool.
"Those syndicates also gave some of the boys off farms around here (Darkan) a chance to see how farming was done in other areas, it really opened their eyes - you have to remember that when I first came here the average farm was 1200 hectares and ran 1800 sheep," he said.
Mr Hall still spends three to four days a week at Darkan, working with local farmer clients.
"I thoroughly enjoy it and I'm going to continue doing it while I still can," he said.
Mr Hall was one of 61 Western Australians among the 993 listed in the general division of the Order of Australia on Monday.
Highest profile honours recipient with an agriculture connection was Nicola Forrest, Dalkeith, wife of Andrew (Twiggy) Forrest.
Ms Forrest was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Queen's Birthday list to match her husband's AO in the 2017 Australia Day Honours.
She received hers for distinguished service to the community through philanthropic support for education and the arts, to business and to the community.
Along with her husband, Ms Forrest is co-founder and director of the Minderoo Foundation which provides philanthropic support for projects to build communities, eliminate cancer, restock thriving oceans and for the Generation One Indigenous parity, Thrive by Five early childhood development and Walk Free end modern slavery initiatives.
She is also founder and governor of the Forrest Research Foundation and chief convenor of the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership.
Ms Forrest is patron of the Kimberley Rock Art Foundation Australia, life governor of Sculpture by the Sea, chairwoman of Black Swan State Theatre Company and a Fellow of the WA Museum.
Her support for arts and culture organisations includes the Australian Chamber Orchestra, WA Academy of Performing Arts, WA Opera, WA Ballet, Art Gallery of WA, Perth Symphony Orchestra, WA Symphony Orchestra and Australian National Academy of Music.
Ms Forrest is also a director of the Minderoo Group, which owns a 35 per cent stake in iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group and operates the vertically integrated Harvest Road agrifood business.
Harvest Road incorporates Australia's largest full-traceability, paddock-to-plate beef operation with its own processing facility in Harvey Beef.
Cattle for Harvest Road are raised on Minderoo station in the Pilbara, which Mr Forrest's forebears helped establish in 1787 and adjacent Minderoo Coast (formerly Urala station) and Minderoo South (formerly Uaroo and Nanutarra stations) and, in the Gascoyne region, Brick House and Minilya stations.
Harvest Road also works with other cattle producers prepared to meet its ethical, animal husbandry and traceability standards and it has developing horticulture and aquaculture interests.
Ms Forrest said the AO was "an incredibly humbling appointment".
A former Queensland sheep breeder now living in Kojonup, Kenwick Riley was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to the livestock industry.
Mr Riley was manager of Gowan Poll Merino Stud, Blackall, Queensland, shortly after it's name was changed in 1979 from the legendary Terrick Terrick Poll Merino stud created in 1941 under the Australian Estates Company.
He was a Queensland Poll Merino Stud Sheep Breeders Association councillor 1970-1989, vice-president 1983-85 and president of the Poll Merino division 1967-1970.
Mr Riley was a former Poll Merino shows judge and a former pastoral consultant and sheep classer.
He was patron of the Central West Queensland Polocrosse Association and Blackall Polocrosse Club, 1988-1996.
He is a life member of the Barcoo Pastoral Society Blackall Show, Blackall Polocrosse Association and Queensland Poll Merino Stud Sheep Breeders Association.
He also farmed in northern New South Wales, owning Wiccawood Organics and selling produce in Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and other local farmers' markets.
A Kojonup Rotary Club member, Mr Riley was awarded its Paul Harris Fellowship Award - named after Rotary's founder - in 2015.
Other regional Western Australians to be awarded an OAM on Monday included Cowaramup Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade president and volunteer since 1954 and local men's shed president Peter Clews and long serving Kununoppin St John Ambulance volunteer, Central Wheatbelt Uniting Church minister, Trayning Post Office manager and former shire councillor Valda Knott.
Mr Clews and Ms Knott were awarded for services to their communities.
Hopetoun environmentalist, native plant enthusiast and local author Violet Bennett received an OAM for services to conservation and the environment and Ian Lunt, now of Nedlands, received an OAM for services to the Albany community.
Mr Lunt served on the Albany Port Authority, marina development committee and was involved with several sailing clubs, the Lower Kalgan Bushfire Brigade and progress association.