STAKEHOLDERS from across Australia gathered in Brisbane this weekend to celebrate 30 years of carrying out the RCS Network’s integrated education, training and advisory work with livestock and land managers.
About 570 beef producers and others attended the two-day conference, in what was easily one of the beef industry’s largest gatherings since the onset of COVID.
The organization holds a landmark conference every ten years. This year’s theme was “Convergence – Agriculture, Human and Planetary Health”.
“Although there is a convergence of crises, at present we are focusing on the convergence of solutions”, co-founder of RCS Terry McCosker said.
“As human consciousness grows, we begin to understand that we are part of mother nature, not outside of it. This year, we bring together the converging themes of human health, soils, animals, plants and climate, and the new economy, all with an underlying theme of connecting to source and going back to basics,” he said.
The RCS network dates back 37 years to 1985, when Mr. McCosker and co-founder david hanon operated a consulting firm in the Northern Territory. Mr Hanlon died last year after battling a rare blood condition (click here for an earlier tribute).
The very first RCS Grazing for Profit School was held in 1990, under the direction of the late Stan Parsons.
Since then, RCS has partnered with thousands of growers to help them regenerate their land, empower their families, and realize bigger, more consistent profits. A total of 338 for-profit grazing schools have been run over the past 30 years, across the continent, involving some 7,000 beef-producing clients. The RCS program has already been offered to second and even third generation customers in the same family business.
Working with nature, rather than trying to control it, continued to be a central theme of the two days of presentations over the weekend. Regenerative agriculture and the tools to achieve it were the focus of many presentations.
“Regenerative agriculture is a very misused term,” said RCS president David McClean said.
“We think it’s about getting results – the results are the really important focus, not the inputs, in the form of what you do or don’t do,” he said.
“Improving soil health is the first outcome to focus on, because achieving it will in turn improve plant health, and from there, animal health. Improving animal health will improve the health of our business, and from there, our human health – which will result in improved community resilience.
“If you focus on those outcomes, not the inputs, then I think we’re regenerative and leaving our country better off in a cost-effective way.”
What future for the RCS movement?
Above all, we remain committed to providing world-class education, professional development and consulting services to the industry,” said Mr. Mclean.
Other new directions included:
- Advances in technology have had an influence, with the launch of fully online courses in conjunction with face-to-face course meetings.
- RCS has also invested heavily in decision support tools for customers in the form of online software. Chief among these is the redevelopment of the RCS business benchmarking program, ProfitProbe, which will be officially released in the coming months.
- ESG (Environment, Social & Governance) is the next evolution towards which RCS is heading with its decision support tools. “If you implement RCS principles, you’re really well positioned in this whole ESG space,” Mclean said. “You have an incredible opportunity with what’s coming.”
- An enormous amount has been learned about soil health over the past five years, and based on this, RCS has developed a set of soil health principles, which Mr. McLean described as being as “solid as the RCS grazing principles that have been in effect”. place for many years”. This is the basis of the RCS Farming and Grazing for Profit school.
- Applied soil health principles also enable RCS to support those involved in the carbon industry. “You can’t be involved in a carbon project without good basic soil management,” Mr Mclean said.
- Thanks to the hard work done over the past six years, RCS is now involved in many more collaborations and larger projects with government and industry. One of these was the Pioneer project, involving some 1.2 million hectares of land in the Great Barrier Reef watershed region, producing “astonishing results”.
“One of the reasons we meet every ten years is to bring together those who we believe are the thought leaders in the world, to expose our customers to them and have a conversation about it, so that they can educate us and challenge us,” David Mclean said.
“That way they can help focus our thinking for the next ten years and where we’re headed.”
- Beef Central attended the ten-year conference over the weekend and will file reports in the coming days.
Below are some of the faces from the spirited reunion….