The Holstein-Friesian Association of Australia Inc. held its first face-to-face Annual General Meeting since 2019 on Wednesday 14 September in Ballarat with over 30 members, industry partners and staff attending in person and a further 10 online.
Despite the continued impact of COVID-19 on Holstein Australia day-to-day operations during the last financial year, President Garry Carpenter reported that allowing for year-on-year variations due to outside factors – namely export volume and pent up post-COVID classification demand – the figures for registration and classification were relatively stable over the longer term.
Top-line figures for the year showed a 12% decrease in registrations, 17% for classification and a 51% increase in genomic testing.
Mr Carpenter also reported that member sales of registered animals averaged $5,200 during 2021 compared to non-member sales at approximately $3,000.
Solid financial performance
Audit and Finance Committee representative, Phil Hall, reported gross profit in 2021/22 decreased by just under $817,000 on the back of lower investment fund value however, there was only a marginal reduction in operating profit to $490,000 from $547,000.
Sales revenue was up marginally by $112,000 with total revenue of $3.89 million as were operating expenses; up by only $57,500 to $3.33 million. Each revenue category held its own when compared to the previous comparative period.
Live export continues to be a significant contributor to the bottom line; not only to the profit and loss but it also helping keep cash on hand at historically high levels allowing day-to-day operations to be comfortably funded.
As a result of the extreme volatility in global equity markets during 2021/22, HA’s investment portfolio suffered a decline in value, this off the back of a 20%+ increase in the previous year.
Despite this, total assets increased slightly to $5.32 million. Offsetting the unrealised loss in fund value, cash on hand increased by nearly $600,000 to $1.18 million on the back of good export revenues.
Breed development update
Breed Development and Conformation Committee Chair (BDCC), Gino Pacitti, reported that the Committee were looking forward to getting back to in person meetings combined with herd visits over the next 12 months.
After a disrupted couple of years the All Australian Photographic Competition was back, and the judges were delighted to be able to meet face-to-face to decide placegetters.
This year’s competition included animals that qualified during 2020/21 and 2021/22 with over 170 animals contesting the numerous age categories.
Over the year the BDCC reviewed the breakdown of points that make up the Master Breeder award which showed that there is no bias towards herds with a focus on production.
The data demonstrated that classification and breeding dominate the point’s distribution with over 60% of points coming from those two components as opposed to 20% for production.
Reporting on classification, Gino officially welcomed ‘new’ classifier Rebecca Haebich to the team, and also noted the almost 30,000 classifications completed by the team during the year.
It was also noted that a number of member animals featured regularly in the ABV releases, demonstrating the impact of how deep cow families and the influence of the Appendix system has in continuing to develop the breed in Australia.
Two special resolutions were presented but not adopted by the voting members present and attending by proxy.
The first resolution related specifically to a proposed new committee structure. The recommendation was that the BDCC would be split into two new committees, being Classification & Awards and Genetic Improvement. The idea was that it allowed committees to have specific roles and harnessed the skills of members in the area the committees related to.
The Board also sought to establish a more focussed and resourced committee in place of the Strategic Directions Committee – the Member Engagement Committee – with a focus of engaging with the wider membership through the Sub-branch network and Youth.
Currently the CEO assumes the role of Company Secretary upon appointment. The second resolution would have enabled the Board to appoint an appropriately qualified individual to the role of Company Secretary, allowing the CEO to devote more time to the day-to-day business of running the Association.
Board and Committee appointments
The appointment of new and returning Board and Committee members was announced during the AGM.
National Board Members, Garry Carpenter and Phil Hall, having served for three years retired by rotation and were eligible for re-election. Following re-nomination, both Mr Carpenter and Mr Hall were elected to the Board for a further three year term.
BDCC members, Wes Brown and Geoff Horrocks, having served for three years retired by rotation and were eligible for re-election. Both renominated, along with Bryan Dickson, Emu Banks, meaning an election was held for the two vacant positions.
Members voted for Wes Brown and Bryan Dickson to represent them on the BDCC, both for three year terms. The Chair thanked Mr Horrocks for his 11 years of service on the BDCC.
Good position for future growth
Holstein Australia CEO, Rohan Butler, reported that despite the ongoing impact of COVID for much of the preceding 12 months and the volatile economic climate, the Association had a solid bottom-line result, putting HA in a good place over the medium to longer term.
Mr Butler also reported on the ongoing IT review, due for completion in the current financial year, and the continuing work with Holstein Canada which will see the introduction of new classification software in 2023.
A study was also completed during the previous 12 month to identify potential additional markets for Holstein heifers, with HA attending World Dairy Expo with the aim of building relationships with many of the foreign delegates in attendance as a result.
The hybrid in person / online format for the AGM was judged a success by members and the Board and is a format that will be carried forward. While the lack of restrictions for the first time in 2 years saw many members travelling to Ballarat for the AGM and Award Dinner, for many interstate members the convenience, time and cost saving of attending online was much appreciated.